Here’s a photo that someone dropped on the ground. A simple family picture in a protective plastic cover, dropped on a daily outing….
…on the moon.
That photo belongs to astronaut Charles Duke, who left it on the lunar surface after the Apollo 16 mission. I’m going somewhere with this, trust me.
Let’s talk about art. Writing. Painting. Filmmaking. Singing. Photography. All of it. Why do we do it? Why do we need it? So many of us pour our hearts and souls into the creation of an object, an act that can take moments or minutes or years. with no guarantee that even one person will see it or appreciate what went into it. And even then, how many will take the time to say they enjoyed it, or let you know if it moved them?
It can be frustrating. It IS frustrating. But my perspective shifted recently, a slow-moving payoff to a ride I didn’t even know I was taking. Years ago, I started forming friendships in online writing communities, little tributaries of support and encouragement. Places to voice frustration, quietly celebrate small victories, and generally keep each other moving. I saw others in the group gaining success, and it encouraged me to keep writing. Eventually I published my first novel, and now, a second one. And I hope it does well. I love it, I think you’ll love it, and I want movie deals and action figures and graphic novel tie-ins and the whole works. But if none of that happens, I’m okay with it. Through these friendships I also founded a small press. Micro press. Mini-micro. You get the idea. I want to put other people’s stories out into the world, and I want them to be in beautiful books that are about more than just words and paper. I want physical books to be desirable objects. It’s a lofty goal, but I think it can be done, even in the doom-and-gloom age of the Kindle. (and I love my Kindle too).
Last year, some of my writer friends came to me with a vision. They wanted to collaborate. They wanted to make books and they approached me. They will never know how much they did for my soul simply in telling me that they had faith in me to help bring their projects to life. I’m going to fight like Hell to make the most beautiful magic I can with them. Thunderdome Press will be releasing stunning collections from Amanda Gowin and Nikki Guerlain this year, along with two other short story collections. I’m working with Rebekah Tripp, a talented actress who’s going to be doing some voiceover work (and god willing, be the lead in the full-cast audiobook) for my newest novel Miss Massacre’s Guide to Murder and Vengeance. (shameless plug). I need to make a book trailer, not because they’re effective advertising, but because I want to try it and see what I can do with the medium. All of this creative energy has me in the frame of mind to try things, to experiment, and to find out what I can do and who I can help. It’s overwhelming, and sometimes feels like more work than I can handle, but working on it, being in the middle of it, bouncing around ideas and thoughts, it made me realize that this is the important part of the journey. What comes at the end is up to the reader (or viewer, or listener, or whatever art you’re in). What’s important for us is the act of creation, the reminder that the final artifact of collaboration is a product, but the actual product is an us that only exists while the art is happening. And maybe this sounds too kumbayah and hippie-dippy, but I think it’s true. We need to lift each other up and support each other, even when it feels like all of our energy is gone. Give it all and then give more. It’ll come back. That’s what energy does.
All of these things are going to require massive amounts of effort from a lot of people, and for most of us, the work will be the only real compensation we get. Maybe it doesn’t get noticed. Or it only gets seen by one person. It doesn’t matter, because the magic of it, the necessity of it, is in the act of creation itself. The result will always be there, like that tiny photo on the surface of the moon that no living thing may ever see again.
But it’s there. And it’s proof forever that something magical happened. One man dropped that photo, but he stood on the shoulders of hundreds if not thousands of men and women who carried him to that moment. Every day is a chance, not a guarantee, to make. Worry and fear are the only things in your way. Maybe you can’t drop them, but if you bring them into the collaboration with you, your fellow strugglers will lighten your load.
I promise the next post will be about monkey farts or something. Thanks for reading!
“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.” – Douglas Adams