I started off my life thinking that I was An Actor. Then I revised that to I’m An Actor Who Can Write. And then I revised my opinion of myself again to I’m A Writer Who Can Act. Which are three very different things.
Hint: Be open to changing your opinion of Who You Are And What You’re Called To Do. Be honest with yourself!
At first I wanted to write for the screen, then, when that didn’t work out, I thought I might write for the stage. Then, when that didn’t work out, I realised that what I really should be doing is writing for myself.
I’m one of those creatives who has a clear vision in his head of what the work should look like. Which means I’m not really suited to working as part of a team, which necessarily involves compromise. All the evidence from my time at Uni was only really pointing in one direction, so I thought I may as well take the hint, forego my own expectations and desires and head through the only open door that was in front of me. Self Publishing.
Why Self Publishing? Well, for a start, you don’t need someone else’s permission to make progress. No Gatekeepers to try and get past in order to make your way.
If you want to be an actor, you’re reliant on a Gatekeeper to say “Yes, we’ll let you into Drama School” or “Yes, we would like to offer you the part”.
If you want to be a playwright, you’re reliant on a Gatekeeper to say “Yes, we would like to produce your play”.
If you want to be an author, you’re reliant on a Gatekeeper to say “Yes, we would like to publish your book”.
But with Self Publishing there are no Gatekeepers!
If I wanted to write and publish a book, I didn’t have to get the permission of someone else to be able to do it. I didn’t have to hope that some else thought it commercial enough to be worth spending money on in the hope of making more money from it that it cost to print.
Besides, nobody know what the market wants. They only think they know what the market wants. JK Rowling’s Robert Galbraith experiment proves that. Everyone’s opinion of the Cormoran Strike novels changed when they found out that Galbraith was in fact Rowling’s Pen Name. Funny, that…
So for me Self Publishing was the obvious thing to do. It was not only liberating, it also allowed me the creative freedom to do what I wanted to do instead of what an Editor or Publisher or TV Production Company/Movie Studio/Theatre Company wanted from me.
Which meant that instead of doing stuff I didn’t really want to do but had to do to get my degree, I could do what Neil Gaiman said I should do [Make Good Art] and do it on my own terms. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before, but I got there in the end.
And speaking of Neil Gaiman, I love the Art Matters illustrated edition of his famous speech illustrated by Chris Riddell, though why they changed the title I don’t know. I’d recommend it over the Chip Kidd graphic text version any day.
The video of Gaiman’s Make Good Art speech is a classic. If you’re a Creative it’s one you should watch whenever your Inner Critic is messing with your motivation to get you back on your creative feet again.