A little while ago I wrote a guest blog for a great supporter of everything indie, Casey Ryan’s Cutting Room Floor where I talked about the first few months of making the transition from one side of the screen to the other. It’s been a big change from writing solo as an author – you can read that here: From Fan to Producer.
Writing that, and seeing friends, colleagues, others attempting indie projects, both successfully and not, started me thinking. We go through a lot of hassle to do what we love. We work awful day jobs, and then we work without pay to do what we want to do. We put in long hours; we lose sleep; we work when we’re ill; we neglect ourselves and our loved ones. Watch for my next post to hear more on the sacrifices, but I wanted to start off with a very important question. A question we often ask ourselves, a question all our friends and family wonder – and, if they dare, ask.
Why do we put ourselves through all that, sacrifice what we do, just so we can keep on creating (in whatever way it applies to each of us)?
There are a number of other questions that hide behind that first one: “How is it worth that?”, “How and why do we keep on doing it for years?”, “What possesses us to bare our souls the way we do, and take the bad that comes with (and sometimes seemingly without) the good?”, and a few more. We know them all, and have asked ourselves them at least as many times as other people have.
Is there an easy answer? Yes and no. Any answer is only easy until you dig below the surface.
The Easy Answer:
Go back up a bit and read the title of this blog. There’s your easy answer. We love – and I mean LOVE – what we do. So: we keep doing it.
If that’s all you need to hear then great, it was lovely seeing you, I hope you have a wonderful day.
If not, keep reading.
The Deeper Answer:
Examining my own reasons and asking other people their reasons always gives me the same basic answer. We really do love what we do – we have a passion to stretch ourselves, to share our art, to grow, to learn, to find our limits and push past them so we can make the best damn thing we possibly can.
Why? For ourselves. For our loved ones. For fans. For the group we work with. For each other. For you.
Why? To provide entertainment. To teach. To entertain. To bare our souls and in turn let you bare yours. To make a point. To make people laugh or cry. To make ourselves laugh or cry. To see what we’re capable of doing.
Why? Because we love it. We love the challenge. We love getting lost in the process. We love the fear and the nervous excitement of opening our hands and letting something new fly out into the world, to be loved or loathed.
Why? Because if we didn’t, we’d be missing an essential part of ourselves.
Why? Ask us, rather, why we breathe. We breathe because we can’t not: we create because we must.
Like running a marathon: you can’t get up one morning and just do it. You must push yourself, improve, know your body and how to feed it, care for it, train it. You can’t do that unless you’re really committed to running that marathon, unless some part of you won’t be complete until its run: unless you love it. You have to learn not to just train through it, but to love even the pain, because it takes you to higher levels.
This isn’t an easy industry to be in – there is no side of it which comes without trial after trial, test after test. We need to grow the talents and the skills to get through that, but they alone won’t take us onwards when you hit the wall.
Passion. Love. That feeling we get when we break through; when we finish something and know it’s good; when somebody responds to what we’ve done; when we realize you’ve touched someone in some unexpected way; when we realize we’ve fundamentally changed ourselves in the process.
In order to create, we must pour ourselves into what we do. Sometimes the reminders of why seem far away, and we cling only to the knowledge of our love for what we do. When food is scarce; when trolls abound; when nobody seems to notice; we do stop and ask ourselves why.
Sometimes we have no answer, and we stop – for a while or for good. Sometimes we have the answer, but we can’t remember why it is the answer. Sometimes we have the answer, and it keeps us going.
The point is this: without passion, we can’t create; if we can’t create, we lose a part of ourselves. We drive onwards because we need to as much as because we want to.
Thanks for reading all the way down. For doing so, I’m going to offer you a very badly kept secret.
There are a lot of trolls, a lot of haters, a lot of people who love to pick at things and try to make people feel bad. Sadly, they tend to succeed – the insults do get through. For these people, it seems to be easier to say something mean than something nice, and a barrage of insults at the wrong moment can make the most talented person falter.
There is a solution to this, and it comes from you: be that one that says something nice. If you’ve seen/heard/read something and there was something good about it – say so. Two minutes to write a few words go a long way to helping people keep creating, and a small amount of kindness can banish a whole lot of meanness.
Be the anti-troll, and be the reminder to people you see creating that their passion, and their heartache, is worth it.
Because it is. It really, really is.