Getting it ‘out there’.

Liam Sharp • November 23rd, 2009 @ 6:13 am • Uncategorized

Hi all. Jeff very kindly invited me to drop by as a guest blogger while he was away on his signing tour – hope it’s going great Jeff! My name is Liam Sharp and I’m primarily known as a comic book artist from the UK. My first novel, God Killers, launched in Easter this year and is on it’s second edition.
I was at a fantastic little comic convention in Leeds at the weekend called Thought Bubble, and a question came up about getting writing ‘out there’ on the one panel I was involved with. What came out of that – and always does when this question arises – is that not only is it pertinent to writers and artists, (and most likely musicians too,) but that there is also no clear answer. In the creative world there are so many factors it’s hard to know where to even start!
In my experience most creative people are by nature extremely conflicted and dual. We are prone to self-doubt, and yet have enough self-belief to keep going. We’re generally good at spending hours and even days of our lives hidden away from the world, and yet we are required to emerge into the light, blinking and fearful, to sell ourselves, and our wares, to the jaded populace. We’re sensitive, introspective and introverted, but we have to learn to be thick-skinned and – to one extent or another – extrovert if we are to ever get noticed.
Nobody is going to do it for us!
Someone asked me how their sensitive, self-doubting, talented artist friend could get his work seen. The truth is he can’t, not without putting himself and his work ‘out there’. And ‘out there’ he’ll face the varied and often painful setbacks – the propensity for opinion to masquerade as harsh truth. (It’s easy to believe the views of others and discard our own, and strangely it’s often the less talented who are gifted with delusional notions of greatness with respect to their actual ability!) There have been long years when I lost faith in my own work, as though it were somehow marred by something ugly I couldn’t quite grasp. You can easily lose your way in that mind-set. You remain in a mental trench, pacing up and down, afraid to look out over the rim to see what’s ‘out there’.
Psychological aspects and pressures aside, the true defining factor about creativity as a way of life is encapsulated in actions. That is to say, if you want to write you have to write! You want to draw? Draw! It’s tenacity, will, the fact that you do it, and will always do it, regardless, for it’s own sake, and for the inherent rewards such actions offer.
Fiscal reward has to be a possible end product, not an initial goal.
What surprises a lot of people is that even as a respected veteran in any creative field nothing is guaranteed. We still have to pitch and can suffer long periods without work – it is, to use the old cliché, a feast or famine lifestyle for the majority. One year I had so many pitches passed over that, in a bleak moment, I added up the potential years of work those pitches represented had they all been picked up – The sum amounted to thirty-eight years. Even established pros have to remain tenacious!
To this day I have many projects that may or may not amount to anything. Some of these are almost as old as I am. And it’s about the love of creativity itself – the sudden bursts of inspiration, or the long slow dawning of an idea – this is the magic of what we do, and the source from which we derive our deepest pleasure. This is what makes an artist, a writer, a singer, musician, poet or performer – the muse that fuels us.
Inspiration is a drug, and we’re addicted to it.
Chase those moments then, and don’t give up. Know it may never resolve itself, but do it anyway – and don’t be too hard on yourselves either! Enjoy it. And get it ‘out there’.
Very best of luck,
Liam.

3 Responses to “Getting it ‘out there’.”

  1. Ian Macleod says:

    Couldn’t agree more with what you say. It’s not quite as bad for writers as it is for actors who have to stand on stage and audition, but the feeling is pretty much the same. Writing is a high risk activity and I guess that putting various tender aspects of yourself on the line is what it’s all about. Some of this never really feels very natural for most writers. But who ever said that it should do?

  2. Rick Porven says:

    Liam, needess to say I am inspired at your tenacity and impressed at how you have reinvented and reestablished yourself throughout the years. And you fail to add that you are a family man and that you do all this in spite of all the responsibilities and obligations that entails.

    I’ve often wondered why the business side of things is so difficult for the artist/writer. It is almost universally assumed that the talents we have developed over years of training, practice and dedication, are just God (for lack of a better word) given gifts that we should somehow not profit from. Along with the ridiculous stereotype of the starving artist.

    In contrast, a person who similarly dedicates his entire life and talent to learning a professional sport is rewarded with obscene amounts of money and adoring fans.

    There are a few creative individuals that do reach these heights of success, yet in the art/writing world, I don’t feel the proportions of successes/failures are quite the same ratio. Maybe my perspective is somewhat jaded by living in the U.S.

    Either way, you are correct. It is up to the individual to sell themselves as best they can. No one else will do it for them.

    Cheers

  3. Liam Sharp says:

    Ian – thank you so much for the comment. I wonder, with regard to writers and actors, if it actually isn’t JUST as hard – actors by necessity having to perform, whereas the writerly instinct isn’t always to do that? I for one struggle to read aloud – it may be the dyslexia that runs through my family like a curse, or it may be nerves, lack of practice, whatever. I’ve learnt to cope with talking in public – just about! – but it’s not something I would have set out to do through choice!
    Rick – thanks for that. I can’t comment on sports people, I don’t know any! Perhaps there are just as many who tried and failed, or who were discouraged, led down a less precarious path. The one saving grace is that we, as creatives, can continue our careers to the bitter end, and often we are able to keep getting better…
    So cheers for small mercies eh?

    Take care,

    Liam.

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