Do less, but do it all.
2017 was, quite predictably, an exercise in resisting defeatism. This is not a strong suit of mine, and it has been dead exhausting, and I have failed.
I tried being politically active, and just ended up feeling guilty and hopeless because I couldn’t do it. I took on too much, got burned out, gave up. I’m not proud. I’m going to do better this year. I’m going to do small, concrete things, and give up on the big gestures and the public action that I just can’t do.
Produce content like a professional.
The first of the two casualties of the defeatism I couldn’t shake was this blog.
I have plenty of things to say. Fortnightly is a perfectly manageable update schedule. There is no reason not to post something, anything, on schedule. And yet, I went three months with nothing. I can be better than that. I have to be better than that, if I want to be anything.
I want to be an illustrator. My real, impossible dream is to illustrate adult books; as a reader, I love illustrations, and I know there are plenty of adult books that would be stunning with illustrations. The total lack of market for this is the only thing standing in my way. Still: I can be an illustrator. I can illustrate middle-grade books. I just need to prove it, and market myself.
I’m not ready for marketing yet. This year, I’m just going to prove it.
Remember the value of consumable art.
The second of two casualties, and the less concrete, was my visceral understanding of art as important.
In the face of 1930s Germany Take Two: American Edition, the only art that feels like it matters is the world-changing kind. The kind that directly stands up to the government, that challenges them and makes them afraid.
The truth is, art that gives people strength just because they like it is worth something. Even if it doesn’t directly challenge social injustice. Even if it fades from memory after it’s done its job. Holding people up with images and narratives that feel good matters.
And that’s the kind of art I make.
And that sucks.
I want to be big, and famous, and important, but I’m not. My heart is so drowned in hopeless despair that I have completely forgotten how much it matters to give just one person strength. I need to get over it. I need to dive headlong into what I really do so that it can be there for that one person who really needs it. Even if who I really am is small, and unimportant, and consumable.
Wish me luck.