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Thread: Week 43- Fatigue & Wanting To Quit

  1. StevenForbes Guest

    Week 43- Fatigue & Wanting To Quit

    Hello again! Tuesday’s here, summer’s right around the corner, and things are looking fresh and new. Sure, there’s lots of rain, but it’s no longer blistering cold, so stop your bellyaching. Besides, it’s Tuesday! And what does Tuesday bring?

    Bolts & Nuts! Let’s get started!

    This week, I thought we’d spend some time talking about fatigue and wanting to quit. Think of this as a pep-talk. We all need one every once in a while. So, let’s talk about it, the causes, and some solutions.

    Fatigue and wanting to quit. They kinda go hand in hand, and the causes for it are many. One of the basic causes is trying to do too many things at once. You have the epic of Pen-Man that you’re trying to get done, you’ve got another story about ninja werewolves that you’re writing, and another story about mechanical lollipops wanting world domination that’s in the research and planning stages. You’re also doing a webcomic about ravenously infectious toe-jam, and you’re doing the lettering of it all [because you’ve been learning to letter, and are now putting your skills to use].

    So you’re writing, lettering, doing pre-press, updating the webcomic, and sending out submissions. Those submissions come back with form-letter rejections, and after a while, you’re wondering what’ the point of it all. No one’s reading the webcomic, or if they are, they’re not leaving comments [and you live for comments!], and it just seems pretty futile. What are you doing all of this work for if no one’s paying attention?

    You’ve been writing scripts. You’ve been studying your craft. You’ve been writing pitches. You’ve been studying your craft. You’ve been writing scripts and pitches. You’ve been studying your craft. Lots of studying, lots of writing. Are you getting better? How can you tell? You know you can’t look to your friends and family who don’t know any better. You post your scripts and pitches up on various forums, but you’re not getting much in the form of feedback—and the ones you DO get feedback from aren’t as helpful as you’d like.

    What’s the point?

    And let’s not talk about the amount of money you’ve spent! Thousands of dollars for creative teams of all stripes, and for what? What do you have to show for it? Rejection letters by the bushel, most of which are form letters that don’t give you any clue whatsoever about what was wrong with the submission. Just a generic “thanks , but no thanks,” or “we’re not interested at this time.” Totally useless in terms of getting better, and you’ve gone through a lot of expense to get the submission ready and out.

    What does it all add up to? All the work, time, and money, with the end result of seeming to just be spinning your wheels?

    It adds up to you being tired and frustrated and broke and angry and you want to do nothing more than just curl up in a little ball in a dark room all alone listening to the clock beat out a steady tick tick tick like a metronome as you stare into the dark and shiver and shake while people come and knock on the door and all you really want is to have everyone leave you the hell alone! [Whew!]

    You’re tired. You’re tired and there doesn’t seem to be any use, and you’re thinking about quitting.

    You’re at a crossroads. It’s a small one, but no less real for all of that. What do you do?

    On the one hand, you can continue to forge ahead, getting angrier with every passing day, or you can become a damned dirty quitter.

    And being that damned dirty quitter is looking better and better, isn’t it? (You’re damned skippy it does!)

    I know it seems bleak. I’ve been there. Here’s what I suggest:

    Back away from the chalupa.

    Take a break. Just take everything, and put it away for a while. Take a comics vacation. Step back, leave it alone, get some perspective. Recharge the batteries. Really. I mean it. Take a break. Because if you don’t, comics will break you.

    Those who follow the column know that I try to write pretty far ahead. I’m not really comfortable unless I have four in the hopper at all times. Why? Because there are times when I’m so busy with other things that some things can fall through the cracks. If I wrote the column the day it was supposed to be posted, I’d have been screwed more than a few times already.

    But I recently went through my own bleak time. Just burnt out, rejections here and there, and not enough time to really do everything that grabs my attention. Lettering and artists and e-mail and pitches and waiting and trying different things, not to mention real life stuff. Don’t forget the two columns. Don’t forget me being here for you. Webcomics. Writing.

    I do a lot. I try a lot. I have my rejections, and they’re disappointing. I was beginning to feel everything as a burden. I was tired, and I was looking at things as being futile. (Steven, I know you do a lot, but you don’t get down! You’re here for us! You’re our strength!) And I’m human, just like you.

    What did I do? I took a small break. I backed away from the chalupa, and I took a break. I didn’t answer much e-mail, and I didn’t do much of anything outside of putting up the columns. I took my break, and I recharged my batteries. I regained my perspective.

    Comics doesn’t owe you anything. It doesn’t owe you a living, it doesn’t owe you being published, it doesn’t owe you fame and fortune. No matter how much time and energy and money you pour into it, comics owes you exactly zero. The sooner this is realized, the more realistic you’ll be. Hopefully, happiness will come with that realization. Hopefully.

    Remember this: we’re the ones who are trying to tell our stories to the public. Yes, the public wants to be entertained, but there’s nothing that says they want to be entertained by us in particular. Sobering thought, isn’t it?

    Getting work in comics isn’t a right. Neither is self-publishing. Just because you’re here, just because you’ve built it, does not automatically mean they will come. You can do everything “right,” and you can still lose your shirt in total obscurity. Nice, right?

    Let me say it again: comics doesn’t owe you anything. Not a decent artist, not a published story, not a single sale, not a cent. For creators, comics will always be the prom queen, the pretty girl, the one just out of reach, and we’ll always chase her. Even if it seems like we’re going steady or better yet, married, it’s nothing more than illusion. We’re still chasing it.

    Frank Miller. Mark Millar. Brian Bendis. Robert Kirkman. Jim Lee. Famous names within comics circles, but they’re still chasing it. Comics doesn’t owe them any more than it owes you or me.

    This perspective can be easily forgotten in the hustle and bustle of creation and the cycle of submissions and rejections. We get so focused on what we want to accomplish, and what we think we’re supposed to be owed because of the effort and expense we pour into our passion that we forget that this is something we choose to do.

    (I’m sorry, Steven, but I think comics chose me.) That’s fine. I’m not going to argue with you about it. I’m just going to remind you that no matter what, it doesn’t owe you anything.

    Just take the break. Keep your finger on the pulse, but step back from doing the work. Regain your composure. Get back on an even keel. Release, relax, and recharge.

    Now, once you’ve recharged the batteries, its time to take a look and see if this is something you still want to do. Just because you got off for a little while doesn’t mean that the merry-go-round has stopped. It’s time to look in the mirror and perform the gut check. Do you have what it takes to get back on and see where the ride takes you?

    With your recharged batteries and perspective regained, I’m figuring that a lot of you will decide to get back on, at least for a while, and see where the ride takes you. You performed your gut check, and have decided you still have the stomach for the task before you. All I can say is congratulations. Now, get back to work, because it’s not going to do itself.

    For those of you who decide that it’s too hard and that you’ve had enough, all I can say to you is congratulations. You’ve found out something about yourself, and you’ve done something that most people never get around to doing: you tried. While I may seem to give you a hard time with the “damned dirty quitter” talk, really, there’s no dishonor in saying that it’s not for you, as long as you’ve tried. There are many who say they want to do something, and never get around to even attempting it [whatever “it” is].

    Comics is hard. I know, because I’ve been saying it for months now. But when you get to the point where you’re angry and feel like you’re not going forward, it’s time to take that break, breathe, and then reassess. We all do it, and there’s no shame in it. Everyone needs a vacation, but in comics, you’re the only one who can give it to you.

    That’s it. No homework, unless you want to count keeping an eye on your mental and emotional status to see if and when you need a break.

    See you next week!



  2. Join Date
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    For those of you who decide that it’s too hard and that you’ve had enough, all I can say to you is congratulations. You’ve found out something about yourself, and you’ve done something that most people never get around to doing: you tried. While I may seem to give you a hard time with the “damned dirty quitter” talk, really, there’s no dishonor in saying that it’s not for you, as long as you’ve tried. There are many who say they want to do something, and never get around to even attempting it [whatever “it” is].
    ::WHEW:: Thank God!

    I am OUTTA here!!





    [What's that, Forby? ...but you said.... What the hell does hypothetical mean? Oh. Oh, I see. Well, I jus--, But, you see I---. Fine, I get it, I get it. Ok, I'll tell them! Jeesh!]


    Forby has made many valid points, but upon further soul searching, I WILL be staying in the game.


    [There, is that better? Ya happy now? Good, I'm glad]

    Last edited by SebastianPiccione; Tuesday, June 02, 2009 at 09:16 PM.
    "Living Robert Venditti's Plan B!"

    CAT. 5



  3. harryd Guest

    Yup, trying to create something that is of decent quality is often hard and frustrating. For writers trying to do comics, it can also be expensive. On the other hand, without personal goals and challenges what's life besides working for the man, sleeping, and eating?



  4. Sliverbane Guest

    Remember this: we’re the ones who are trying to tell our stories to the public. Yes, the public wants to be entertained, but there’s nothing that says they want to be entertained by us in particular. Sobering thought, isn’t it?

    Getting work in comics isn’t a right. Neither is self-publishing. Just because you’re here, just because you’ve built it, does not automatically mean they will come. You can do everything “right,” and you can still lose your shirt in total obscurity. Nice, right?

    Let me say it again: comics doesn’t owe you anything. Not a decent artist, not a published story, not a single sale, not a cent. For creators, comics will always be the prom queen, the pretty girl, the one just out of reach, and we’ll always chase her. Even if it seems like we’re going steady or better yet, married, it’s nothing more than illusion. We’re still chasing it.
    *nodding in agreement* That's something I've been wrapping my brain around in the last few years. And with that sobering realization I look to one pin point of light. IT CAN HAPPEN TO ME. Will it? Who knows, but I have to keep trying. I'm stubborn like that.

    Oh, and I'll punch the 'prom queen' in the face when I catch her. :rolleyes:



  5. StevenForbes Guest

    Seb: I love you, man. Now, get back to work!!!

    Harry: don't forget that life also about building personal relationships, interactions with others, and serving your fellow man.

    And internet porn. Cannot forget the internet porn...

    Silverbane: All that pent up violence. You should do something about that. Go read some more Diary entries or something...



  6. joshfromplbcomics Guest

    good writing Steven. You've brought up so many good and true points. The harsh reality is, life in general owes us nothing, so your right why should comics be any different. over the past fiew years i've developed a weird anaology for trying to break into the comic book industry- The Japanese Kamikasie pilots from WWII.
    They knew going into it that they were gonna die, it was a given. I knew going into this i'm almost likely NEVER going to make it into the comics industry, it would take a proverbial miriacle. I mean, there's tons of guys who can write, ink, and draw better than me, i don't have a shot in hell.
    but really, that's not important and i don't care about that. If i don't TRY, then i will die a miserable old man full of regret. So it's better to die a happy old man who constantly got his ass kicked but never gave up.
    least i think so....
    however, it does hit me in the middle of the night sometimes......
    ROB LIEFIELD!??! Really??
    lol



  7. StevenForbes Guest

    Before the avalanche starts: this will NOT turn into a Liefeld bash session.

    Now, with that out of the way...

    Liefeld hit the industry at a great time for him. His art, while abysmal, has a LOT of energy to it. Combine that with the 90s shoulderpads/big guns/gritting teeth phase, and you have the makings of a star.

    Now, if he were trying to break in today, he wouldn't really bring much to the table. Weak storytelling, fanciful anatomy, disappearing/reappearing things from panel to panel on the same page...Liefeld is an artist who has steadfastly refused to grow one iota since he made it to the show.

    And there are people who absolutely love his work. Those are the people who keep him in business.

    No, I'm not one of those people.

    I was reading Teen Titans a few years ago, and when I heard he was coming in to do two issues, I honestly and seriously thought about skipping those two issues, and then coming back to pick them up in a couple of months. I don't enjoy rewarding those whom I believe to be bad creators. I dropped X-Men while Austen was writing because of it. I wasn't too pleased with Milligan's take, either.

    There are a lot of bad creators out there doing high profile work, and we can't please everyone. We all do the best we can, and hope it's enough.

    But I'll never willingly go put money into Liefeld's pockets again. If his Youngblood movie gets made, I may watch it when someone else buys/rents it, but I won't pay for it. I have better things to do.



  8. tylerjames Guest

    Steven, I think you capture the inner thought process that goes through creators' heads when finding their ambitions and goals butt up sharply against the realities of a tough industry. Fatigue and wanting to quit DO go hand in hand. But in a lot of ways, your attitude determines your altitude. I think it's good advice to get away from it for a while when you're down in the dumps...if you're not enjoying creating comics, what are the chances others are going to enjoy the comics you create?

    Another quote I heard recently that resonated..."If success were easy and failure impossible, what incentive would there be for anyone to do there best?" THANK GOD it's hard to break into comics. If it were easy, every book on myself would likely be mediocre at best.

    Not wanting to derail this into a Liefeld thread (we all know how those go), I'm an old school Image guy. That was my entry point into comics, and I'll always be a Liefeld fan for that reason. I'll contend that if you put a Liefeld splash page and a splash from just about any top artist today (Hitch, Jiminez, McNiven, etc.) in front of your average 8-12 year old, 10 times out of 10 they're going to like the Liefeld page the best. Add to that the fact that he's created more characters than just about anybody in the industry today and several that will stand the test of time, I understand why he's been as successful as he has in the industry.



  9. Sliverbane Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by StevenForbes View Post
    Seb: I love you, man. Now, get back to work!!!


    Silverbane: All that pent up violence. You should do something about that. Go read some more Diary entries or something...
    Ha!! I don't think that will make me less violent! :cool:



  10. AdamH Guest

    I have a tendency to what I call "zoom out", that is put together all of the information I get from all of the comic news, writing forums, and comic contests I follow into one big group that's my idea of comics. I see thousands of people trying to break into comics at various levels, and very small group of well known names already in the industry trying to stay there. Thousands of writers/artists doing thousands of variations of the same stories. This of course freaks me out to the point where I want to go to that dark room Steven was talking about, only I'm hugging myself, rocking back and forth with the question "What makes your story/your voice so unique that people will want to listen to it over those thousands and thousands of stories/voices already out there?"

    This is why I'm eternally grateful for a small group of friends, and especially my fiancee, who remind me whenever I get like this why exactly I'm trying to get into comics in the first place. To be a storyteller.

    Years I ago I read a comic (Morrison's Animal Man #5) that changed the way I thought of something that was so near and dear to me as a kid, and also innocent before this that I realized I want to write a story that would touch someone like that. Essentially, get them off their ass and realize they wanted to tell a story that would touch someone deeply, and they're willing to go through the hell Steven talked about in his column above just to write it. If I sell one comic, or tell one story I think would make someone do this, my work is done.

    That's my love letter to comics, that's why I do it, even though I have to be reminded when life gets to big. You might think it's cheesy, or corny, or just plain stupid, but it gets me through those times when I want to give up.

    Hopefully this will help someone remind themselves why they got into "getting into" comics in the first place.

    - Adam Hudson



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