As I’ve continued to ponder the “Community-driven comic book“, I’ve been forced to confront once again the creative person’s greatest foe — the fear of sucking. People talk about various artists being “courageous” and I always that that was a load of steaming horse puckey. And believe me, living in Texas with four horses and seven donkeys, I know me some horse puckey.
But there’s certainly a nugget of truth there. When you’re trying something you haven’t done before, I think the fear of failure, of being really bad at it, is the biggest obstacle to actually getting it done. People might laugh, you might be exposed as a fraud, you might find out (as so many aspiring singers do on “American Idol”) that you aren’t any good at something you thought was your strong suit.
What most people forget, though, is that all of the greats in history have been failures at many points in their lives. Edison had many, many more failed inventions than he did light bulbs. To succeed, you have to give yourself permission to suck. You aren’t going to be the best right out of the gate, but hopefully you’ll improve over time, eventually getting to the point where you don’t suck any more.
You’re definitely going to suck for a while, though, and that’s pretty intimidating.
So that’s sort of where I am on this whole thing. I’ve done illustrations for gaming products before, I’ve gotten paid for drawing, and I’ve put together a successful Internet product, and I sucked at all of them in the beginning. I’ve sucked at every job I’ve ever had, at least at the beginning. Eventually I got better, but I really hate sucking. Hate it. It brings up all of the feelings of being a failure from childhood, of being judged as lacking by friends and family, of making me question my value as a human being.
And the fact is, I don’t know how to put together a good comic. I don’t know how to ink a whole page of different panels so they work well together, or maybe even how to craft a successful single panel. I don’t know how to pace a plot in sequential art, and I don’t know how to remain consistent throughout a story. All of that would be completely new to me, and I’m almost definitely going to suck at all of it. At once. On the same page, there will be multiple avenues of suckage.
So the first thing to do, before I even start down the road, is to decide to give myself permission to suck. Because success isn’t an option unless the failure is, too. I’ll let you know if and when I get there.