Tuesday is upon us once again! Some people love the weekend, some people look forward to Fridays, but me? I’m partial to Tuesday, because spending time with you is always the highlight of my week.
We’re winding down the Become A Better Creator series. The New Year will bring us new things, and that’s when we’ll see an end to this part of Bolts & Nuts. Until then, let’s keep it moving! This week, I want to talk about being persistent.
I hate to throw around clichés, but sometimes, they’re the best thing in order to get the point across. What cliché am I going to throw at you? Comics is a marathon, not a sprint. [I felt ill just saying that.] It takes years to become an overnight sensation, if you’re even lucky enough to reach those heights.
But you won’t get anywhere if you aren’t persistent.
It takes a very long time of struggling and fighting and trying to make a go of it before you realize something: comics doesn’t owe you anything. Not a living, not a sale, not a reader. Not one single thing. And for some creators, that’s a hard truth to realize and live with.
I will tell you: I’ve seen the darkness. I’ve been in a place where I almost walked away from comics. My reasons were the same as all of yours: too hard to get any traction, too many distractions, too expensive, no downtime, too much work, seemingly no light at the end of the tunnel…yeah. I’ve been there. I was ready to chuck years worth of experience and growth for what I considered to be peace of mind.
Some friends talked me down from the ledge. They made me realize that I wouldn’t be happy if I gave it up. [And they were right.] But I get it. I do.
It’s like this, though: without that inner desire to finish your project and bring something new into the world, without that will to persevere, you’re going to go nowhere. And you know what that’s going to do? It’s going to cause you to quit, and in quitting, you may become bitter.
I know people that have quit and become bitter. Just their entire take on the comics landscape seems to have changed overnight. When they talk about comics, it seems as though they don’t have anything good to say, whether it is about creators or books. All because they gave up because it was too hard.
Like I said, I’ve been there. However, I don’t think I would let it make me bitter. Quite the opposite: I think it would make me that much more respectful of those that have managed to turn their dreams into reality.
Perseverance success stories are all around us. A great story is Bendis. (I’m tired of hearing about him! Pick someone else!) Fine. Here’s a recent one: (Sam Humphries…Our Love is Real to now working for Marvel…yadda yadda!) Fine. Jim Zubkavich, creator of Skullkickers, who’s now working for DC on Birds of Prey. That’s perseverance turning into success. And that’s just one of the more recent examples.
Want to follow in those footsteps? You have to put in the work. Keep your nose to the grindstone so long that you wear out the grindstone. [Another cliché, of sorts.] As much as we wish it, comics are not going to make themselves. You have to keep doing it until you find your level, whatever it may be.
This applies not only to writing, but to all aspects of comic creation. If you’re weak in an area, work on strengthening it. This will make you stronger as a whole. [And I’ve written a bunch of Bolts & Nuts that have exercises at the end of them. How many of those have you done?]
It takes conscious effort over a period of time in order to gain in strength, or to do anything that you really want to do. Let’s put it into terms that everyone can identify with: weight. If you want to lose it or gain it, it has to be done over time. It will neither be instantaneous or easy. To throw another sickening cliché: Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither will your comic book career be.
Want to be a better creator? Then you have to be persistent. Keep working to get better, shore up any weaknesses, and keep on striving. That’s the only way to get ahead. Remember, if it were easy, then everyone would be doing it.