Thanks again to those who have helped spread the word about my new dark fantasy novel Jake Carter and the Nightmare Gallery. Jake Carter is a special project for me because not only was it my first truly successful attempt at a novel, but it was a manuscript I worked hard on for seven long years. It wasn’t until this past year that I felt confident enough about my writing to get it done, bound, and in the hands of readers. Bludgeoning that old manuscript into my 2012 caliber was rough to say the least, but I have no regrets.
The internet age has allowed writers, artists, musicians, and filmmakers to blaze a trail, be daring, and find their audiences. We’re lucky to live in what I’ve dubbed “The Creative Wild West” where you can work hard, better yourself, and get something special out there for people to enjoy. But sometimes it can be scary. For every person who congratulates your hard work, there seem to be ten subjective somebodies who undermine it. The internet brings great freedom, but that freedom is often laced with snarkiness, backhanded compliments, and subjective opinions disguised as “intellectual feedback.”
It can be hard to know when your work is ready for publication, and certainly everyone should work hard to make it all that it can be. But sluicing through feedback, separating the subjective from the substantial, and reconciling your own vision . . . can drive you insane.
As I neared completion of Jake Carter and the Nightmare Gallery, I decided that I wanted a few thought provoking quotes for its opening pages. Art and the artist’s ability to create is a running theme throughout Jake’s story, and I came across some really cool quotes about what it means to be an artist, what it feels like to create, and how artists should think of themselves.
Here are some quotes that I think can really help creative people stay on track, levelheaded, and motivated as they create and refine their art:
“Have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it.”
“Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing.”
“There is no must in art because art is free.”
“A good artist has less time than ideas.”
“Creativity takes courage.”
“It is important to express oneself…provided the feelings are real and are taken from your own experience.”
“Why do people think artists are special? It’s just another job.”
“Life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around.”
“I’m convinced that fear is at the root of most bad writing.”
“. . . if you don’t want to work your ass off, you have no business trying to write well . . .”
“You can’t please all of the readers all of the time; you can’t even please some of the readers all of the time, but you really ought to try to please at least some of the readers some of the time.”
“In baseball, tie goes to the runner; for novelists, it goes to the writer.”
These last two quotes by the great Mr. Stephen King were crucial in keeping my head on
straight as I revised my writing this past year. I stand behind Jake Carter as being a great story with excellent characters. It’s the most thematically rich and polished piece of fiction I’ve yet produced. Period.
And yet, not everyone likes fantasy. Not everyone likes dark fantasy. And even the people who do like dark fatnasy . . . don’t like every dark fantasy. Stories are products of individuals, and they speak to some individuals better than others. Some people won’t “get” my story, and it’ll bother them too much. Other people won’t totally “get it” but they’ll still enjoy the tale and its quirky characters regardless. And God willing, somewhere out there is a 12 year old kid who may some day encounter my book who thinks “Wow! Jake is just like me!” But good fiction doesn’t need to have its themes and ideas falling off the bone like prime rib. It’s just gotta be honest.
Not everyone will enjoy your art. It’s okay. Just be confident and fearless about why some people will, and keep right on creating because that’s what you love to do.
Heed the feedback and advice of your peers, fellow artists, voracious readers, intellectuals, etc. Just know that they’re not the rule book (even if they sometimes act like they are.) There are some universal rules about art and writing, but in reality nobody is an expert. Eventually you start to develop your own rule book. It should be a flexible one, based on a solid foundation of hard work, trial and error, and the sound truths you alone can discover about your own craft and style. The people who hate your story will usually give you the best ideas for improving it . . . but stop short of allowing them to rewrite it for you. They don’t completely understand what you’re up to.
Fear is a creative prison, and I know a lot of people who keep themselves locked up because they are terrified of criticism. Furthermore, the internet puts all the criticism out there for everyone to see, like heads on pikes surrounding an impenetrable castle wall.
But what is there to fear really? The net can snark you all it wants, but you won’t even bleed. You may learn that what you’ve written, drawn, or produced just plain isn’t working, but so what? Do something else. That’s being professional.
Failure is nothing. All the most successful people throughout history and right up into the modern “biz” fail, lots of times. We just don’t remember them for that. (Did Joss Whedon give us “Doll House?” Uh, NO, he gave us “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and The Avengers dangit!)
Creative success has nothing to do with money or a huge following. It’s working hard, being productive, having confidence, fully understanding the value of what you create, and knowing that no matter how small your audience is . . . having that audience makes you rich. Go out there and make stuff! I’ll keep my eye out for it.
Jake Carter Press Release: http://www.kevinfolliard.com/blog/?p=283
Jake Carter on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Carter-Nightmare-Gallery-Kevin-Folliard/dp/1475006799/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1343833648&sr=8-1&keywords=jake+carter+and+the+nightmare+gallery
Kevin Folliard’s YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/kmfollia/feed?feature=context-cha