Saturday, January 9, 2016

Well Hello Again

I've completely neglected this blog. Ever since I moved over to tumblr with goofier comics and subsequently fell into a social media blues pit, I just haven't felt the need to write anything worth reading that wasn't some project or another. Even posting random stuff on Facebook bums me out.

"Social" has never been an adjective used to describe me. "Chatty," maybe, or "overly talkative" when I'm rambling about something exciting, like comics or whatever, but if there's anyone who intensely avoids social gatherings outside of class, work, or extremely close friends/family--to the point where you have to physically drag or bribe me to attend--it's me.

For a long time, I felt comfortable rambling on about nothing on the internet because I was a nobody. Who the hell reads my blogs or sees my comics except family and friends and the occasional random guy from Russia? Shit's harmless. I never really thought of having an audience other than myself.

Quite simply, I saw social media as a place where I could talk to myself and sometimes other people could see it. It's like leaving your journal or sketchbook out in a public place while you get up and do something. Sure, someone can read it, but more than likely: no one cares. You're nobody special. You might attract an eye or two, but no one's gonna snag your journal and wave it around, gather a crowd, and start a live reading. No one's gonna make a thousand photocopies of your sketch and send it to all their friends because, seriously, it's just a silly doodle.

Except, sometimes that scenario does happen. You post a thing on the internet at the right time and, hey, what d'ya know, your little baby is trending. Might even go semi-viral.

It's nothing to complain about, of course. And I'm certainly not complaining. It's nice having a lot of people see and like something I did. It's affirming. Bumps up the self esteem. Now I find it hard to say the old:"You're just saying it's good because you're my friends/family/cat/etc." I still say it, of course, but now it's expanded to: "Everyone's being too nice. This is trash." or "You like the joke/story, not the art." (As you can tell, I'm dreadful with compliments.)

Getting all those views and likes can make a person anxious, too, though. "Should I take advantage of this?" "What do I do now?" "Do I make more of the same thing?" "What if no one likes the next thing I do?" "Should I even care?"

Of course, my stuff has never reached Grumpy Cat or Pewdiepie level of viral-ness, just a few comics here and there that got a lot of likes and reblogs on tumblr. But what I'm talking about is at an even smaller scale. Just having a few kids stop me mid-drawing to ask me to make photocopies of my work so they can take it home is enough to send me into self-conscious fits. "Why would you want this? It's terrible!"

Just like going out with coworkers or classmates to some party or reception, my instinct when facing the attentions of a crowd (even a tiny crowd of only three or four strangers or invisible people on the internet) is to clam up, kidnap the nearest cat, and fit myself into a cupboard. My self-consciousness always dominates any sense of near-non-existent pride I have in my work and, if left unchecked, it does that stupid fusion-ha dance with my inner critic and I shutter away completely. Everything I create is shit. It's terrible. Not good enough. Instead of posting drawings or submitting written work all willy-nilly--as I did when I thought no one was looking--I'm back to working on my endless projects secretly, too afraid to show even acquaintances what I'm doing.

Social media can be daunting when you're not invisible. I love talking to myself, love making art and stories for myself, but when other people get involved it's like someone's watching you draw over your shoulder and, trust me, I've got some hyper-critical friends, there's nothing more harrowing (and irritating) than trying to casually draw and impress someone at the same time. (Initial sketches are always ugly. Always. Only magicians draw perfect the first time.)

Honestly, what's important is that I don't stop working. As long as I'm writing or drawing or coming up with ideas, then it's okay. When I find myself stuck on one project, I make myself quickly jump to another until an idea comes to me. It slows progress down, but it helps my mood. It's good to remind myself that I'm the primary audience, at least in the beginning. I can always make changes later. My only fear is that I'll get so overwhelmed with trying to make each project perfect that I'll never submit them, never attempt to get them published, and I'll have this massive collection of "unfinished" work that nobody will see because I think it's never good enough and I'm too nervous to hear what other people think.