Friday, September 05, 2008

Fangirl Fridays: The Road To Me

First, I wanted to apologize for not posting that often this week. I feel really creatively blocked. I feel as if I am in a transitional point in my life (though I know I've been saying this for a while -- well, it's been a bunch of transitions). Plus -- it's really really hot in my apartment, and it's not helping. I'm a big fan of Fall weather, weather that has yet to appear in my neck of the woods. The heat irritates me, it attracts bugs, and the numerous fans positioned around the apartment are not helping.

Part of the creative block is the result of a decades-long struggle I have with being truly, truly myself. When I see artists, or even regular folk, dress and write and paint and act the way they completely want to -- I'm jealous. Sometimes I also think they're nuts. But overlapping that is jealousy.

Because I just can't risk the embarrassment. I can't risk not being loved. I can't risk losing everything. I mean, "Goodbye To Comics" was easy. I had absolutely nothing. The only thing they had to take away from me was nothing.

It's like bringing my vampire novel to a publisher and them wanting to turn it into a porno and me going along with it against my better judgment. Or taking my memoir to an agency and them wanting to turn it into a tell-all about sex in the comic book industry and me going along with it against my better judgment. Or going into the hair salon and wanting a short cut but not getting it because I'm afraid people will like me less if I look less feminine. Or going through the trouble of uploading 400+ pieces of artwork on Flickr and then setting the privacy preferences so only I can see them. Or leaving out elements of who I fundamentally am so I can be a "good" leader of a feminist organization.

Fuck it, I can't take that any more.

I want to be liked, I want to be adored, I want people to say "nice job, Val," and yes, I want gigs, but I cannot cannot cannot cannot cannot be anyone other than myself.

And when I'm myself -- when I'm myself, trust me, I'll be a more mellow and happy person to know.


  1. Anonymous12:26 PM

    Nice Job, Val!

  2. Anonymous1:01 PM

    So wait, does this mean that there won't be any vampire porn?

  3. To touch on the least important detail:

    Oh oh! Get it short. I am on team short haircut to the max.

  4. You've been struggling with some tough challenges the last year, while working out years of damage to your insecurities. That's an honorable battle, and one worth suffering through. Look at all the progress you've made!

    I'm thinking, perhaps, that you might get the validation you need most when paradoxically you don't need it - when you are yourself, even if that's whatever it is and not what you project might be cool, that's when people respond to you.

    A little like that line from Three Kings, where "you get the courage to do the thing you're scared of doing after you do the thing." I like you just the way you are, as struggling and haggard, wise and concerned as you often are.

    Think of your psyche as a blade of finely made viking steel, hard and flexible in just the right formula that you are what people need to cut away the illusions. Your experiences have made you prized beyond measure, stronger and smarter than you know until you discover that secret for yourself.

  5. Nice job, Val. You done good. Have a great (and hopefully cooler) weekend. :-D

  6. So be yourself. I know ya said all the reasons why ya won't let yourself be, but simple fact is at the end of the day you're the one stuck with you 24/7, not anyone else. Ain't nothing worth sacrificing your own identity for. It's the only thing that's unconditionally ours. (Ya know, except when people steal it on the internet and what not... :P)

    BTW, totally with you on the fall weather. Fall is my favorite season, October my favorite month, Halloween my favorite holiday. I'm all about fall. Not too hot, not too cold, and pretty colors all around.

  7. (I'm a first time poster and I might be overstepping the line with this post...)

    Strange. I've never had the impression that you were holding back with your opinion or shying away from it, if there was the threat of not being liked.

    Rather I got the feeling, that you're a strong, opinionated individual who has her head in the right place.

    Of course, those impressions are merely from reading OS, so they might be limited.

    Yet, on the other side, it might be that your own perception is slightly off - because you're too close to see the big picture.
    (I might be way off here, but I've had basically, the same problem, so it's not impossible...)

  8. Interesting... you've mirrored my concerns and struggles when it comes to my own writing and blogging. Though this is the internet, and one would think that it's somewhat easier to be yourself here, the truth is that it's not, unless you remain completely anonymous. But then, what's the point? But like you, it's not just with blogging or writing, it's present in most facets of my life. People tell me this, and I usually don't believe it, but figured that I'd give it a shot here anyway: Don't worry about what anyone else thinks or says. Write/Do what you want for your own sake, not for the sake of others out there. Nothing ventured, nothing gained and all that. Crappy haircut will grow back. Crappy choices can be fixed. Crappy writing will be forgotten.

    For what it's worth, like so many others out there I imagine, I've been working on my "great American graphic novel" for several years now... bursts of inspiration alternated with bouts of self-doubt. I sometimes feel like Michael Douglas in that movie the Wonder Boys, struggling to write his next book (except I never had that first best seller in the first place).

    Hang in there, and as far as writing/art goes, follow your heart because your mind will only mess with you and convince you that you shouldn't post that post, that you need to do yet another rewrite, or that something or another isn't worthy. From what I've read of your writings, I'd say you've found your voice already, and I for one enjoy it, warts and all.

    Not to speak for all your readers, but I think that it's that warts and all approach that people appreciate, and enables "us" to relate to "you", or in other words, through your writing, we realize that we're all in the same boat, wrestling with the same issues and struggles and doubts. We're all human, and we're all the richer for realizing that.

    So, thank you for your blog and thank you for sharing. It's often not easy, I know, but your writings are entertaining and thought provoking, and most of all, it's appreciated.


    PS- And yes, I debated with myself for several minutes whether to post this comment or not, before I finally clicked that "Publish Your Comment" button... why is something so small so scary sometimes?

  9. really the easy answer is to say 'fuck what people think' but its far more complicated than that.

    maybe telling a little of my story will shed some light on what i see, so bear with me..i have a point somewhere.

    i'm an artist..apparently one of the eccentric types or as you would say 'kinda nuts' and really while i live a bit like how you see it you don't see the crazy internal struggle we go through..which is fine really..not criticising you on that. the point is there is a degree where we worry about the same things you do. its just over shadowed with our own madness and self doubt. our sometimes hatred of what we do. well i can't speak for everyone. mostly its my fears.

    i used to work various jobs..heavy labor. injuring myself and doing what was expected of me. i did alot for peoples approval and i watched others get the great jobs and relationships and everything i aspired for. in the end it just didn't seem worthwhile being passed over and thrown aside.

    a few years ago i started writing and drawing my own of many different things i do. it was a fools leap..the proverbial shot in the dark. it was death for me. my life before just died..i lost everything. all i had was my art. i still sought out love in many ways and it just never came. it was like transitioning into the artist shut me off even further from the world. so it has a downside. over time i did stop caring for most of the need to fit in. i never did fit in. i stopped the ass kissing and gladhanding and did my own thing. but inside there still resides a fear of dying alone unsung. while i may be one of the more colorful citizens of this town wanting to be loved. in my mind it kind of became quite defeatist. it really did me no good to be like that.

    to be completely honest i'm jealous of you. yes i said it. while i disagree with some of what you do and have my own viewpoint that is sure to conflict, deep down i'm jealous. you actually get gigs..people actually like you. on my best day people panic and shuffle their children away from the 'scary man' like i do it on purpose. hell when it was announced you were doing Cloak and Dagger i was so mad as i had worked for a while on a pitch..but in reality i barely have a foothold anywhere to even get in the door. i'm happy for you and still very jealous. i've been trying to break in for years and it just seemed to come kind of easy for you. thats just my perception..not to discount any struggle you went through. i just saw in you how i wanted to live..i mean you have friends..a actually broke into the comics've achieved more than i have in places i wanted to. so while you get envious of us weirdo artist types you really have to think that a good deal of us look at you the same way. even though it looks like we don't. we want ultimately to be loved.

    i have a small story of the past few months..really i'm giving you a good chunk of what i go through so maybe you wouldn't feel so bad about us odd types.

    i met this girl..she was stunningly beautiful. the kind of eyes that rip ones soul out. we dated in the tail end of last year. she knew i was a poor guy but i managed. working on comics and all that. i didn't tell her of the severity of my situation. like for the first date..i sold my car just to have enough to take her out. by christmas there were these people who decided their lives were not exciting enough who started doing everything they could to destroy what i built. i at that point had a good fanbase for my work and these people supported my crazy endeavors. these people went around talking all kinds of shit..attacking people who talk to me saying i'm some kind of scam piece of shit. really everything you could think of..hell they even called me racist because i had no black characters in my gallery. turns out one of the people was my nephew..who i refused to do a book with until he finished school. it was stupid. anyways..the girl saw alot of this and thought i was some big horrible guy. she saw the raw struggle of what i'm doing and the bullshit from others it entails..and she wanted out..she called me a loser and that no one would ever support a nothing piece of shit like myself. not even checking to see if shit they were saying was true even. i mean its not like i hide anything..everything i say and do is very public. she found out about the selling of the car and all that shit too. and it was like i had no value as a human being. broken and dehumanized and left bleeding. the people who were messing around gave up and i fought it all off..letting truth speak for itself. i mean it went so far as to delve into my high school years and my small idiotic criminal record (i was in jail for vandalism i didn't actually do...i stupidly took the plea deal after my lawyer fumbled some evidence and generally fucked up. it was a few weeks in jail..if i had fought it out i could have gotten a year if not handled right...i could have won it having aa rock solid alibi..but's complicated and stupid.)

    in the end i lost the girl i would have done anything for..i lost some friends..and i was in the middle of making a graphic novel..i would wake up screaming some nights...suicide was an viable option. i went to a really dark dark place.

    so i started reading more of your blog..jealous of your trials and tribulations. it also gave me a small bit of the will to keep fighting. i have like nothing left in my life. i'm filled with a sad darkness..i don't know how to go about and make friends or do anything you are capable of. i'm a good man...many have said so. i just have this effect where some really like me despite my oddness and those who hate me enough to take time out of their lives to hammer everyone who talks to me into not dealing with me. i generate a weird hate from people and its not like i go out for it. i am just not like most people..i'm the weirdo artist. i'm not someone who would typicly do comics even within your community i'm an odd duck. i don't feel welcome anywhere with anyone. and i really can't figure out why. i see you and your people and i really want to be a part of it..i want to live and feel the sun on my skin. but i know deep inside that i'm probably too weird for your people.

    all my life has been is a search for a place to be happy. to be loved. to have friends. to have what others get so easily. not to live in a darkend room i know many an artist who feels the same way..i'm not talking comic people..i'm talking the really odd eccentric art types..everyone has a desire to be loved.

    the point is you have to do what you feel is you. and not care what the normals think. people will love you for you. not your hair style or any of that shit. i mean i stopped caring about the superficial parts of life and it freed me of caused other problems sure..but in my art it set me free..i live how i can..not how i want to. if i lived how i wanted to i would have a gig that pays and a nice woman at my side who understands and appreciates the struggle..seeing mystrength of will.some dark spirit doing something pure.

    while we don't see eye to eye on everything i see you have value and your hearts in the right place. but me and my types are nothing to be jealous of. most of the myth of artists is that we live how we want or not care what people think..a great deal of it is an act. that too cool for you attitude is just a mask for really insecure people. i don't wear such a mask..which may be part of my problem too. i'm just saying that for every one you see that brings up feelings of jealosy or discontent with what you want to do..just think that some of them are staring back wishing they were you.

  10. Hi,
    I've been gathering strenght (and vocabulary) to write something to You for a very long time and every time I thought what to write it just seemed pointless. And now I read this post where I definitely can identify with what youre feeling. I've been writting a blog since January. It's mostly about my coping with my illness but I do write about some comics and stuff. Right now I'm in such a good shape (I'm in official full remission for a month now) that I don't know what to write. The most paralyzing thing is the fact that I feel responsible because I know that there are people waiting for another post, but I just can't deliver. Why? Because I came back to life and in my humble opinion everyday common life is an intimate issue. We struggle with ourselves, with our loved ones and with obstacles that we often wish to stay secret to the world. Reading your post about Your need to be liked (doesn't everyone on this planet?)and how You started writting, I felt I could identify (like in both cases an event or an issue important enough that You felt was worth sharing with the world)but i thought about something else: If You my blog superheroine (Yours is actually the only blog I read) has some trouble gathering thoughts, than I should not be ashamed. I just read all of the above and it doesn't make sense and reeks with insanity. read it and quickly forget it.

  11. Val, go put the The Stone Roses "I Want to be Adored" on (or download it) or watch the video.

    It will make you feel better dancing in the warm apartment of yours!

    Ok it might make you feel worse ;) the dancing I mean, not the song.

    Remember "you don't have to sell your soul he's already in you"!


  12. I completely empathize and sympathize. I'm sure most of us can relate.

    Your blog is great, thanks for letting us into your mind.

  13. Apologies in advance for the platitudes.

    When I see artists, or even regular folk, dress and write and paint and act the way they completely want to -- I'm jealous. Sometimes I also think they're nuts. But overlapping that is jealousy.

    Perhaps what you are seeing in these people is just another facade--one they feel they must use to get attention and the success that comes with it. Who knows how those people act when they're coming home at the end of the day?

    Identity is complicated, isn't it? Our Lord and Master Grant Morrison says that obsessing over "the self" can only lead to neuroses. Amid all of his nonsense, there is probably some truth.

    I mean, "Goodbye To Comics" was easy. I had absolutely nothing. The only thing they had to take away from me was nothing.

    It's a wonderful and terrible thing to have something to lose. (Did you ever finish reading Osamu Tezuka's Buddha?)

    The person I was yesterday no longer exists. I may remember that person or be influenced by that person, but that person is not me. What remains is the person who is--and the person who will be.

    Anyway, that was just about everything about Eastern philosophy that I could glean from comics. Sorry for getting all rambly.

  14. Well, somebody's gotta be Val, and I think you're the best candidate.


  15. Sweetie, life is too short to worry about what other people think.

    And hair grows out.

  16. It seems to me you're at an uncomfortable place in your career. You have many things to say and you have the thin edge of a wedge into the commercial arena.

    The good news is that the folks in the commercial arena are not trying to "ruin your work," they're trying to turn you "professional," which to them is a good thing, trying to get you to take your art and your own experience into something they feel has a chance of making you (and them) some money. To make it as a professional, you need to learn to distance yourself from your work, see it from "their" perspective, as a marketable commodity, something you might be unwilling to do. The "pure" road, without compromise, may be longer and harder, but the creative rewards at the end may be more fulfilling.

  17. As an artist, I too am insecure about my work because I'm afraid of what people will think of me. And I'm completely envious when I see someone else with the chutzpah to do his or her own thing without regard to public opinion.

    Here's a specific example: I rarely draw women, yet alone good-girl art, cheesecake, &c. Why? I'm afraid that I'll be labeled a pervert, misogynist, and/or chauvinist. Yet, my sketchbooks are filled with classically American, steroidally muscular, testicle-less homoerotic super heroes, and I'm NOT worried that people will label me gay or sexually ambivalent.

    So, what's going on? Why the discrepancy--the hypersensitivity on one hand, the obliviousness on the other? Where's my personal integrity in this mess?

    Well, it's buried. When I was younger, if my parents had found a sketchbook filled with pictures of half-naked women, they would have made my life more of a living hell. So, avoiding disapproval was a good survival tool. But then I grew up and started dating. Would you be surprised by how many insecure and angry women there are out there? About how intolerant they can be to anything that even faintly smells like sexism? Being sensitive (or should I say "insecure"?), I continued to avoid the subject, this time to win favor.

    And now that I'm married and have a daughter, my Wife, upon seeing my timid and awkward efforts at drawing comic book women, says, "How will you explain that kind of sexist garbage to your daughter? Would you be comfortable if that were an image she chose to emulate?"

    And, thus, I've trapped myself. In not honoring my integrity and by acting out of character in order to manipulate others' perceptions of who-I-am, I face periods of creative paralysis; I won't let myself do what something inside me yearns to do because I'm afraid of the consequences: rejection, abandonment, &c.

    How have I begun to dig myself out of the hole? Well ... I started by separating the two components of Art: the process of making art and the final product.

    When making art, I go into my Zone. Perceptions of Time and hunger and everything go out the window. In those moments, I'm truly present and alive and an artist. Nobody can take that away, and I'll be damned if I'll give it away. More important that anything I produce is the ability to produce. That's what defines me.

    So, what about the final product? Does the art that you make define you for all time? Maybe I'm just rationalizing, but the final product of any artistic effort is, at best, a snapshot of where you were at a particular moment. When you look at a photo of yourself from 10 years ago, what does it say about you right now? Nothing. Neither does any artistic product.

    Sure, maybe your art reveals something you were thinking about or how you felt, but anybody who claims that it defines you is a friggin' idiot who you are duty-bound to ignore. Because people may want it to define you, but that speaks to what they're thinking about or feeling, not you.

    Of course, since we've created something, we care about it and want to protect it, but don't let your attachment dislodge your perspective. Remember the Navajo rug weavers; they break a thread when the rug is done to allow their soul to escape the work and return to them, that they might create again another day. They "sacrifice" the product to preserve the process. In this case, know that a vampire porno won't change your novel into something else, any more than my future grandchildren will change my daughter into someone else.

    And that's what helps me find the way as I travel along the Road to Me. It's not a smooth road, and I realize that the hazards along it are of my own making, but in the end, it's the only road worth walking.

  18. Throwing my two pennorth into the mix here.
    You've gotta be happy with who you are, you can't live your life according to what you think other people want, that way leads to unhappiness and misery. You can still be liked andloved even if people don't agree with everything you do or write. :)

    And on the least important note, I shall follow Mordicai's example and say that short hair doesn't neccessarily make you look less feminine, get a good hairdresser and I bet you'd look really cute:)

  19. The only way you will know if that stuff will happen or not is if you send the manuscripts off.

    Say, "Be free, little birds, be fre-e-e-eee-e-eee..." and drop them in the mailbox.

  20. Anonymous10:27 AM

    Okay. Here are my long-winded allegories:

    Dad, but Not Grad

    Who are you?