We've got a big mess on our hands!
September 21st, 2023
You are on your computer, and every time you move your mouse arm too far to the right it gently scrapes the corner of a bag of Sour Patch Kids with only the sour dust left inside it. You overextend your reach in an attempt to push the bag far enough away from you that it will no longer just barely touch you in that way you hate - but it accordions back. The only reason this bag is there is because it was the only spot on your desk that doesn't look like one of those AI generated "name one thing" images, and also it's fine because you're totally going to throw it away in like an hour or two, tops. Your desk looks like one of those coin-catapult arcade games and one more coffee cup with the remains of yesterdays latte in it will send a sea of garbage onto your floor (and you won't win any coins). You are me. And it's starting to feel like no amount of calendar reminders or disgusted houseguests is going to change the way you are. Or uh, the way I am? I'm having trouble keeping track of my stupid device so for now on, I'll be me and you stay you. A horrible thought, I'm sure. Shame is something that is vital to (at least my) growth and motivation. If I wasn't around the corner from it constantly, I'd probably wouldn't make any videos that are worth watching or like, know where Denmark is on a map. However, being a semi-famous podcaster has fucked this all up for me. I used to make something and feel like shit when no one wanted to watch it, like the goddamn American I am. Now, validation is something I can press a button for everyday. A tweet about Elon Musk exploding brain-first, a joke on the podcast calling myself "Blow-me Hawk", a narrative short film I slept on the floor to finish; all generators of a very similar amount of heart emojis and attention now. This is bad. It is harder to outsource my shame now, I have to grow it hydroponically myself. While I work, I try to imagine what someone I look up to or respect might say about the things I create. In my head, that usually looks them watching it in silence and handing my phone quietly back to say "nice, super cool" while I image what being waterboarded is like. That's top shelf shame right there. One hit could kill a pilgrim. Even so, it is hard to balance evaluating my work based on what I think is cool versus what others might think of it. I don't respect my taste enough, I don't think. And ultimately, if no one wants to watch it, saying it is "good" feels wrong in an almost mathematical way. I can rationalize that I will one day be in a stage of my career where I can trust my instincts, but it feels like I'll never know when I've finally arrived there. So if you see me on the street, let me know I suck shit out of an ass. I could really use it right now. Writing all that made me forget about my desk. Holy shit, what a catastrophe. I know it is overkill but being this big of a slob makes me feel almost unworthy of love. Or like my car should be taken away or something. Despite all of this shame though, I never do anything about it. For so long I've thought to myself, "I could be a clean guy. I just need to make it a priority." But that is definitely not the case. Shame doesn't always work? I guess it is different when it is something I attach my self-worth to.
Being creative is all I care to be. And yes, I'm messy. And shitty to be around sometimes. That's it. I'm a snail and my slime trail is uber eats bags and amazon boxes. Sometimes I have to clean stuff, but ultimately I've accepted I will always be this way. I'm okay with that now. Because when I eventually die an extremely tight dirt bike related sex-death, they will willingly dig through my mounds of garbage and hoarded items to hopefully find some things I made that really mattered. That is all I want. I think I'm allowed to feel that way.
August 8th, 2023
I've found myself in this position a lot: I've worked super hard on something, eliminated everything I felt was wrong with it, and I'm left with my final product; as well as complete indifference toward it as a feat of artistic accomplishment.
I've realized there's a crucial difference between removing flaws until I can live with something, and contributing ideas until I am happy with something. When working on any given project, it is common for me to feel like to my primary motivation to complete the job is to alleviate the anxiety associated with having committed to said job in the first place, and do right by those who rely on me to do so. That last sentence feels a bit like word salad, but the point is, I'm realizing that in order to like the shit I make, I must primarily be motivated to do the work itself, rather than accept the work and make sure it gets done for some sort of tertiary benefit or reward.
Wanting to make a commercial for a big brand makes perfect sense. It feels good to feel trusted with something delicate, that many people will see. To be chosen for your eye, to tell a story - even if only to coerce people to eat a 3000 calorie sandwich from KFC. But when working with the sole mentality that you want to do something, simply to have done it (aka, for it to exist as a finished product with your name on it), you bypass the opportunity to take on work that has a meaningful process to you. The opportunity to dedicate time and creative energy toward something that is less about having something and more about making something.
I've gotten good at occasionally tricking myself into thinking a specific project is one I'm working on with passion. Sometimes a project has the skin of a project I'd love to do, but not the flesh and bones; which is an overly literary way to explain that when you want to be a Director more than you want to direct things, you end up in a position where you collect Pokemon cards in the form of projects on your portfolio, and you really aren't that into Pokemon.
This isn't to say I don't love what I do - because I really do. Despite my admission to being good at tricking myself, I feel pretty certain about this. I'm just beginning to realize that aiming my time toward projects that contain process that I'm excited about, is ultimately what will land me in a position where I'm looking at something I just made and thinking-
"yo I kinda snapped."