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This week I punted on a story that just wasn’t going anywhere; I hate doing that, and I especially hate doing it when the editor for whom I was doing the story seemed so keen to have it, but it was frankly not my best work and I suspect he would have had to reject in the end anyway. Better in the long run at this stage to let it go so both he and I can devote the mental resources to something else.

This, combined with the gear-grinding on Arclight Adventures, has led me to reflect on just what it is I want to accomplish with my creative endeavors, why it is that I do them — and why I seem to have been having difficulty with them lately. And I think I’ve discovered at least one psychological factor that’s been holding me back, i.e., “fear of commitment.”

Y’see, Suburban Jungle and NeverNever consumed so much of my life for so long, that there is a part of me that’s frankly afraid to get that wrapped up in something again. I loved doing my comics, don’t get me wrong, but there were plenty of times when it could also be a draining, demoralizing, downright painful experience, and part of me is shying away from that.

Another issue has been my own underlying motivation for doing the work, and here I have not been pleased with what I saw in the mental mirror. Y’see, for both NN and SJ, my motivation was that I loved the work — I was making those comics because I wanted them to exist, I thought they were good and worthy things that would make the world a better place by being in it. This has been less true of my more recent projects. In fact, at the end of the day, what has been motivating me lately has been ego.

I don’t want the entirety of my creative output to be “ten years of webcomics and done.” I don’t want the history of pop culture to say of The Gneech: “Known, by those few who do, as the guy who did The Suburban Jungle.” I want to leave a bigger footprint.

A natural feeling, perhaps, but a terrible reason to be doing any major undertaking. Somebody recently described me in my LiveJournal as “dedicated to my own epicness” — said as a joke, yeah, but it still had the sting of truth to it. I should be thinking about the work itself, and the readers out there who will hopefully get something out it, not about what it will do for my prestige and/or fragile egg of a sense of self-worth.

So … what to do about it? Well, for starters, I’m blowing away all of my current “projects” (which have been more placeholders than actual work anyway), except for the Short Story Geeks Podcast, because I have made a commitment to my fellow podcasters on that one and I intend to honor that. But for everything else, as of this blog entry, I’m no longer “working on X” for a half-dozen half-formed ideas.

Second, I’m going to look at each of the things I have been working on with a critical eye and determine which, if any, are actually worth doing on their own merits, rather than because I think it’d be “good for my career,” so to speak. If a project can actually justify its own existence, then I will add it to my to-do list, even if the due date is “sometime after 2015,” but if not, it’s going into the proverbial sock drawer indefinitely.

I do know of at least one project which will move up in the priority list, a YA collaboration with Mrs. Gneech, actually, which we’ve been talking about on-and-off for several years now. We recently sat down and hashed out a lot of things about it, to the point where I think we have a pretty good vision for what it should be like. It’s not something that really builds on anything I’ve done before (except in the vague sense of having some fantasy elements), nor really is likely to have immediate appeal to my established audience, but it is something about which I can confidently say its existence would be a +1 for the world. :)

As for what other projects will be added back in, I couldn’t tell you at this stage. If you have one you’d like to advocate for, I’d love to hear it!

-The Gneech

Originally published at gneech.com. You can comment here or there.

Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
huskyteer
Aug. 17th, 2011 03:24 pm (UTC)
Sorry you're canning the short story (if it's that one, and I guess it is), but excited to hear of the YA project. Obviously this is an area dear to my heart and I'll watch your progress with interest.
the_gneech
Aug. 17th, 2011 03:32 pm (UTC)
If it's the Roar 4 story you're thinking of, yes, it's that one. :) Your suggestion for it helped quite a bit, actually, but it still wasn't really salvageable in its current form. I might revisit it later. :)

-TG
huskyteer
Aug. 17th, 2011 03:39 pm (UTC)
Ah well, I hope it will bide its time and emerge in due course!
oceansedge
Aug. 17th, 2011 03:32 pm (UTC)
Please tell me that Brigid and Greg aren't going away??? I look forward to each new episode with an unreasonable glee.

(but don't let the big pussycat eyes guilt you into keeping them or anything)
the_gneech
Aug. 17th, 2011 03:34 pm (UTC)
I expect B&G will stick around in their current form, as they're just things I toss off when a cute idea comes to me. :) I'm talking more about big projects here.

-TG
rowyn
Aug. 23rd, 2011 05:47 pm (UTC)
I wanted to vote for B&G too. I wouldn't complain if they got upgraded to Big Project (eg, that book you've talked about that never jelled, or even just more frequent episodes). But no pressure!
kylet
Aug. 17th, 2011 07:06 pm (UTC)
Fairly valid reason; once you get started on a big, ongoing project, there's a lot of reader pressure for more, and more often. It's daunting.

As primarily an artist, MY goal was to have something up that was better-looking than my previous project...it's like, "dear lord I don't want to be known for THAT art." I'm not sure how it works with writing.

So where does "doing a project just cuz I'm passionate about it" fall into the equation? Mainstreamness and critical acclaim have varying overlaps with that. I'm mainly curious re: Arclight Adventures, which was going a direction you didn't want, but seemed like something you just thought was fun.

And what's YA?
the_gneech
Aug. 17th, 2011 07:14 pm (UTC)
YA = "young adult." :)

Re: Arclight, the constant "going a direction I didn't want" kinda sucked the fun out of it. I do think it's salvageable, but it's an intimidating project. If I can find a way to make it more fun and less scary, that will certainly increase its chances of actually happening!

-TG
kensterfox
Aug. 17th, 2011 09:21 pm (UTC)
You know, I didn't really intend a sting of truth in that comment, and that's an important distinction, as I often do intend them. And apparently it did sting, enough for you to remember the comment almost three months later.

I think an important thing to keep in mind is that epicness is relative. For a lot of us reading your comics, website, Twitter and Facebook posts, etc., having a body of work that people will want to shell out $100 (in THIS economy!) for is pretty damn epic already. Sure, you want more, and sure, you want to do bigger and better than you've done before, and there's nothing wrong with that. But you've already proven that you can do what you love and people will pay attention. I promise, SOMEONE is going to appreciate your sparkling and incisive wit, no matter what you do.
the_gneech
Aug. 17th, 2011 10:10 pm (UTC)
Well, I didn't think there was anything mean to the comment or anything like that. It was more of an "it's a fair cop" sort of moment. :)

I have a giant "you're not worthy" monster lurking in my brain; the main way I have of getting it to shut up is to do things I can point to and say "Oh yeah? Then what about THAT?" And it does help. :) However, that tactic is susceptible to counter-attacks of "what have you done for me lately?"

Unfortunately, that particular battle can end up poisoning what should be the real point of my work -- i.e., the work itself -- by making it be all about me instead. That's what I'm trying to fix here. :)

-TG
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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