AboutDante Shepherd writes the daily webcomic Surviving the World.
This Monday Night Campfire is for stories and other general means of amusement. So gather 'round and remember that singing comes from the patella region.
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(All content © Dante Shepherd unless otherwise noted.)
To live-twitter the grad transport exam tonight or not to live-twitter it, that is the question stemming from a terrible idea.— Dante Shepherd (@danteshepherd) February 10, 2014
The exam started 20 minutes ago and I’m already up to my knees in student stress sweat. There are also grizzly bears roaming the hallways.— Dante Shepherd (@danteshepherd) February 10, 2014
30 minutes into the exam and things are going probably great. In the hallway, our robot automatons are trying to quell the bear infestation.— Dante Shepherd (@danteshepherd) February 10, 2014
45 minutes left in the exam and students are grooving. In the hallway, the bears are now riding the automatons and have accessed the lasers.— Dante Shepherd (@danteshepherd) February 10, 2014
30 minutes left in the exam and students seem fine. In the hallway, the swarm of bees released to stop the laser-wielding bears has failed.— Dante Shepherd (@danteshepherd) February 10, 2014
20 minutes left in the exam and students are gliding. In the hallway, bickering is crumbling the organization of the laser-wielding bears.— Dante Shepherd (@danteshepherd) February 11, 2014
15 minutes left in the exam and students are coasting. In the hallway, the coalition of bears on the automatons has devolved into civil war.— Dante Shepherd (@danteshepherd) February 11, 2014
4 minutes left in the exam and students are about done. In the hallway, the bears crossed the automaton laser streams and they all exploded.— Dante Shepherd (@danteshepherd) February 11, 2014
The exam is over. In the hallway, everyone is awkwardly stepping over and around bear carcasses and automaton shards.— Dante Shepherd (@danteshepherd) February 11, 2014
Join us in mid-conversation, driving through our relatively new hometown.
theSwede: “Or we could try some other takeout place.”
Dante: “Okay, like (looks over shoulder) that one? What’s that name, Bur … ger … King?
Dante: “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t see the umlaut. Bürger King.”
Dante: “What’s that line about you from back in college?”
theSwede: “Oh, that was a conversation about me.”
Dante: “Right. ’theSwede doesn’t do fast food.’ ‘Well, then you need a new life partner.’ “
theSwede: “And I did get one.”
Dante: (looks at her expectantly)
theSwede: “Yes, it was you.”
Dante: “I know that. I just wanted to make sure you didn’t say it was one of the cats.”
STW #2000 is hitting tomorrow, which blows my mind just a little bit.
On the other hand, if you had told me almost six years ago that I would have made 2000 photocomics, posted them along with 51 guest comics on a daily basis for year after year, and only gone on hiatus for 12 days during that entire time, I would totally have believed you.
Why? Because as ridiculous as this sounds, before I could make STW #1, I had convinced myself that I would be accepting an Oscar for Original Screenplay in the future.
I’ve never written a full screenplay in my life. Nor will I. But that’s what I needed to believe in order to create anything.
This is how stupid the human mind can be.
You can be so filled with self-doubt that you can be unable to produce anything.
You can be so filled with fear of failure that you may be unable to share anything of the tons of material you have created.
You can work and produce and post and share and create and create and create entirely in your own head for years, unable to let any of it out, until you create a scenario entirely unrealistic, beat it into your subconscious over and over on a hourly basis, and convince yourself that it is not only a possibility or even a certainty but an actual future happening that will occur as surely as the sun will come up tomorrow.
After which you will finally be able to actually create outside your brain.
When I first started STW, it wasn’t something that I had done any prep work for in terms of taking photography lessons, working on handwriting, practicing poses, or almost anything that a good creator should do. From the very first comic, what you see is work that was more or less being improvised on the spot. The only things that I had worked on at all were the costume and content - which I had been obsessing over and over upon in my head for years.
So if you go back to the beginning and go through, you can see that there are a lot of rough spots in the presentation: purposely blurry photos, changes in lighting, a variety of poses or images without a person even present … like scratch paper work for character design, except entirely focused on the setting and final product.
The material on board, that’s the only thing I had any confidence in, and even then, had to delude myself to actually make it a reality. So while I knew some aspects of it would be rough around the edges - or rough straight into the center - I was willing to accept those flaws if it meant that there was actual creating happening.
So if I have any advice at all to people interested in creating, my advice isn’t to practice practice practice. That’s obvious if you want to make anything good that you can take pride in. So yes, write write write draw draw draw compose compose compose and just keep getting better. Never stop getting better.
But if you’re considering putting together creative content, there’s probably already a corner of your brain where you’ve been obsessing and fine-tuning the material for years. You have material inside you that you will never improve upon until you actually make it. Even if you work in complete obscurity for long periods of time, making your creative content an actual existing thing is a major accomplishment.
My advice is straightforward. Break through that wall. Set goals for yourself that will force you to keep creating - whether that is an obligatory monthly deadline or weekly deadline or even daily deadline - whatever it takes to make sure that you keep creating. Even if no one is reading or listening or watching, keep meeting your deadline. Make your work. Tell yourself whatever you need to.
You’re the best creator in your own head. And every voice inside your head telling you not to make, not to create, not to go ahead may indeed be some inner you - but so is every other voice telling you to go ahead. So don’t let yourself drown yourself out.
And enjoy it.