Speaking as a 40-something without kids, this isn’t what Christmas looks like, Matthew Inman from The Oatmeal! It’s actually what we at The Fleenplex call “Wednesdays”.
- Ryan Estrada is the latest [web]cartooner to shake up the viral internets (as he is wont to do from time to time) with a posting on Art and Creativity and How To Get Better At Them Both, which comes down to a simple premise:
You need to screw up.
Make mistakes, lots of them, because every one is an opportunity to learn. Challenge every bit of conventional wisdom that says something won’t work, and find a way to make it work — audiences, craft, money, everything needs to be torn down and reinvented¹. It’s a terrific read, a terrific screed (in the best sense of the word), but it strikes me that a certain subset of readers may be paying too much attention to the part that says Don’t pay attention to how they tell you to do things and not enough to the immediate followups that say … because everything they say you can’t do is a chance for you to be the first to discover a new way of doing things.
Too many people (and I’m not even talking about creative types here; it’s a common situation in my day job, which is in IT) approach things that they find challenging with the assumption There’s a magic bullet, a formula, a secret handshake that will magically make things better; spending all this time working out the fundamentals is for suckers, I just need to get somebody that knows the secret handshake to share it with me, then all my troubles will go away and life will be awesome.
If you’ve ever thought that way, understand that Estrada is not saying that ignoring the walls in front of you is a complete strategy; he’s saying that those fundamentals that get derided are the starting point, and the skills they engender are what will permit you to find your way around the conventional wisdom. Pay particular attention to his last paragraph:
There’s no money in ANYTHING until someone puts something great on it. When someone tells you you’re doing it wrong, that’s your clue that you’re doing something that could change all of the rules, and a few decades from now, your style will be the one someone’s drilling into a beginner’s head, and that beginner will be coming to you for advice. Feel free to tell them what you did right, but be sure to also tell them: Do it wrong. [boldface original]
The important words in that conclusion are “no money”, and “a few decades from now”. You can’t break the rules and expect the world to reward you tomorrow, and if (if!) you should succeed after the long, hard work, there will always be somebody breaking your new model. The fundamental lesson here is not to be a special snowflake that doesn’t have to do things the OLD WAY, OLD MAN … it’s that change is constant, and you can either ride and promote that change, or not.
Ironically, you may find yourself in a pretty comfortable career by resisting the change than by embracing it². Until, that is, that the change becomes inescapable and you’re so invested in the old ways that you can’t adapt³. The protection against that is to do things wrong until your way becomes right, then keep doing them wronger until you create even more right ways; your revolution starts by looking in the mirror.
- Some of you may have noticed a comment that showed in Tuesday’s post for a few hours that isn’t there anymore. The poster was reporting a link in our blogroll was leading to a porn site, which is naturally something that readers of this page shouldn’t expect to encounter (unless the link is for Oglaf, and Oglaf is less about porn and more about good old fashioned smut). However, a series of tests was unable to duplicate the poster’s situation — neither our link, nor the webcomic in question showed any signs of re- or mis-direction.
It’s possible the problem was in the poster’s own browser (I hate BHO exploits), or even a case of DNS serving up the wrong site. As a result, I felt it best to moderate the post because I didn’t want the webcomic in question to ever come up in a search in proximity to “porn site”, but since this page has a pretty strict “no deletions without a damn good reason” policy, I figured an explanation to the original poster was in order. That being done, the comment will be restored, with the name of the (as near as I can tell) innocent site redacted, in the interests of fairness to everyone.
- Wondermark calendrical marvels are back! True fact: this is the only calendar I buy for my own use each year.
¹ Or, as we used to say back in Nerd School, If it ain’t broke, break that sumbitch and build it again different.
² See also: every pedestrian, boring form of popular, safe entertainment ever.
³ See also: every print vs web comics debate ever, and the accelerating fade out of the newspaper comic strip.