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B&N Week 180: Are You A Misunderstood Creator?

| June 4, 2014

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It’s another Tuesday, another Bolts & Nuts, another question!

Are you a misunderstood creator?

There’s something to be said about people. Even when they’re obviously “bad,” very few people believe themselves to be villains. They’re always the hero in their own stories, doing what they need to do to survive. That’s how we see ourselves.

However, you have to ask if that’s how others see you.

Understand that most of the time, you’re not going to be interacting with people face to face. You’re going to be doing most of your interaction through some form of social media before you get that email asking if you’re available for work. You’re going to be watched first, to see if you’re appropriate for the job someone may have for you. You may be researched before you’re ever approached. If you’re ever approached.

There are a lots of ways that you can be misunderstood. The first way, which is the biggest, easiest, and most in your control, is your spelling and punctuation. I’m here to tell you: I’ve seen creators I wouldn’t hire for projects and whom I’d not want to work with in an editorial capacity based solely on how they carry themselves from a spelling and punctuation point of view.

You put a lot of things out into the world, but when it comes to the written word, there is no real “tone.” Tone is all in your head, but it can be implied with word usage, spelling, and punctuation [or lack thereof].

I mean I could relly be simple and just be like yo I got this right.Then be all up in yo face telling you all kindz o wild stuff.Then you got a choice to ether listen or get stepping.

Would you take me seriously as a writer or an editor if I sounded like that in my writing? Or would you look at me and wonder what I had been smoking in order to think I should be paid for my writing and editing? (The latter.) [I know.]

However, this is how some creators present themselves online: no understanding of punctuation, little concept of capitalization, shaky spelling.

I had a client once whose spelling and punctuation was so bad that I had to ask them if English was their second language. Imagine both of our embarrassment when they told me that not only was English their only language, they were from the UK! Their spelling and punctuation immediately got better after I told them how I was reading them [like English was a second language…and they had just learned some proficiency with it].

Spelling and punctuation are your first calling cards. It tells people whether or not they can communicate with you, and what they can come to expect when they do.

Your next calling card will be how you respond to criticism.

Imagine responding to criticism, but not having full command of spelling and punctuation, and being offensively defensive about it as well.

That isn’t going to go over too well. You post work, whether it is a story or art, looking for criticism, but when you don’t receive praise, instead of saying “thank you” and getting down to work, you blast the person who’s trying to give you help by pointing out the flaws in your work and giving you tips on how to fix them. I’ve seen it happen way too often to count.  Here’s an example. You can look through the entire thread, but it starts there.

Level of artistic skill aside, is this an artist that you’d like to work with? Is he being understood, or misunderstood? Is he really just a nice guy who’s being picked on, or are the comments made on his art accurate, and the artist goes suddenly left field?

What about other forms of social media? Are you doing nothing but whining and complaining about your lot in life, how certain comic book companies are bankrupt of ideas so they recycle old ones—and do it badly, about how you could do better than certain creators if you only had a chance, about how everyone and everything is against you…? Is that what you put out in the world, but you’re really a happy, upbeat person who just needs to blow off steam now and again?

There’s a former creator that I unfriended on Facebook, because the only thing they did was grouse about how hard they worked to get into writing comics without getting anywhere, but others they “came up” with were able to get jobs at Marvel/DC. This creator said they worked hard, got nowhere, and so they quit…and quit loudly. Everything they then said was a complaint about today’s comics, and how they could do better. It sounded like sour grapes to me, and I got fed up.

What you put out in the world is how you’ll be perceived. Over at The Proving Grounds, I routinely go through scripts and have little that is good to say about most of them. People look and see the snark [possibly come every week just to see the snark] without understanding where it comes from, or why it’s there. They just think me a jerk. Am I misunderstood? Possibly, but only my clients would be able to tell you for sure.

Take a look at what you put out into the world. How you portray yourself. Are you misunderstood? Are people seeing you as you see yourself? Which view is accurate?

Answer those, and you’d be well on your way to being seen the way you want to be.

See you in seven.

Click here to discuss in the ComixTribe forum at Digital Webbing!

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Category: Bolts & Nuts, Columns

About the Author ()

Steven is an editor/writer with such credits as Fallen Justice, the award nominated The Standard, and Bullet Time under his belt, as well as work published by DC Comics. Between he and his wife, there are 10 kids (!), so there is a lot of creativity all around him. Steven is also the editor in chief and co-creator of ComixTribe, whose mission statement is Creators Helping Creators Make Better Comics. If you're looking for editing, contact him at stevedforbes@gmail.com for rate inquiries.

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