My blog is supposedly about self-publishing, although that’s just the current flavor of my personal journey in pursuit of happiness. It has also become a platform through which I’ve “met” other writers and creatives actively pursuing their various original dreams and ideas. It has been a pleasant surprise to discover just how supportive these people are of me and each other, even though we’ve never met, and some I only know by their pet avatars.
So I was more than happy to host this guest post by Bryan Caron, who has generously volunteered his time to beta-read Indiot and provide thorough, constructive feedback. I was even happier when I saw the title of his guest post. It’s a look into the world of someone willing to take a risk to pursue a creative dream.
Before I get to the post, let me tell you a little more about Bryan.
Bryan is also a graphic designer – which, I’m sure, comes in handy. Below are some of the samples of his graphic work, more of which you can find on his website Phoenix Moirai.
And now, without further adieu, please put your hands together for Bryan’s post!
My Never Ending Journey to Find Success with What I Love
For anyone who was a product of the 80s, you may remember having seen (and adored) The NeverEnding Story. For those who aren’t familiar with the movie, or for those who don’t remember, there’s a scene in the film where Atreyu (the warrior chosen to fight the Nothing threatening the land of Fantasia) and his horse, Artex, are caught in the Swamps of Sadness, where “everyone knew that whoever let the sadness overtake him would sink into the swamp.” Unfortunately, Artex almost immediately succumbs to the sadness. At this point, Atreyu might have given up. Artex was his only companion. Without him, Atreyu is alone, afraid and all but hopeless. But he doesn’t let his grief get the best of him. He soldiers on, and though his travel through the swamp continues to be rough and arduous (almost leading to his demise), his struggles are eventually rewarded.
I bring this up because the scene is a great metaphor for pursuing and finding success in doing what you love. The road can be very hard, at times lonely, and can sometimes leave you feeling hopeless. This is especially true if you’re an artist of any kind — whether it be as a painter, a musician or, like me, a writer. The number of rejections; the long hours of spilling your soul onto a canvas, never knowing whether anyone will ever appreciate it; days that go by without any sales; the worries that come with your everyday obligations and responsibilities to yourself and others; the sacrifices you have to make to scrounge up enough money to pay your mortgage — these can all be aspects of the Swamp of Sadness, seeking to envelop you to the point of giving up on your dreams and falling back on a heavily-traveled road most people find easier to traverse. But, when you have the strength to fight through it and believe in yourself, your talent and your passion, you will more than likely be rewarded in some way. Whether that’s monetarily or simply knowing that your words (or art or music) has affected someone so much that it helped them get through a tough period in their life, until it happens, we have to keep believing we have something to offer.
For me, pursuing a profession in writing and art is something I won’t ever stop doing. I’ve told this story before, but the first time I knew writing was what I wanted to pursue was when one of my English teachers assigned us to answer the question from “The Lady or the Tiger”. One page is all we needed, but the next day, I had seven college-ruled pages ready to hand in. From that day on, writing assignments that let me stretch my imagination were my absolute favorite assignments in school.
The road to achieving this feeling on a daily basis has been a long and winding one. I am obsessed with movies, and my college years started with a failed attempt at film school. But that experience led me to pursue an art degree, only to end up earning a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing, and then return to school to gain my Associates in Computer Graphic Design (you know, to pay the bills), and use that to learn filmmaking and editing on the fly. I do believe that everything happens for a reason. We may never know the why, but our choices have meaning, whether it be to gain knowledge, learn a lesson, achieve a goal or grow stronger, everything that happens teaches us something and pushes us forward. Every step of my career has been frightening, exciting and at times overwhelming. But through it all, I’ve continued to grow, both artistically and professionally.
I don’t have to make millions of dollars with my art, but being able to write every day and make a decent living where I don’t have to stress everyday over paying my bills — that would be a dream come true. I haven’t found it yet, but I can’t see myself giving up just because it may seem easier to do. After all, the hardest things in life are often the most rewarding. When I decided to jump ship from the 9 to 5 cubicle to start my own business, I had very little money in my bank account and had almost no idea what I was doing. I still have very little money in my bank account, and am still finding my footing in regards to building the business, but the whole thing has been amazingly freeing, both personally and creatively. Now I get to design, write and film wherever I want and on my schedule (for the most part — there are still client expectations and obligations that I need to consider, but you get my point). It’s been two years since I started Phoenix Moirai and though I have to force myself to step out of my comfort zone almost every day, it’s been very rewarding thus far, and I am very much looking forward to what the future holds.
There have been a lot of technological advancements over the twenty years since graduating high school that have led to various opportunities I wouldn’t have had had I given up early on after receiving nothing but the word “No” from publishers and agents. Looking back, I probably wasn’t ready to achieve the success I was seeking at the time. And let’s face it… reading some of the work I wrote back then with the knowledge I have now, yeah, I can see why it was rejected. It wasn’t that it wasn’t any good; I just had a lot more to learn, and as I grew as a writer, experience gave me new insight. But between those first heartbreaking rejections and the excitement I still feel publishing a new novel of my own accord, I never stopped writing; I never stopped making films; I never stopped creating; I never stopped pursuing my dreams. Setbacks and failures are only failures when you let them hurt you instead of using them to move forward. Choosing to go into the graphic design field may have seemed like a step back for me, but doing so has opened so many doors in writing, film and design that I may not have found otherwise.
There’s a lot of noise out there nowadays. With Twitter and Facebook and YouTube and Instagram and Pinterest and platforms that allow anyone to publish a book, it’s hard to to be heard; it’s hard to find an audience; it’s hard to break through and get noticed. Should that stop me? No way. It just means I need to remain patient, continue writing, continue meeting new people like Ana, and keep marketing and getting the word out the best I can. Until then, I will continue to work hard at my craft, continue to build my business, design, write, make films and keep my held up high so that when Falkor finally finds me, I’ll be ready.