"If you decide not to make things, all you've done is deprive the world of all the stuff you could have brought to it."
This is a great quote by Neil and not something that I haven't said before, but I've never said it like that, and I love the way he put it: "...all you've done is deprive the world..." That's just fantastic.
Often, people will feel great conflict over creating. It can be debilitating.
"Is it good enough?"
"Am I good enough?"
"What if it's no good?"
"Am I just wasting my time?"
Oh, it goes on and on and on, and, if you visit enough blogs of pre-published writers or, even, some post-published writers, you will run into all of it and more.
I think, maybe, we're asking ourselves the wrong question. Oh, I get it. "Is it good enough?" is an important question if you're trying to get traditionally published and all of that, despite the evidence that plenty of stuff that isn't really "good enough" gets traditionally published all the time. Some of that stuff that isn't "good enough" even becomes incredibly popular. But that question, that question about being good enough, isn't so important in a digital age of self-publishing. If it was ever important at all.
I think the better question to be asking is, "Is it me enough?" Is it the story that you want to tell? Is it the story that only you can tell? Are you bringing to the world that thing that only you can bring to it?
Of course, that circles back around to "am I good enough?" and "what if no one likes me?" Questions, really, about self worth and esteem, and those can be... well, those can be hard to ignore. But we need to ignore them. We need to ignore them so that we can focus on that story that can only come from us.
So... some examples:
George Lucas made a short film while he was in college called "THX-1138" which is supposed to be brilliant. When he graduated, he wanted to make a movie called American Graffiti, but he couldn't get anyone to be interested in that. What he found was people that wanted him to make a full length feature out of THX. He said THX wasn't a full length kind of thing, but that's what they wanted, so that ended up being his first movie. It didn't do as well as everyone else thought it would. Once he was able to make Graffiti, which he did for almost no money because THX had flopped, it became the most successful film ever made up to that point and held that title for something like 30 years.
Lucas was under contract with Universal for two movies, and the next movie he wanted to make was this thing called Star Wars which Universal wouldn't back. They wanted a sequel to Graffiti. Lucas said that story was finished and didn't want to make a sequel. Eventually, he got 20th Century Fox to take Star Wars, and Universal got American Graffiti 2. How many of you knew there was a sequel?
Tolkien wrote this whole history of this place called Middle Earth, but he couldn't get anyone interested in what he called The Silmarillion. He ended up getting an unrelated novel, The Hobbit, published. The publisher wanted a sequel, but Tolkien didn't have a sequel in mind for it nor did he want to write one. They insisted. He did try, but what came out of that attempt was more Middle Earth, The Lord of the Rings, which the publisher didn't want. They ended up taking it anyway, probably realizing they just weren't going to get what they wanted out of Tolkien. And, in the end, The Hobbit became part of Middle Earth.
Heck, even Twilight was something that came straight out of Stephanie Meyer, because, before that book, if you had asked anyone if they would have thought that sparkly vampires would be a good idea, I don't think you would have found a single person that would have said "yes."
I could go on and on with these examples and go one to debate the success or lack there of when artists strayed from what the story that was coming from them into other areas. For instance, the thing most criticized about Return of the Jedi is the ewoks, a thing which Lucas did not envision but fell back on because he didn't feel like he could realize his vision of an epic battle of wookies against the Empire. There's Kevin Smith and his decline in success as he tried to move toward making movies he thought people wanted rather than making the movies he wanted to make. And more and more and more.
The thing is, though, when you try to make what you think people want, everyone is disappointed, because you can't meet the expectations of everyone and, then, you haven't even made something you're happy with, so no one is happy. Make the thing that only you can make -- the book, the movie, the painting -- and don't worry about the rest. Don't deprive the world of that thing that only you can bring to it.
I'll leave you with this:
[This post has been brought to you by the Insecure Writer's Support Group.]