Do Something Stupid
For today's blog, I've included a special option below. You can read as normal, listen to it as an audioblog, both, or... neither, I guess. Not sure why you'd choose the last one after coming this far, but it is a free country, so you do you. Anyway, the audioblog is pretty much the same as what's written, so pick whichever option you like and enjoy!
After a week of family, fun, and lots of drinking in the sun, I came back to Dallas ready to jump back into work. Actually, I came back with a two-day hangover that led to me sitting on my couch catching up on all the TV I’d missed, but then I was ready to jump back into work. Only, the work that was calling to me wasn’t what I’d expected. Sure, I had some ideas I wanted to get down for Super Powereds: Year 4, a few new plot paths for Fred 3, and some fun silliness for Forging Hephaestus, however, none of those were what I sat down and started playing around with.
That honor went to an idea for a video series that’s been tooling around in the back of my head, and on spending half a day learning to do audio blogs as a learning tool in case I ever get a solo podcast off the ground. A week away from my computer and the first things I want to jump on are the frivolous ideas that have a 90% of leading to dick-all, even if I finish them.
And that is just fucking magical, if you ask me. This year I’d noticed something weird had begun happening to me: writing for a living wasn’t feeling quite as much like living on the knife’s edge as it did before. I’m not trying to slip in a humble brag or anything; it’s just a fact of life that the longer you do something the more comfortable with it you get. As my readership and catalogue of books has expanded, I no longer wake up in cold sweats thinking about rent quite as often. And, thanks to the support and success you folks have provided, the old self-doubt started to finally quiet down from time to time. These are all very good, downright wonderful, things, but they also meant I was getting comfortable.
Comfortable is dangerous, when you make books/tv/film for a living. Comfortable is where creativity goes to die. You want to know what comfortable looks like? Reboots of classic movies. Any television show past season 5. The Star Wars Prequels. It’s part of why I launch my series with firm endings in mind, so the temptation to ride one indefinitely if it gets successful is off the table. Now to be clear, I’m still a long way from actually comfortable, but I’ve been around long enough to recognize the early warning signs. That’s part of why I’ll sometimes take on such unmarketable or seemingly pointless projects: they push my boundaries and keep me from getting too cozy.
Circle all that back around to my first days back from vacation and the tasks I set myself to. The idea of making audio versions of my blogs has been kicking around forever, and in fact doing them consistently is one of the tiers on my Patreon page, but I’ve never taken actual steps to make it happen. Until today, obviously, since you had the option up top of listening along to this. I never did it because as fun and odd as it seemed, I also imagined it would eat a lot of time doing something people might not care about. Stepping away from my confined little electronic world, however, reminded me of something very important.
It doesn’t matter if no one else cares about this project. I care about it, I enjoy doing it, and that’s justification enough. That is one of the very reasons I wanted so badly to work for myself in the first place: so no one could tell me the things I thought were fun weren’t worth the time. Heck, I’m not even saying no one will like this. I just thought they might not, and that was enough to keep it on the backburner for close to a year. Writing, I can take risks on. Other stuff, I’m still learning to roll the dice with.
And that is what today’s blog is really about: the important of doing something stupid. I don’t mean drinking a quart of gin in one massive chug or trying to pick a fight with a tractor; I’m talking about the little ideas, ambitions, and projects wriggling around in your head that you’ve shoved aside for things that seem more relevant in day to day life. We all have them, art outside our medium even if we don’t have a medium to start with. It’s easy to let them lay, to convince yourself that since no one would ever like them, or perhaps even see them, there are better ways to spend your time.
Stupid things, silly projects, they do matter though. They help us regain our sense of uncertainty, the worry of failure, and perhaps even a touch of adventure. They push us beyond our comfort zones. Sometimes that might lead to unexpected success or discovery of a new talent, but even in the worst of scenarios it has the power to re-invigorate us. If there is one thing you’re certainly not when trying to tackle a totally new task, it’s comfortable. Being able to tap into that wild, uncertain vein when the mental gears are running low is a damned useful tool to have in your arsenal.
So, this is one of my dumb projects, which is actually a stepping stone to a more ambitious one I’m learning the skills for. More will be coming down the line, assuming I can get a team to pull them together. Even if they do fall apart and burn in the attempts of their creation though, that’s fine too. With things like this, it isn’t the succeeding that’s important, it’s simply the doing. The pushing. The learning. Making something, even if it’s terrible or incomplete, that wouldn’t have existed without you.
Win, lose, or draw, that sort of endeavor is always worth the time it costs.