lookwhatimadeforbreakfast said: do you consider yourself a "success" now? if not, at what point would you consider yourself "successful?"
I was out with friends shortly after selling the book based on its proposal, and one friend who’s written a few books congratulated me. I crossed my fingers and said, “We’ll see, we’ll see, I still have to finish writing the actual book.”
He shouted, “No. Uncross your fingers. If you’re crossing your fingers now, you’ll be crossing them when you give your editor your first draft, and you’ll be crossing them when the book comes out, and you’ll be crossing them as you wait for your first review. If you don’t uncross them now, you never will.”
I was out with some other friends recently and a few people were feeling like their creative lives weren’t where they wished they’d be, even though they were all creating fantastic work.
I said, “What would yourself five years ago think if they could see what you were doing right now?” Most of us agreed that our younger selves would think we’d “made it.” But it didn’t feel that way anymore because we’d all raised the bar higher for ourselves.
So, I’d say:
The only thing you can value is the work you put in every day, not any of the results. If I sit and get work done instead of BSing online, it is a successful day.
4me4real4good said: Do you have any favourite 20 something characters, or films or books about 20 somethings ?
For a brief period in my early twenties, I decided to only read books by men in their twenties about men in their twenties, which is probably something only a man in his twenties would think is a good idea. As it turns out, reading about young men fascinated by their own angst did not help relieve mine. Though it did make me consider writing a memoir.
I don’t think I found a book I truly, completely loved, for years. I had Salinger’s Raise High the Roofbeam, Carpenters, which I returned to many times, but I was still searching.
Some recent favorite books of mine that also happen to be about people in their twenties are:
Wild, by Cheryl Strayed
Just Kids, Patti Smith
Taipei, Tao Lin
And two movies:
But I don’t know if anything from this list would have really been what I would have needed them to be.
For Christmas when I was in my early twenties, I asked my family members to give me their favorite books or movies. And this might be your best bet. Ask people you love for the book they most love. Even if it’s not something you imagine you’d be interested in, or maybe especially if it’s not, make it yours.
As for my own answer to that question, the unfortunate truth at the moment is that I don’t have a favorite book. I’m still looking. But I did hide two books I love in the background of illustrations in Alice in Tumblr-land: Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, and John Porcellino’s King Cat Comics. And I think I may have subconsciously been giving recommendations to my younger self. Or, maybe, to you. At the moment, I’m reading Hilton Als’ White Girls, and it is more than I know how to say.
The weird thing about my tumblr and book is that, while they’re about people in their twenties, I couldn’t write these fairy tales the way I do if I were still in my early twenties. The art and writing I did then was far bloodier, more emotional, for better or worse. I’m still addressing many of the same feelings, but I’m doing it in a way that’s a little more palatable.
If you think those older projects might be of some use to you, several are still online: I did an art project when I was 22 called "i need you to know how much i love you" where I wrote a note on my hand to someone in my life every night before bed, and when I was 23 I did one called "100 reasons to be happy" where I made cards of reasons to be happy, and I wrote autobiographical comics called "stories i wish i could tell you" when I was 25. (I’m 28 now).
I know this answer is exceptionally long, but I’m trying to imagine the things that I would be interested in hearing about if I’d asked this question. And this is those things.
ghirahims-left-shoe said: Is it hard finding a publisher? Is there any particular way to do that?
A couple folks have written in asking for advice on how to be published. I can only speak from my own experience, which is very limited.
For me, it happened because of this tumblr (not to get too cheesy, but because of you guys). The short of it—and there are many more details in this interview—is that because the tumblr gained a following online, I was able to sell a book to a publisher. What would have happened if I hadn’t had the tumblr and I’d approached an agent with a collection of illustrated fairy tales set in the modern day? I have no idea.
Many books being published now began with a following online. In some cases, this is how agents or publishers find writers. It is how my agent found me.
In my eyes, a publisher is drawn to a writer who already has a following because it feels somewhat proven. If X number of people already like this writer or project, you are more likely to believe that even more people will.
Still, I am completely certain that quality of work is the only thing that matters. There are a lot of people who have to fall in love with your book in order to make it a real book, and that won’t happen just because of a following online.
It is probably also relevant that, though this tumblr and book all happened very quickly, I’d been writing—in various forms—for many years. There were a lot of times when it looked like someone might want to publish a short story, or be interested in a book I was writing, and then it fell through. The trick is to still sit down at your desk the next day and keep writing. You don’t even have to believe in yourself or have hope for a positive outcome, necessarily. You just need to keep doing the work.