I was watching “How To Make a Web Series” on the Night Mind channel on YouTube yesterday. And no; I don’t want to make a web series. As much as I enjoy the idea of building a story with some level of audience participation, I think that video is definitely not my medium. I’m a writer, I write things, that’s my skill set right now. And even within that skill set, I don’t feel able enough to pull off some things I’ve seen web series and ARGs pull off. Granted, writing serialized fiction; which is what we’re doing, can have some level of reader-participation and response, but nothing on that level.
But I digress.
I was watching the intro video on How To Make a Web Series and Nick Nocturne, the man/person/cat behind Night Mind posed the question: Why are you here?
Now before we go any further with this, let me just stop here and state that you should watch these videos. Not because of this post, but because they’re interesting. Start here and choose a path. Godspeed. 😛
On a related note: I love Nick Nocturne. Night Mind has become one of my favorite channels on YouTube when it comes to finding new weird/creepy/interesting things because it doesn’t just point out a web series and say “look at this thing I found” it tells you why it’s good or where it lacks, it goes into the very foundation of what makes any story work; the writing, and dissects it. Not enough to spoil anything, but just enough to make us go “ah, I see what you mean”. And having binged every video on that channel, some more than once now, I can say that I may not believe Nick has all the answers or a set formula of what works/doesn’t when it comes to these things, but I believe the guy knows what he’s talking about. I’m taking the Blue Path on the course and I’m sticking to it to see what I can apply to my own projects because, hey, art is art.
That out of the way… The question is why are you here? Why do you write? What do you focus on when you think about your stories? Your characters? Or yourself?
The question struck me. It hit me hard in the gut. Nick was asking basically; when you think about your story, when you’re daydreaming about this project you want to see come to life, are you thinking about the story, the characters, are you envisioning how every little thread of plot comes together to form this greater picture? Or are you thinking about what being successful with this project can do for you?
Now, I’m not going to be a hypocrite and say that I don’t sometimes stop to think about what it’d be like to have a readership, to have fans of my work, to gain some recognition, maybe even make a few bucks. It’s only human to want things. Recognition is a great thing to want. There’s no harm or sin in that. But, at the end of the day, if one single person enjoys my writing it’s enough for me. If I enjoy my writing it’s enough for me. And if by some miracle I do build a readership and I do succeed in some way that’s considered significant, I hope that continues to be the case. Because right now, unless something is wrong in my life or with me, all it takes for my writing to make me happy is that; writing. Getting my story out. Building a life story for my characters.
Creatively speaking: I live to serve my stories. What comes of it, comes of it. I want to enjoy myself and create something that other people may or not enjoy but that will be ultimately an expression of myself. That’s what I see as my creative purpose.
Doing it and making a living? That’s the dream, but a dream can sometimes never be more than just that; a dream.
Why am I writing about this then? Well… There are some things I’ve been hearing from fellow writers a lot lately. Things along the lines of: “writing for myself is a concept that never really stuck in my head”, “I never wrote anything I didn’t intend to publish”, and “If no one’s going to be interested maybe I shouldn’t waste my time writing it”. And I realized that a lot of places where writing advice is being given, it’s being given not with the intent of mastering a skill because you want to master a skill, it’s being given with the intent of making your work more marketable. Writing advice so often focuses on what readers might want or publishers, or book agents, and not on how you should improve your writing for you.
You guys want the main reason why I stopped working on my novel? Because on my quest to try and improve myself, I was so caught up on all the reasons why no one would ever give a shit about my writing that I forgot why I wanted to write the story to begin with. I forgot that I give a shit. I forgot that the important thing is that I give a shit. Fuck the readers, fuck publishing, fuck every single aspect of reality. Writing should never stop meaning what it means to me: I live to serve my stories. That’s it.
That’s the main reason I decided to focus on the Shadows Series first. Because with Valcrest it’s easier to remember why I started this. For fun. For shits and giggles. For my own selfish reasons. Because it makes me happy.
To the writers who said the above things to me, the only advice I could give was “find a way to enjoy writing again”. If you can’t enjoy it, if you have to force it out like it’s a chore, then why are you doing it? You’re hurting yourself and for what? What success in life is greater than being happy? I’m not saying this like these people have to prove themselves to me. I’m saying it, much like Nick did in his videos, to try and inspire a moment of self-reflection. Some self-awareness. If you don’t write for you then: Why do you write?
I’ll try to post again before that, but if I don’t; have a great Holiday season guys! 😀