Are you a creative type? If so, under what mental circumstances do you create? Do you wait for inspiration? Or do you go out and seek it? Does the inspiration come quickly? Or are there long gaps in between? Do you have to work hard to get the idea? And if so, under what circumstances do you begin to work on it afterwards? Once you have what you believe to be a good idea, what makes you work on it? Inspiration? The prospect of the final product? How often do you work on it, and at what interval?
As I sit in my room, at 4:30 in the morning, awaiting another afternoon shift in retail, I can’t help but ponder my current position. I think of all of the work that I must do, and how uninspired I feel to do it. Although I should be sleeping, I can’t help but want to do something. But at the same time, I don’t really want to do it.
I don’t want to feel like I’m not working on anything. I always want to feel like I’m doing something productive: something that will make me money down the road. But I’m not willing to compromise and do something that doesn’t make me happy in order to make that money (besides, apparently, retail). The idea of “selling out” or doing something that doesn’t make me happy in order to make money does not appeal to me. I’m only willing to “sell out” at the bare minimum: sure, I’ll stock shelves for some money. But, personally, I’m not willing to do much more than that.
Friends and family think I’m crazy. And maybe I am. But if the political philosophies that I have been studying for the past few years actually mean anything to me, then I need to make my own decisions in my life and live it.
I always dread hearing what someone else has to say in response to something that I have said. Most of the time, I just really don’t want to hear it. My life may spiral downward because of forces that I’m currently unaware of. Perhaps, others will gloat, or at least say “I told you so” while lending out a helping hand. But I’m just not happy. I’m just not happy with the common words that I hear, so, I believe that the only solution to this problem is to create the words that make me happy. Hmm…that’s good. Please don’t steal it. I’m in that terrifying stage of young adulthood (honestly, you’re always a byproduct of your decisions) where my life could go in many directions, with the majority of them seeming to be shit. Well, it probably will be shit. That is my expectation: that my life is going to be dreadful. I don’t want to hear a goddamn word about rainbows and sunshine. It’s my life, it’s my perspective, and I want it to be dark, if only for the laughs that can come out of it.
Perhaps, I truly only am writing this because I’m tired of hearing the words of others. Honestly, I don’t want to hear anyone’s thoughts on this. But this doesn’t do me any good if it stays on my computer, never published on the internet. It only does me good if it causes someone to say “Hey, that was good. I need to read more of what he writes! And then, give him money!” Once this is completed, that’s the only way this will do me any good. While I’m writing, it’s all good. It’s all therapeutic. But once it’s written, it only has value to me if it is marketed or sold. Because I don’t need to reread what I have written to know what I already think.
I respect advice. I’ve respected it for a lot of my life. I didn’t always take advice, and often, I either found it poor or later on found it to be helpful. But I don’t want it anymore. I’m not happy with what anyone is saying to me. And, personally, I find this to be a problem. Right about now is when someone would say “You can’t always hear what you want to hear.” And I understand your point, but you’re missing mine. You can control a good deal of it if you want to by doing what I wish to do at this point: just tune it all out.
For some reason, I’m just a terrible independent decision-maker. I’m hoping that this is only due to my youth, as the majority of my life has been spent in it, and I’ve made some terrible decisions up to this point. I know that I will always make poor decisions, but I’m hoping that they just become more sporadically spaced as time goes along. I hope that I’m not a “social degenerate”, someone who has “thrown his life away”, who “should’ve learned something worthwhile when he had the chance”, who, instead, lived a grandiose life of dreams regarding-what was that comedy bullshit he wanted to do again? Oh yeah, who cares. Never heard of him. And yeah, he ain’t a King or Rowling, that’s for sure.
The point of this is that I don’t want to seek external validation for my decisions anymore. I spent more time trying to get my father to believe in me like I believed in myself than I can recall. And I understand that he knew a lot that I didn’t. But I don’t think my dreams are completely unfounded. I don’t think my self-confidence is delusional. I don’t think my desires are childish. But I need to figure out what the fuck I’m doing. I have a small sense of it, but I think something is running deeper in me than I’m currently comfortable admitting to myself.
Perhaps I’ll be working in retail on into my 40s, knowing no other career than cereal stocking. That’s a good possibility, from my current perspective. Perhaps if I had only taken the advice of x, I could be making five times more money in my thirties than I’ll make by not taking their advice. Perhaps I’m the only fucking person in this world who doesn’t understand my life direction. Maybe everyone else is right but me. But I can’t listen to them.
I may be delusional, but I’m not stupid. I may be overconfident, but it’s not completely unjustified. I’m a terrified individual. I’m terrified of a tire blowing out as I cruise along the interstate. I’m terrified of my teeth falling out due to drinking too much soda. I’m terrified of my window of opportunity closing as I age, wondering if I’ll regret ignoring the sagacity of my elders. I’m terrified of what type of person I will be in the future. I’m terrified of becoming the type of person I hate. I’m terrified of spiders. I’m terrified of not knowing how to function as an adult. And it wouldn’t be the fault of my parents, because Lord knows they tried to teach me. I just ignored them, for the most part. I listened to them (at least somewhat) when it came to being a good person, but not when it came to, for lack of a better term, “life skills”. Practical skills involving physical labor. My laziness today is the same laziness from when I was a kid. It’s just there. Perhaps it will chain me to a life of minimum wage jobs, but I think I’m good enough at something to escape that life. But what is it? I think writing is part of it, and I think comedy is part of it. It better be, because that’s all that I have.
I love my family to death. I love my father, my mother, my friends. But I don’t want to take anyone’s advice. I’ve done that enough. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes it didn’t, but I don’t want to do that anymore. (I repeat myself so much from piece to piece. Oh well). I want to stay up past 7:30! I want to…no, I’m kidding. But I don’t want to take anyone’s advice right now. I don’t know when I will want to again. But I don’t right now. I appreciate it, but I don’t want to take it. I suppose this piece is a real bellyacher, but maybe it’s just self-therapy. If it is, then I don’t understand why in the fuck I’m publishing it.
I try not to write unless I have some stuff pretty well formed in my head already. At least when it comes to non-fiction. Fiction is a much more spontaneous process. And when I’m not doing something productive, I’m dreaming of future spoils. Isn’t that the life of the creative? You either create, and dream of spoils, or you create and have spoils. Very rarely is there any middle ground in that regard. I spend more time dreaming of fortune than working on what I wish would obtain said fortune. So I guess I have a pretty good ratio going.
The “problem” is that I believe I can do it. Deep down, I believe I can do it. I blame my parents for that one. I was always told that “I could do whatever I set my mind to.” And dammit, I believed them. For better or worse, I fucking believed them. And I have my mind set on becoming wealthy through writing and comedy. And that’s what I’m going to do. Nothing else will satisfy me: my mind is made up.
I’d love to tell you that I spend countless hours, days, and even weeks working on something. And I guess, in some sense, I do. It isn’t always writing. Sometimes it’s a comedy video for Youtube. But I would like to believe that I spend a large majority of my time observing. Observing people who do or have done what I wish to do, and trying to take something from them. Something valuable. Something that I can apply for myself. Seeing what I have in common with those that are doing or did what I dream of doing. I listen to their life stories, looking for similarities to my own. Looking for anything that makes me feel like I’m on the right track; that I’m on my way to doing what they do. And I would like to think that I’ve already learned a lot along the way while doing this, with a lot more to learn coming up in the future.
But one thing that stops me is my own financial failures. Time and energy are very valuable, precious things. And unless you love to do something for it’s own sake (or even for someone else that you love), you aren’t going to spend a lot of time and energy (or even money) doing something. A large part of my dream is dreaming of wealth. And the longer it doesn’t show up, the more my dream changes (or the more depressed I become). Right about now is where you’ll tell me not to care about money, and right about now is where I’ll tell you that I’m ignoring you. Also, right about now is where you’ll tell me why my work isn’t any good, and tell me that’s why I’m not making any money. I’ll refer to you to a previous sentence as to what my response will be.
But something that runs deeper than all of this is a personal conviction that I have that states “Do what you want to do.” This message, in all honesty, may have nefarious roots, but it has become an ingrained part of me for so long that I don’t think I can truly think any other way. I made up my mind at a young age that I was going to try to get paid for something that I wanted to do. I decided this, honestly, in part due to television news broadcasts which scolded CEOs for the amount of money they made. I decided that I wasn’t going to care about money (plus, I believed these same newscasts which stated, in effect, that making money was “ripping people off” (something I now know to be a lie)). Also, an even bigger part of this conviction came through the constant coverage of celebrities. I wanted to become a celebrity…
I wanted to become rich through becoming famous. This is still true today. I saw a bunch of people making a bunch of money by doing things that I thought I could do, and I wanted to do it. It took me several years to figure out exactly what I was going to do, and how I was going to do it, but that’s where I stand today. “I can do that.” That’s been my mentality. Everything that I wish to do for a career began with “I bet I’d like to do that” and “I can do that.”
Of course, I’ve learned along the way that it is harder than I expected. But another part of the reason that I decided to “do what I want to do” is because I had a feeling that only doing something for money when you don’t enjoy what you are doing will suck the soul out of you. Of course, this is what most people with a job do. But I’m only willing to do this to a bare minimum. There are people out there who get paid for doing what they love, and I know I can do that, too.
I don’t need anyone else to believe in me. This, I guess, all started that way, but I don’t need it anymore in order for it to continue (although it does feel good when someone does). I have enough confidence now to believe I can make careers out of everything that I want to make careers out of. The seed has been planted, for better or worse, and I can’t foresee it coming out of the ground anytime soon. Perhaps I’m objectively overconfident. But I’m going to make a choice to determine that I’m just-the-right-amount confident.
So I believe that I have the talent, and I have the desire. So one would think that I work nonstop. And in a sense, I do. But there’s so much work that remains unfinished that I felt the need to explain it for myself in this piece here. Why do I have so much unfinished work? Well, for one, many things “take a back seat” to other things. “That’s a good idea. Write that one down, so you don’t forget it. But I’m actually in the mood to work on this. Now I’m bored with this, I want to work on this. Now this is completed, but here’s a new idea. I don’t want to work on that one now, either, so I’m going to work on this new idea.” It kind of comes down to waiting to be in the right mindset to get something done. Perhaps it’s an extreme application of “Don’t do what you don’t want to do.” I’ve never liked the idea of forcing myself to write when I didn’t feel inspired. When I didn’t already have something to say that I wanted to say. I felt like the writing wouldn’t be as good, it wouldn’t be as fun, and I didn’t want to do it, because that would defeat a large purpose of why I wanted to do it in the first place: because I wanted to do it. And I still feel this way today.
So the way I work is that I work on smaller things while making a note of bigger things to do, and putting off many things while working on a wide variety of things. I have projects that are now years old that have nothing done on them more than “Hey, remember to do this. This is about this.” I think a part of that is waiting until I know what I’m going to do before I start to do it. I don’t want to start writing when I don’t know where something is going to go. Then, once I do, I let the creative process take me away until I at least get some semblance of that, even if unexpected things occur along the way. I sit around, waiting to feel “inspired” (something that financially successful writers probably hate, telling hopeful writers to “keep writing even if you don’t feel it, and finally something will stick”, or something like that. Something about putting in your dues…)
But instead of telling myself to write x amount everyday, and instead of telling myself to work on one specific project before starting on another, I let myself wander. I work on many projects at once, and few of them get done in a timely manner. And I’m kind of ok with that. A part of me wants to get more work done, but I don’t think my work would be as good if I treated it differently. I enjoy being overtaken by inspiration, and then not being able to control my desire and my execution of writing, and perhaps this is dickish of me, but something seems dishonest (at least to me) about forcing words to come. If you have to force words to come, you aren’t a writer. Well, at least, probably not a good one. Perhaps that’s unjustified, but it’s my feeling nonetheless. Writing is very spontaneous for me, with only an idea of what a piece is going to be about. The rest comes through inspiration (and, usually, immense boredom with everything else around me). But the question that I want to ask myself is this:
Why doesn’t inspiration come to me more often? I have enough ideas to keep me busy constantly. But I never feel inspired to do them. Once again, right about here is when an “established writer” will tell me that I need to put in the “elbow grease”, that everything isn’t going to be “squeaky clean”, and other cliches that I want to ignore. I don’t understand inspiration. I feel like I’d love to be able to write as much and as well as “greats”. And I’m sure that a lot of those writers are up to their necks in “elbow grease”. But I wish that I could do that spontaneously. I almost don’t want to work for it. Maybe that means that it never comes. But this is the process that I’m going to abide by until further notice. It kind of does suck, because of the amount of unfinished work. But I want my visions to overtake me; I don’t want to pick them out, because it doesn’t feel good to me. I believe that my best work comes when I’m inspired, and can’t control myself, and it just comes out. I don’t envy writers who sit staring at a blank screen, waiting for an idea to come. Fuck that shit. I’m only pulling out the screen when I can’t keep the words from flowing. And I hope that never changes.
But what causes the inspiration? Boredom. A lot of pondering. Desperation.
I can’t think of any other way to create good ideas…
I prefer organic ones as opposed to manufactured ones.
So I’m not going to be as productive as some.
But maybe I can compete with quality over quantity…
Well, at least I believe I can, anyway…
Now, we’ll let the market decide my fate…
…I’m no longer as optimistic.