I've recently taken a long hard look at myself in what Elvis Costello so eloquently termed the "deep, dark, truthful mirror." My self-esteem remained intact, but I had to face the thing I most lacked, the will to follow through with the fruits of my creativity. In short, self-discipline.
I've been exercising my imagination muscle since I was knee-high to a cicada. I still have in my possession reams of drawings and crudely drawn comics that stand as a glowing testament to my early cartooning ambitions. In high school, I wrote and drew, with No. 2 pencil, dozens of issues of a lampoon called Weird in which I skewered teachers and students alike. I'll never forget witnessing dozens of students passing my creations around outside class in the courtyard. I watched as they read my words and convulsed in laughter, eagerly passing each issue around like rare collector's items.
My cartooning ambitions were permanently put on hold when I discovered I had a natural aptitude for music. After teaching myself the basics of piano, I started composing my own music. I never had any interest in performing cover songs. I wrote dozens of songs the year I first sat down at the piano, really bad songs I might add. To date, I have written or partially written hundreds of songs, constantly striving to unlock something new and pleasingly different. Unfortunately, I have only recorded a handful of songs over the years, and the end results have been less than satisfying.
Even this blog has suffered from my lack of discipline. I've watched my postings become less frequent, even as the audience has slowly grown over the years. My humor piece "Why Chicks Cry" caused quite a ripple on the web. It was mentioned in Time Magazine's online edition and I was approached by several publishers, but it all came to naught and the main reason is I have a lousy follow-through. I was asked to contact DC Comics to get legal clearance on the panels I used, and after one feeble failed attempt to reach their licensing division, I folded.
I'm brimming with short story ideas, novel ideas, original song ideas, all kinds of creative ideas. I have ideas out the ying yang! And it doesn't matter one bit. My creative heroes, the people I most try to emulate, have, or had while they were living, the tenacity to roll up their sleeves every morning and make their creative visions tangible. That gumption is my missing piece.
I have often allowed myself to believe that life has gotten in the way of my creative pursuits, never acknowledging the truth that life often gets in the way of everybody's pursuits. I have been disciplined and responsible in other areas of my life. So why can't I be disciplined with my creativity? Am I afraid of failure? Am I afraid of success? Am I afraid of criticism?
There's no time to wonder why or spend much time locked in regret. I am still relatively young, and there are mountains to conquer. Today, I make a public vow to channel my creative energies into real honest-to-goodness end products. For better or worse, I refuse to let my legacy of ideas die locked within my brain and soul. I am rolling up my sleeves and going to work!
Just you wait, 'Enry 'Iggins!