Those words have been echoing in my head for years and are constantly refreshed by myself and a host of other folks. I’ve begun and talked myself out of countless projects and have folders full of everything from notes to outlines to rough chapters to fully compiled collections of completed work from other sources. They are all gathering dust. I always run into the “no one cares, it’s not worth the effort” monster and let it get the best of me.
In years gone by I could blame not having the right connections or publishers “not getting it.” I certainly sent proposals to several editors and publishers many many years ago only to have them reply with any number of things that essentially meant “no.” And surely I could have gone back and forth with them trying to convince them otherwise but for better or for worse I have a massive aversion to trying to convince people that what I’m doing is interesting. I assume people will either get it or they won’t, but I don’t want to be in the position or trying to explain anything to anyone. So I let those connections and often those ideas fall to the wayside. Luckily those people are no longer the gatekeepers and with things like lulu and the amazing success friends like Wil and Glen and Jon have had publishing their own books there is really nothing standing in my way anymore.
Other than actually doing it.
Which, as anyone who has read my blog in the past knows is actually a sizable hill to climb.
But it wasn’t always, and recently I’ve been trying to figure out what changed. This weekend I was showing Tara some of the records I put out and had forgotten a bit how much time and effort went into many of those. And they actually saw the light of day. I started wondering why things I started then actually got finished and why things I start now more often end up filed for later on. There are three major things I think that have an impact on that. Or at least they are the three things that come to mind initially for me:
1. Money. It takes some amount of cash to do things, either in the materials and production required or the time spent doing them which you need to be able to focus on and not be worried about how you are going to pay bills. In the Toybox days I saved up cash from a crappy day job, initially and then relied on sales of previous releases and student loans which I had no intention of ever paying back for the later ones. I don’t have any of those options available to me today so it ends up being something I stress about more than I would like.
2. Faith. Before I did anything I could only assume the outcome would be everything I hoped it would be. Before putting out a record the only result I could foresee was massive success. And that was a pretty powerful driving force. However after putting out almost 20 records over a 10 year span they rarely sold as fast as I wanted or got the reviews I was hoping for and mostly what I recall now is the heartache and debt I was left with. Of course that is my own fucked up perspective because as I learned showing the records to Tara, to the outside person those records don’t have any negative attachments. She didn’t know about the bad blood with that distributor or the nasty break up with this band. All she saw was the cool end result. I should probably try to look at all of this though other eyes every once and a while and remember that most people only see one side of things, and you can choose which side to show them. When I step towards any new project these days my thoughts of how cool it can be are always side by side with how much it might fail. I need to ignore the fail more often.
3. Feedback. When working with bands it was easy to see the need for our work. They would have a show and people would come out and pay money to see them. That’s easy math, anyone who is willing to pay to see the band play live is probably interested in checking out a record if they had one. Plus, it’s easier for me to put that on someone else. I can talk up how cool someone else band is or how fantastic someone elses work is. I can’t do that about myself. At all. I never have been able to. Maybe it’s being too self conscious or maybe it’s not wanting to come off like a self marketing douche, but it’s always much harder for me to determine if anyone would give a shit about something I’m working on myself and the idea of trying to gauge interest in my own stuff is filled with breakdown inducing fear. Which, admittedly, I should just get the fuck over.
Anyway, this is getting pretty far off the initial topic but I’m been running around my own head with this for weeks, months, hell probably years and wanted to just spit it out so I could get on with it.
With my blog I really don’t give a shit if anyone reads it. I know some people live and die by traffic numbers but I really never look because I’m doing this for me. This blog, and in fact posts like this very one I’m writing right now are self therapy. Yes it’s public but that’s because I have this goal of pushing “publish.” Anyone who knows me from highschool or college remembers the rants I used to write and photocopy and pretend they were zines or something so this is an old habit. Anyway, I write this blog for me and if others dig it then cool.
But a book isn’t for me.
If I’m writing a book I need to consider the audience, which is a scary idea. Does anyone actually want to read a book filled with the crap inside my head? Should that book be personal or technical, historical or fictional? If I decide on one is that a mistake and should I have really decided on one of the others? If no one likes the first one will I have the balls to continue with the second one? Do I write about blogging and about the web? Do I write about communities and networks? Do I write about self improvement and personal reflections? Do I write about relationships and interactions with others? I have a lot to say about all of them, and every one of those has been suggested as a topic by someone else, but I know that I’m the one standing in my way.
I also know that making a goal public makes it that much harder to complete, but since I don’t have a clear goal this is all random thoughts anyway. I do know I need to start doing things again. It’s been too long.