WARNING: This blog will likely make you respond with “Well, boo-friggin’-hoo!”
I know I should be working, but I’m not. Instead, I’m sitting here, writing this blog, and thinking about all of the things I need to be doing.
My brilliant producer Jaz “The Hookmaster” Williams thinks it must by my moon sign and sun sign running amok together. I was born August 16th, 1979, which makes my sun a Leo and my moon a Gemini. Evidently that makes me very creative, concerned about my reputation, and divided in mind over what I should do. Could be that.
Could also be the context by which I currently live my life. I’ve started my own business, which has yet to yield a profit and consumes every dime I have, and I am paying my basic costs of living with unemployment checks that could stop on a dime. Literally. Perhaps my dividing of time between Chalkskin, “The Sheepdog Show,” my novel, etc. is my way of trying to find something that will actually make Wolf In Wool Productions a successful company that can start to pay my bills. Could be that.
Or maybe it’s my state of mind. You see, despite spending many hours in family counseling as a child, I’ve never gone to see a mental health professional as an adult. Perhaps this is because of the hours I spent with them as a kid, losing faith in a science that is about as effective as chiropractic care. Sure, they crack your back and make you feel nice for a couple of hours, but you’ll be back next week with the same spine. And if I had health insurance that covered all the expenses of seeing a doctor, I’d be in the back-cracker’s and head-shrinker’s office as much as possible. Could be that.
What I’m doing instead of working.
I’ve never been diagnosed with depression or bi-polar disorder or seasonal affective disorder or chronic fatigue syndrome or anything like that, but I can tell you one thing. Whatever it is, it runs in the family. My mother has suffered with it, and both of my siblings have the same thing. It’s not enough of a crutch to complain about. Lots of people have it way worse than I do. I’ve never had dark thoughts of suicide or anything like that, but I do find it very, very difficult sometimes to push away an urge to feel sorry for myself for no good reason, to get motivated to do things that I know are good for me, or to push away bad habits that just make me feel worse about myself. There are days where I wake up, seek out some temporary solace, spiral into a funk, get grouchy with those I love, curl up into a metaphorical ball, put up walls, binge on food or television or the internet or pornography, genuinely hate myself, wonder why I exist in the first place, struggle with my faith, and just watch the clock tick away yet another percentage of my life.
I’ve had girlfriends who claim I’m displaying symptoms of PMS. Yeah, could be that too, I guess.
The fact is that God has given me gifts. I can write, act, draw, rap, and tell stories. That’s what I really want in my life. That’s what makes me happy, fulfills me, strengthens my faith, my resolve, motivates me, and helps me love myself. And that’s what I value more than any other thing in this world. It’s the life I want.
But that’s part of the problem too, I suppose. I’m not doing it, and I really don’t know how to do it.
Sure, I’ve made two feature length films, a bunch of shorts, a couple of web series, some plays, some comics, and two full length albums. I have done it, right? But I can hardly say that I have found the proper balance in my life. I sold my youth to Kent State University and Game Stop, Incorporated. I got a scrap of paper and everlasting debt. I got money to invest and a twisted spine. That paper has been devalued by a sinking economy and a job history I could have obtained had I never earned that paper in the first place. I have no job, children, house, or security. I don’t even have a way to sink more money into my starving enterprises.
If I’m living the dream, I’m lying to myself.
Like this lady.
My mother asked me the other day how long I would do all of this.
“What do you mean?” I replied.
“How long,” she clarified, “will you keep rapping and doing all of this stuff?”
“I can’t answer that. I don’t know when I’ll die.” And I meant it. I know that “storyteller” is not just something I call myself and hope will come true for me someday. It’s who I am. It was woven into my fibers long ago and will be a part of me until my last breath. I won’t give up, because I can’t give up. Whether I ever get to the point where I can earn my security through my stories or I drive myself deeper and deeper into the mire, I can’t change who I am.
Diagram of my “woven fibers.”
One thing that has become more and more apparent as well is that I can’t do this alone. I need some help.
“I didn’t work this hard on that album for nothing,” Jaz told me, encouraging me to find better ways to do our publicity. And he’s right. We’ve got a knockout album that’s not in the fight. If we could get it in the arena, it could really tear it up. But I don’t know how to get it in the ring. I really don’t know what to do to take things to the next level, and I don’t feel like I have a lot of support in taking it there.
I’ve already tapped every single person I’ve ever met. I’ve asked them to be customers, to be reviewers, to be the word of mouth advertisers we so desperately need. Many have come to that call, and I appreciate all of them. But sadly, it’s not enough. I feel like what we can do on our own has peeked, and I’m groping in the dark for the next strategy.
How do you go viral on youtube? How do you get followers on twitter? How do you get people to listen to your music? Watch your film? Buy your merch? And how do you do all of that without feeling like you’re just going back to the same well and trying to show your friends and family that what you do has real, honest-to-goodness value? I know that what I do isn’t for everyone, and I feel truly blessed that the people closest to me show support even when they don’t particularly like the product. I get all of that. But I do feel like there are people that will eat this stuff up if they only knew that we were serving it up over here. How do you get people you will never meet to sample your cooking?
I know it’s easier than it’s ever been with the technology that we have, but I still don’t find it to be very easy.
And maybe it’s all of that – the enormous responsibilities, the feeling – right or wrong – that I’m fighting an impossible battle alone, that each milestone feels like yet another failure – that it sometimes makes it hard for me to get out of bed ready to give my all again. That I can work for years on something, invest every cent, lose sleep, pour my heart and soul into it, and push the boulder up hill to the goal line. . . Only to sell a hundred copies of it and watch it run out of steam.
Could be that.
“Leave Sheepdog alone! He’s feeling sorry for himself!!”
I know this blog is dark, rambling, and not inspiring in the least. I just had to get it all out. And maybe someone with a good grasp for psychology will read it and offer their professional opinion. I don’t have health insurance, you know. This could be a boon for me!
Or maybe someone will read this that feels the same way sometimes, and they won’t feel like their struggling alone.
Or maybe, just maybe somebody who believes in the dream as much as I do will read this and will lend a needed hand.