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How Bad Can it Get?


So I'm still reading "The Comic Toolbox" by John Varhaus... I get it, I'm a slow reader. It's not that it's a difficult read or anything, it's really quite a pleasant page-turner. The thing is, I'm studying the book, trying to see what I can learn about blogging/vlogging, from a book about comedy writing.

One of the early lessons in the book is about realizing that comedy is based on pain. If it's someone else's pain, even funnier. The comic writer zeros in on a commonly experienced pain or fear, and makes his/her character suffer...taking a bad situation, and always making it worse. That got me thinking, in my blog audience... you. What are you afraid of?

We talked a bit about this last time, but while then I was wondering what you were looking for in this blog, now I'm wondering what you fear. If I can tap into your insecurities, into your angst, then this blog may actually be of benefit to you and your creative career. While I can psychoanalyze someone I've never met, I can try to find out what my own fears and taboos are, and hope they're the same for you.

So what am I afraid of as an artist? I'm assuming that with minor exceptions, the same will be true for most creative careers. I mean, a singer has to worry about an open zipper more than I do... but the big stuff should be similar... not that I'm saying anything about how big your stuff is.

I guess the first obvious answer is the fear that I'm not good enough. I don't have the talent needed to be an artist, and that people are laughing at my genuine attempts at self expression. Yep, that would be a big one. I'm not talking about a fear of someone not liking my work. That's fair game, but to disregard or make fun of my work would be a legitimate fear.

In an earlier blog, I wrote about the imposter syndrome... you know, that sneaky feeling that you're actually a fraud, and at any moment, the entire world will realize that you're a fake, and it will all be over. That's the kind of fear I mean. Sometimes I'm afraid of things that are demonstrably false. I grew up on monster movies as a kid. I was never afraid at night, because I knew that there were no werewolves or vampires out there. They were just stories. But when a movie like Jaws came along, or horror films about psychopathic killers, that's a bit different. That could really actually happen.

So how likely is it that you or I have absolutely no talent? Is there any evidence to support that notion? Is there evidence to the contrary? Have people admired or bought your work? Have people asked or paid you to perform? I don't think there are many of us who would aspire to a creative career if there was zero evidence that we "are good enough". We are. The question that follows can be debated and explored. Am I good enough, to be picked up by a major gallery? Am I good enough to be published? Am I good enough to win a prize? Those questions are valid ones, but far less frightening than the first.

And the "imposter" question is just one of a few core doubts that can paralyze the creative. "I don't know how. And therefore will I look foolish because of my lack of knowledge and experience?", "What if they don't like me?... not just my work, but what if they don't like ME." "Is this just a pipe dream? Am I going to blow years of my life, and my savings for my old age, following a foolish dream?"

Those seem pretty core to me. So how am I doing? Am I on the right track? I know just writing these words down has my tummy churning and my palms sweating. That may be a validation that I'm close.

So we'll start from there.



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