Allow me to give a brief explanation of who I am and what I do.
I am a creator. And creators create.
I have a myriad of reasons why I create. It’s how I release tension. It’s how I articulate ideas, opinions and concepts that I would normally have a hard time explaining. It allows me some modicum of control in a world where quite a bit is out of my control. It’s a great sense of pride to look at a finished product and know that it is my creation and the product of my work. I can dive into the creative process and forget about the crap I deal with in the real world for a bit. And I love it when someone else takes a liking to one of my creations, because it validates my idea as a good one.
I create in a variety of different ways. I write novels, I make music, I draw. I invent card games and board games.
I like to share my creations. I want people to read my books, play my games and listen to my music. Yes, there are monetary reasons for that – it’s awesome when someone likes your creation enough to want to pay for it. But it’s much more than just that. I like the things I create enough to want to share them with the world. I believe in my creations enough to think that somebody somewhere will enjoy what I have concocted. It could be one person. It could be one million people. It doesn’t really matter.
Would it be cool if one of my songs was a hit? Yes, it would be, and I put my music out because a song can’t become a hit if I’m the only one that knows it exists. Would I like to be a best-selling author? Yes, I would, and I actually believe I’m capable of that. But if neither of those things ever happens, I’m okay with that, too. I will still continue to create. And I will still strive to make my next creation bigger and better than my last one.
You can think that what I do is a waste of time. You can call my pursuit of greatness “chasing a pipe dream” it’s par for the course for people that don’t understand the creative process to critizise or not see the value in it.
So let’s talk about that. If you think my pursuits won’t be successful, then let me ask how you define success. If your only definition is me quitting my job because my ventures are bringing in money hand over fist, then I’ll concede that I haven’t hit that mark,…yet. Doesn’t mean I should give up striving for that though. After all, every profitable entrepreneurial venture started off as a farfetched idea.
But let me introduce this perspective. Many people have said they were going to write a book someday. Now how many of those people, realistically, would you say actually wrote one? Not a very high percentage, I’d wager. I wrote not one book, but seven, and number 8 is almost finished. I would say that in itself is a success story. And of those books that people in general say they’re going to write, how many of those actually see print? Out of the 7 finished books I have to my credit, four of them have been published, people bought three of them, and they are still buying one of them and have frequently asked me when I am going to start writing a sequel. The webcomic I maintained for four years had more than paid for itself in ad revenue, and believe it or not, a few people actually enjoy my music enough to pay for it. Considering that many creators don’t make a dime off of their creations, I consider these to be successes. I of course aim for bigger and better, but I appreciate the progress I’ve made so far.
And I feel no shame in having confidence in my projects. I will always believe my next book will be a best seller, and my next song will be a viral sensation, and my next game will become a gaming staple. If I’ve succeeded at one level, then why can’t I succeed at the next? If 50 people bought Godmode, then why can’t 500 people buy Queen of Hearts (that’s my literary novel that I will be self-publishing soon)? Why can’t 5,000 people buy Needle of the Southside (that’s my urban fantasy thriller that I’m almost finished with)? Why can’t 5 million people buy Return of the Tyrant (my high fantasy epic that I’m about 2/3 finished writing)? I don’t put limits on what I’m capable of. Never have, never will.
And it’s not like I create to the detriment of my normal life. I still work two jobs. I still do freelance graphic and web design. I still mow the lawn every Saturday and do chores around the house that my wife asks of me. I still bring 20 cases of bottled water into the house every week because we live in Flint and the water situation is far from resolved. If something in the house breaks, I will still try to fix it. The bills will still get paid regardless of how much (if any) I make from my creations. I still spend quality time with my wife and loved ones. I’ll still even take time to unwind by playing video games or playing the occasional game of Magic the Gathering with my brother (although I wish I could do that last one more often).
But despite all of that, I still create. It’s what I do, and it’s who I am.