Show your stuff to the people you admire. People are incredibly accessible, you can probably find an email and just send them a link. When I was 14 or 15, I drew a badass pirate. I was pretty happy with it, so I emailed it to Maddox. Yes, that Maddox. The guy famous for writing about beating up children and how much he hates everything. He replied with the kindest, most encouraging message ever, and it was probably one of my proudest and most eye-opening moments. More recently, I drew a pretty dumb comic. I showed it to the guys at Toon Hole, because they kind of inspired me. Chris Allison wrote me back; same deal.
Successful, interesting people aren’t jerks. Maybe I’m just lucky, but even if it is a crap shoot, it’s totally worth showing your stuff to the people who inspire you. Just go for it. It doesn’t even need to be your best, most polished perfection. Just let them know, hey, you’re an inspiration. I saw your painting, or watched your movie, or heard your song, and I made this because of it. I hope you like it. Because odds are, they will, because inspiring other artists to create is amazing.
Go on, write that fan letter.
We Stopped Dreaming
May 17, 2011
To Whom it May Inspire,
I, like many of you artists out there, constantly shift between two states. The first (and far more preferable of the two) is white-hot, “in the zone” seat-of-the-pants, firing on all cylinders creative mode. This is when you lay your pen down and the ideas pour out like wine from a royal chalice! This happens about 3% of the time.
The other 97% of the time I am in the frustrated, struggling, office-corner-full-of-crumpled-up-paper mode. The important thing is to slog diligently through this quagmire of discouragement and despair. Put on some audio commentary and listen to the stories of professionals who have been making films for decades going through the same slings and arrows of outrageous production problems.
In a word: PERSIST.
PERSIST on telling your story. PERSIST on reaching your audience. PERSIST on staying true to your vision. Remember what Peter Jackson said, “Pain is temporary. Film is forever.” And he of all people should know.
So next time you hit writer’s block, or your computer crashes and you lose an entire night’s work because you didn’t hit save (always hit save), just remember: you’re never far from that next burst of divine creativity. Work through that 97% of murky abyssmal mediocrity to get to that 3% which everyone will remember you for!
I guarantee you, the art will be well worth the work!
Your friend and mine,
“ADVENTURE IS OUT THERE!”