You've probably discovered that my Blarg serves two purposes.
The first one is the optimistic supposition that I have wisdom to dispense, and as such want to dispense it. Reader discretion is always encouraged in such situations- My half-decade of making a webcomic and 25 years alive are very different from your own time spans and experiences.
Secondly, though perhaps more frequently, I have to collect my thoughts in such a way as to be able to present them. I am a sometimes psychologically and spiritually tumultuous person prone to and requiring frequent self-reflection, and the public presentation sometimes helps to better defend my own conclusions about myself, my life situation, and even my beliefs.
I'm also the kind of person who is equally prone to creating stupid pictures (such as the one above) as he is to introspection, but that may be a fun topic for another time. You never know with a Blarg.
This post is a bit of both. It is something I have found recently that I am not doing enough of and am just the same finding an extensive lack of in others-
Not enough authors are willing to ask their audience to trust them.
This spans the gamut of creators, from the high-profile million-dollar creations of Hollywood to the doodler who just got his first graphics tablet, and manifests in so many different ways that it is positively devious.
You get extensive exposition dumps that overstay their welcome showing this: How many times has an author accidentally stripped away the mystery and majesty of one of their world's systems by giving you mathematical formulas or careful categorization?
Entire plot lines can show this: Vampires, werewolves, zombies, orcs and elves have been done almost to death (or re-death, depending on your subject matter), yet because of their practicality as a concept from which you can build something, there are so few authors really trying to take a dive because they're scared their audience will not join them in the pool.
“Hate is bad, guys”.
“You can do it!”
Low level concepts which for all the good they are also represent a lack of courage to present anything deeper than a puddle lest they have their audience fail to get it.
You do see this stuff! All the time!
But the most egregious thing is that we explainers, we re-runners, we “no duh-ers” all claim that we're trying to innovate our market not just to pave the way for the next big thing, but to BE the next big thing.
And from my experience, this stems from a fervent desire to be approved of by as big a swathe of people as you possibly can.
Thinking about my actions online recently, I've taken to puffing myself up to be bold where it suits me to combat someone who doesn't like my little community, and I've taken to appearing soft and approving where I think it will get me a “good boy” or two. I've shared memes like crazy to play “the game” and then I've cleaned out my social media accounts to appear professional. I've apologized, I've retracted, I've found hills to die on and walked off of them, and I've done so many things in a desperate bid for views, likes, whatever.
There hasn't been a single more important thing in my life than to be approved of, or barring that, unknown to whatever disapproving community I have contact with.
And this kind of attitude, this idol we have as creative approval seekers, is killing both us and our craft slowly.
I don't know about you, but I haven't been created with the charisma necessary to both seek wide approval and have obtained it honestly. Not only has the attempt hurt me plenty over the years, and not only have I failed even to do the “honestly” part of this lofty, impossible goal, I can't help but think of how many good ideas were stifled because I doubted my audience would stick with me... And I can't help but realize how much better things have gone when I could free myself from the constant, grating need to have my works be universally liked.
VHV's first arc with the library and the faeries would have never happened if I had at the moment of it's inception cared about adhering exactly to the expected rules of narrative. Conventional wisdom says there should have been an inciting event to a grand quest in which Butter saves the empire, or the universe- But now she “only” has to save her friends and her colony, and it seems far harder a task than any one Chosen One has had to face- And I wouldn't change a thing.
Some of my favorite characters wouldn't have happened if I had decided they needed more “normal” attributes and would not have pouches or huge fluffy tails or furry insides.
Heck, to some extent I started the whole “furry thing” because I trusted my audience would stick by me after I had chosen to leave the old Brony fandom (Boy is that a blast from the past for some of you).
And indeed in my finest moments I've only sought the approval of the most high God and it has rewarded me far more than all the praise of each and every one of you who reads this, awesome bunch though you are.
But how much healthier would I be if instead of explaining “here's why you should like my stuff”, I just took you along for the ride and only asked you to trust me? How much healthier would we all be?
In so many ways, it's the easier thing to do. You do not nearly so often have to wear the marketing expert's hat and check whether your numbers are going up or down. It frees you to take your childlike impulses for your narrative and run with them and their every implication. Crazy ideas have so often never quite been done, and asking your audience to trust you helps you realize your ideas are not as crazy as you thought.
But the security of explaining to your audience why they should like what you make, or even to do things you know are already liked, makes asking them to trust you so much harder in more ways. If it has never been done, you don't know if you're doing it right until it's too late to change things. Asking people to trust you can lead to you betraying a portion of your audience's trust. Are people really that enthused about certain members of my cast, or would they like to see less of them? And it's just the easier bet to make more of a thing that your audience is clamoring for.
I'll end with this.
There's a saying my dad tells me whenever I lose hope in my pursuits- A saying he got from his own father who was a hardworking man in a poor household out in the country who had to feed a large family. I only ever really got to know one of them, but my dad is the most intelligent, wisest and strongest man I know.
He tells me this.
“Nothing worth doing is easy.”
I feel every day it is my higher calling to trust in God that I can trust myself and to make this comic happen.
It sounds silly at times, for sure- It's a furry comic! Why on earth would God want anything to do with that?
It's never been easy- I feel like I've faced insurmountable odds and have had very little support- Only what few who follow this thing and my closest family!
And asking you to trust me when I don't know if I can even trust myself? If I were to commit to that, well, the hard part has just begun now that I've thrown myself to the whims of my imagination and have started a war with all the little doubts and temptations to do things different.
But I have to learn to trust myself, and I have to tell you to trust me.
So yer just gonna have ta trust me.