The holiday season has it's many hassles. There's the traffic and the travel and the running around from one house to the next to spread "cheer." There's plenty of expenses, the presents, the plane tickets, the dinners, the booze. There's the disappointments. Maybe you didn't get what you asked for or maybe that perfect gift for someone turned out not to be so perfect. Maybe you're not spending the holidays with whom you had hoped. Perhaps your tolerance for Christmas Carols and Holiday Specials is no longer as high as it used to be. Yeah, this time of year isn't perfect.
But, for all its faults, there is a power to this time of year and I think I recognize it more and more. The trinty of holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas (or Hanukkah), and New Years really provide a necessary bookend for the past year and a launching pad into the next. Taking time to appreciate each of these holidays is good for the soul.
Thanksgiving comes first, logically, and is a great time to take reflection on the past year, take account of all that's good in your life, and say that most powerful of two word prayers: "Thank you." I said my thanks in an earlier blog post.
Countless books have been written on the true meaning of Christmas, and I don't intend to make any great contribution to those tomes here. For me, Christmas is about translating that Thanksgiving gratitude into gifts and other tokens of appreciation to those you love. Sometimes the gift is a present. Sometimes the gift is simply your presence.
And finally, the holidays end with New Year's, which when used properly, is a time to spring yourself forward with renewed purpose and direction. (It can be that, and include a night of binge drinking, champagne toasts, and bad decisions as well...I'm a realist.) While there's a lot of skepticism regarding New Year's resolutions, with many people giving them up before even trying, I think establishing goals at the start of the year is still a valuable exercise. Wiser men then I have observed that goals are simple dreams with a time frame put on them, and resolutions are merely steps of action that may lead you to those dreams.
That said, here are my creative and comic related resolutions for 2009.
- Give back 10%. I've realized that entertaining through story, art, and digital media is one of my purposes in life, one of the reasons I am here on this planet. I also recognize that whatever gifts I possess that allow me to do what I do creatively and do it well are true blessings. I am coming to believe strongly in the power of giving, and that the more you give, the more you receive. I'm blessed in this economy to have a full-time job that I enjoy. The fact that doing what I love (my creative projects) has started to generate a bit of income for me above and beyond my regular salary is phenomenal. While I certainly have bills to pay and debts to reduce, I want to honor the blessing of my creativity by pledging to give 10% of all proceeds generated by my creative works from now on to an appropriate charity or cause I believe in. I plan on sharing those causes with you in future pages of this blog.
- Don't cricize others and accept criticism with grace. I think I'm well on my way down this path. I've discovered (or rediscovered, as it were) that criticism of others gets you no where. Those receiving criticism inevitably get defensive and become resentful. I'm resolving to only provide encouragement, praise, and when necessary positive critique towards others. On the flip side, I'm also going to try to accept the criticism of others with grace. I have those tendencies of defensiveness and resentfullness when on the receiving end of tough criticism. But I am resolving to listen to the criticism of myself or my work, distill from it the key suggestions that I agree will better myself or my craft, and to thank the person for spending those precious minutes of life that he or she will never have back on me.
- Network, Network, Network. While talent is crucial for success in any creative industry, I am realizing just how important it is to network and make connections in the industry. In the past, I've been reluctant to approach people I might want to meet who could give me advice or help me out. I've spent the last few months reaching back out to friends I've lost touch with over the years or acquainances I'd like to get to know better. I'm resolving to continue that trend professionally, and extend my network of friends in the industry this year. I truly believe that most people in this world want to give help if asked, and I need to put that belief into practice.
- Read every day, Write every day, Draw every week. My decision to work with other artists on comic projects has been an eye-opening experience. I love doing this stuff. I love collaborating. Working with others has made me a stronger writer. The better the art they have provided, the better I wanted to be as a writer. It's a great positive relationship to have. So, I'm resolving to become a better writer this year. Writers write every day, and thus, so shall I. And they also read every day, and so shall I. I still have aspirations as an artist, and enjoy drawing, but at present I'm getting more results and enjoyment from writing. However, I am resolving to keep my pencils sharp, and will commit to blocking out at least some time each week to continue to develop my art.
Four creative resolutions. Perhaps I'll revisit these and add more in the months to come. If I can live up to these resolutions, however, I have no doubt 2009 will be a break out year for me.