It doesn’t actually feel like all that long ago that we were so heavily involved in the weird Christian Blogging Circle.
I guess when I say “we” here I don’t necessarily mean you who are reading this or, really, any one person in particular. It seems somewhat important to point that out for whatever reason. There’s no subtext here. There’s nobody in mind as I write. Other than myself. Maybe all of us? Probably not important.
In those days, things began simply enough. I sat in an office and felt like I should be doing things that weren’t related to the office. It was full of paperwork and phone calls and all kinds of things that didn’t engage a significant amount of my personality. In the most basic of terms, I needed to create something, so I did.
For years now, this has taken so many different faces. It was the Greatest Blog Of All Time, guest posts, short stories, The Burnsider. It was The Courtesy Laugh, Xtra Bacon, Running Out The Clock. It was Super Squad D or my personal YouTube channel. It was Twitch streaming, video essays, or even sometimes taking an entirely different job that might engage in a more complete way.
And here we are, nearly a decade later from that first initial itch; the first internal cry of “I NEED TO CREATE SOMETHING” and it still rears its head so often, disrupting the everyday routine that I’ve perhaps come to rely on as a crutch. And in this new world that I find myself in, where I am no longer fresh out of college and trying to find my adult identity, the call to create more often than not hits like a punch to the gut and less like the wake-up call that it used to be.
The question these days is rarely “What will I create?” but rather, “Why am I creating this?”
I used to believe it was simply in my blood, somewhere in my DNA that I needed to be creative. After all, I was the kid with the overactive imagination who would pass the time at home with my action figures, coming up with elaborate story lines for the world they lived in the fake world that took up the floor of my bedroom. I remember going to a friends house in elementary school and seeing his massive Lego collection, organized into a giant city block on a tabletop to the side of the living room. I instantly thought about the many adventures that the residents of this city might experience, and this friend told me, “No, we are just going to see how high up we can build things.”
It was demoralizing to a young version of myself, but hilarious to me now in my 30’s and knowing that this friend would go on to be a good businessman and manager, whereas I would go on to make videos and do concert production stuff for a living. Our paths might have been set up for us even then.
And maybe in the end that’s what it comes down to. I do things for a living now and during the height of my creative productivity, I worked in a slow office or could only find part-time employment. I was single, or dating, or being dumped, whereas now I am married to a very patient woman. So many things are different, so why am I still approaching the creative process the same way that I did ten years ago?
I’m not above thinking that maybe this struggle will remain in my mind for the rest of my life. I guess it’s not unfathomable to assume I may spend the next many years constantly wondering what the point of many things are. I can only assume that most of the times in which this would happen would be when many areas of life are comfortable, like I find myself in now. I’m making good money for maybe the first time ever, and when I come home from work there is a beautiful woman and a weird dog who are happy to see me.
There is something to said about being the starving artist, as a lot of times the starving is the feeling that motivates more than anything else.
Chad Gibbs told me once that either Noel or Liam Gallagher (they probably hate me for not remembering which one it was) once gave an interview where he said something along the lines of how the second album a band makes is the best. In the first, you’re just desperate to get anything out there and make money. In the second, you have the freedom to do a bit more of what you want to do, but you can also still relate to your fans because you’re still one of them. By the third, you’re flying in private jets and you have pet monkeys.
In return, the interviewer asked Gallagher if he had a pet monkey, and he said, “Yes, and now he’s touring the planet playing all my songs”.
The point is not that anybody I had a falling out with is touring the world playing my songs, because obviously that implies both a fallout that never happened and that I ever had an idea worth stealing. The point is that eventually, things change (sometimes they get better) and maybe you lose touch with some of the inspiration you once had. And maybe when I say “you” here I really only mean myself and that’s on me to figure out.
I am guilty of many things in my life, not the least of which being an attempt to fill the gaps in my life with many things instead of focusing on perhaps the one important thing. The urge to create can be shut up a bit by maybe doing two or three podcasts that nobody listens to or maybe making a video for work that I’m already getting paid to do, or a personal video essay nobody will watch or enjoy. Doing many, perhaps very safe things that aren’t really the push that I need. And I’m unsure, but maybe that’s what’s lacking: an actual push.
I’ve tried a little bit of everything so far in the creative process. And with each passing formulaic sports podcast or YouTube channel that gains and loses momentum too rapidly to follow, the questions rise more and more. It’s weird because none of these outlets are wrong, they just might be the wrong thing for right now.
I’ve done a little bit of everything, it seems. Maybe it’s time to stop and find a way to focus on the few things that actually matter.