|Epic last stands don't get much more epic than this.|
Proud to say I've been an obsessed Gears of War fanboy since it was first announced back in 2005. I was in short pants back then. And now I draw crazy shit like this.
For about a year now, Swordpony has gone without updates. It started as a short break while I prepared illustrations and looked for ways to improve on the rough draft. But before long I just wasn't writing anymore, and then I stopped drawing... and by then months had passed. With every passing day it grew harder and harder to pick up the pen again, and for most of that year I wasn't sure why.
Hell, I tried other projects. I tried to go back to sketching random shit, but the most I managed was a couple pieces of fan-art for The Last of Us. I even tried to write other stories, even just short stories. But try as I might, the spark just wasn't there. And every time I ran into that wall, the weight of this failure became just that much heavier.
Which is stupid as fuck, because writing and drawing is seriously all I'm good at. And there are millions of artists and authors out there who struggle with blocks every day, but in the end they all get back on that bike and finish the race (to mangle an oft-used metaphor).
Well, I know the "why" now. And it came as something of a surprise.
When I first started writing fanfiction I told myself it was because my heart was in those projects, and because I could use those projects to strengthen my talents through practice. It was the same with fan-art. As well, from the beginning I've been told (and read) that creating should be for myself, that I should do it for my own entertainment and my own betterment. And while that's probably true, it turns out I was lying to myself. I really wasn't doing any of that stuff "just because." I was writing (and drawing) for attention. For praise. For the entertainment of others, maybe, but mostly for entirely selfish goals.
This realization went hand in hand with another epiphany just the other day, when I asked myself what I hold as my greatest desire in life. And in retrospect it was obvious. All my life I've been obsessed with stories of the past, the incidental anecdotes belonging to people long dead and all but forgotten. Not the big stories of historical events and famous people, but the little stories, the memories of the local and the unknown, how they weaved in and out of those events as the threads of a larger cloth. Why? Because I fear deeply for my own mortality and struggle every day with the futility of life. We are all of us stories, and fleeting whispers of stories at that. Some people rise to fame and last for generations in the minds of millions, even billions of others. But most of us are just another face in the crowd, and the stories of our own will last but for a single generation. Maybe two, but that's if we're lucky.
What does that have to do with what I want most in life? Again, in retrospect it's obvious. I want fame. I want to be remembered, to craft works of art and literature that will not be forgotten. Probably I want to be famous in my own time, but few among the few have such a comfort. Most of the famous artisans and painters, writers and craftsmen, they went to their graves with little to their name. It was only after their deaths that they were discovered.
And fanfiction? Fan art? What does that give me? Sure, it's really no less legitimate than "real" creation. Many artists on the internet are massively famous purely FOR their fan works, and their fans stick with them even in the transition to original creations. Some fanfiction becomes cultural touchstones for hundreds of thousands of people, and our own community is proof of that. But... every time I put pencil to paper or fingers to the keyboard, part of me struggled with that deeply repressed, utterly selfish desire for something more long-term. In short I was in combat with myself on a fundamental level. Even though I desired attention and praise, some subconscious piece of my mind felt only guilt. The block on my creative process hasn't been due to hassles in my real life, or even anything else I could assign blame to.
The block, as much as it shames me to say it, was and always has been shame.
Honestly, though? I'd still write Swordpony. But it would only be out of a desire for your attention and the hope that one day the story (and any follow-up after it) would have its own TVTropes page, its own fans, and a place in the collective mythos of our pony-centric sub-culture.
There, that's it. I just... I had to get that out there, because I was tired of lying -- to myself and to anyone who has ever seen my work. I'm sick of making false promises and never finishing anything beyond short stories (and that's a rarity in itself). I'm sick of feeling drained and guilty after just one sketch. I'm sick of failure, I'm sick of sitting on my ass all day playing video-games and watching Youtube videos and feeling sorry for myself. But it seems I don't know how to change. So... I don't know. This wasn't written as a plea for help, but I won't say "no" to help that is offered. That would be tantamount to suicide.
I just... no. You know what? Honesty. I ask now for help. Be it advice, or pre-reading, or links to articles, even just an "I feel you bro." I want to make Swordpony happen and I want to entertain as many of you as possible without hamstringing that story. And there's a dozen other stories I want to make happen. Comics as well. But I can't do it alone.
So if Swordpony appeals or appealed to you in any way, or if you just want me to draw more ponies with swords, let this be my statement of terms. Nothing has changed. I will not whore for attention and I will not beg you to read my shit; nor will I only create in exchange for comments. I will not appeal for pity. But I will ask for your criticism in the hope that my work is strong enough to earn positive feedback. And I will be honest with myself, which means being honest with you (whoever you are, if indeed anyone reads this). I'll try, at least. And if you see bullshit, call me out on it, because to be honest I'm not half as self-aware as I once thought. If I was then all of... this, would have been obvious to me years ago.