When I moved away from freelancing and got hired by a startup, there was a lot of discussion about work/life balance. Basically this means that you’re committed to your career ambitions, but not at the expense of your personal life. I’m down with that. I’m down with working my ass off to achieve the things I want professionally, but I won’t sacrifice family or relationships or my writerly ambitions or my health. Okay? No.
I go to the gym a few times a week, I walk to work, I write daily, I keep a journal, and I can cook like a motherfucker. (I also drink like a fish on the weekends, but whatever. I love beer and pub food and Irish fiddle music and good conversation and ALL of that blends together very well on a Saturday night in Montreal after I’ve put two thousand words to paper and I’m laughing heartily at quadrupling my daily word count.)
It’s taken a few months to get the formula just right, but I’m happy with the results of consistent effort.
That’s the moral: consistent effort. It takes work to get it right, to make it routine, to turn it into an addiction. You make it sacred, you make it a necessary component to your happiness, and you get it done.
You wouldn’t do it if you didn’t love it, right?
Not everyone is going to love what you do, or love you for doing it, but I’m getting to that. The important thing is not them — it’s definitely you. YOU need to love it, and YOU need to be an active participant in your passion, because there isn’t anyone else in the world equipped to do it for you. No one has your brass. No one else has your ambition. No one else can tell your story. Got it?
Let’s repeat that: No one else can tell your story.
Those first few times I had the sadistic impulse to drag my sorry carcass out of bed at six a.m. on a weekday, three hours before I was supposed to plant my butt in front of my office computer, it wasn’t love. It was a product of being pissed off at the world and myself for not being the sort of person who got out of bed at six a.m. on a weekday and dragged their sorry carcass to the gym.
Some people say think positive, I suggest that those people don’t cross me before my first two cups of coffee in the morning.
That’s my catalyst, apparently. That, and being told I can’t do something (or that I shouldn’t. I’m very in touch with my sixteen year old self in that regard.)
I woke up to my six a.m. “gentle wake-up daylight and bird sounds” alarm a few days back, getting ready to haul ass to “My Treadmill” (it’s definitely mine; no one touches “my ride” even though there are twelve others just like it nearby) and I did the first thing I usually do in the morning after smacking off the sound of chirping birds: I flip through my email on my iPhone while rubbing the crust out of my eyes with my free hand.
Swipe. Thumbpoke. Slide. Spam? Delete. Spam? Delete. Spam? Not spam. An actual message from a human! Thumbpoke open.
I received a message from a gentleman based out of Vancouver (fuck yeah, Canada!) who sent along a thanks for vocalizing pretty much what I’m reiterating here, inspiring him to get his thing done. A few months back, I posed my “origin” story as a horror writing lady at horror-writers.net: the bottom line was that I made a choice for myself. I chose to embrace the darkness, I chose to embrace the medium, I chose to wallow in the gore of the things that my folks wouldn’t have necessarily chosen for me had they been given the option.
Jesse, the prorietor of a horror-related venture himself, related to me that despite similar shaky support, has launched a Kickstarter for a very kickass little horror project called The Tasting. He did it despite negative input from family in friends. He did it even though the immediate response was not supportive.
He crushed his Kickstarter goals with a few days to spare.
The bottom line: haters gonna hate but you need to get out of bed in the morning if you believe in it. If you have even the inkling of a hope to create something bigger than yourself, there is a way to give it the breath of life despite the darkest circumstances.
Oftentimes, there will be forces set against you, deterring you from trying to achieve the things you want: laundry, for example. Feeding yourself. Bathing, maybe. Maybe you’re a victim of daytime television or you party too much. Maybe you’re tired every day from your day job. Guess what? SO AM I. So’s the rest of the world who don’t crunch amphetamines to keep going at the end of a long day.
And still… we pick up the pen, the paint brush, the tablet. We dig through out notebooks for inspiration. We put one word in front of the other until they start to make sense and the valve to that magical place where creativity flows is opened again. Sometimes the process sucks, but it’s still got to happen.
Just bloody go out and do it.
And if you ever have any doubt, dear darkly creative person:
You, horror writer; you, horror artist; you… you are necessary to create balance in a world where the Twilights and the 50 Shades of Grey are popularized because people are nervous about the things they might find if they looked too closely into the void.
Be brave, be stubborn, and go get it done.