SPREY Log #025 – Advent

I have a new blog entry to make and what a blog entry this is.

So last time I told you about how I cut back on social media. I didn’t have any dramatic reasons. I didn’t expect a specific outcome and the last thing I want is to sound like one of those clickbaity videos or articles about how quitting social media changed my life. But it did change my life. It’s uncomfortable to admit that. I decided to make a big step years ago and struggled to live as an artist since then. But even with being on the right path, something always felt off. My life felt spent, not lived. And I couldn’t have expressed it to you like that and did not know any remedy. Less social media did not cure me, but it gave me more time and energy to focus on working instead of worrying.

I worked my behind off and finally learned how to code. I wouldn’t say I’m good at it yet, but it is enough to help my husband out as a second coder (mostly bugfixing) on Your Land. This brought a lot of movement and change into my life. It seems that I became so passionate about it and about Your Land, that I even became more sociable instead of less. I know more people online than before and my Twitch streams are not empty. Coding also gave me a new, completely different perspective on art and visual storytelling. First of all I had an identity crisis because I found something that was more fun to me than making art. Seriously. The joy of seeing a problem fixed ingame or a new thing given to the players to enjoy. That was a threat to my art unheard of before. I know how it is to fend off things to make room for art. But how and why do you fend something off that you love more? Should’t you let more love in your life instead of less? After the first shock of two weeks I started drawing again, though, in small scope still, but artist Styxcolor is not a memory of the past. Coder Styxcolor is more grounded though which might be one of the reasons to more happiness from doing it. This is such an interesting change in perspective. For the longest time I was desperate to invent and tell really big complex stories but unable to write even a short one, and I knew there was something wrong but never got behind it.

Suddenly I’m coming from the other end where you’re happy you can make anything work and don’t actually dream about big castles made of code (at least I don’t). And at the end of the day, if you do your job well, you have something in your hands you and other people can enjoy. Art shouldn’t be different.

Also, my media consumption has fallen through the floor. I appreciate every work of the arts there is more than ever now..but I just cannot consume so much of it anymore, at least not in a binge. I also cannot literally eat so much anymore. I want to have the time and bandwith in my head to really experience something and think about it. No more background youtube, not even background music sometimes, and there is no ban on it, I just choose to focus fully on the work ahead. I have no trouble sleeping at night and no trouble getting out of bed at all. I’m eager to get out of bed and get to work.

As you can imagine this is quite a confusing experience. What if all of this doesn’t actually take away from artist Styxcolor but adds to my qualities? Apparently videogames are a good outlet for creativity in general and storytelling, too. If that is my way of grounding myself, may it be so. Also, in hindsight, I might always have asked the question wrong. Should I become a such and such artist? Should I focus on gamedev instead? But what about my own stories? When the actual question is, what are finished creative works that I can actually do and repeat the process so it’s building up a body of work over time? I wasn’t very good at consistency and finishing in the past for various reasons. I wrote two ingame books in Your Land that are a proof of concept to me that I actually can write and finish stories and that even a piece of atomic scope can be worthwhile. This is a new frontier and I’m researching with the passion and eagerness you know from me. Nothing is lost, all is won, and I’m entering a new phase in my life and creations.

Oh, and this is brand new – I can finally admit that I can’t write SPREY or maybe possibly anything else. I will have to break my universe down and make very small wrrks out of it to get them out at all. And this doesn’t even sound like a downgrade, more like an upgrade! I want it done and out! And you can be sure there will be substance when there is no need for any filler. I’m not even afraid that I will have to cut some if not most things. If this is how I make it happen actually, how I become a functioning storyteller, then be it so! What if I needed all these years of struggling to arrive at this point where my mantra becomes „Smaller/condensed is better“/“Say it with less“ because I know from my own experience how it doesn’t work the other way around?

New arc for this blog

This is a special blog entry.
When you see bigger bumps or gaps on my blog, that can mean one of two things. Either I’m in a creative crisis and barely functional (this is absolutely normal for creatives, it’s a natural ebb and flood cycle), or working on something so big and captivating that it absolutely derailed me from writing. Sometimes both overlap.

I’m doing well lately. I’m keeping my head down and focussing on getting my day to day work done, almost unaffected by whatever else happens. I had an insight or two while drawing and in the breaks between, so today I will touch on the very foundations of this blog again.

I started this blog to document my art journey towards “making it”, leaving records behind of how exactly I did it, what worked, what didn’t work, and what pitfalls to avoid to save yourselves some time.
I have changed since starting the blog. I think when I started I was convinced most pros had some or the same secret they weren’t telling us, even when they were pretending to tell us their full success story of how they “made it”. There was always this very real gap between them, their ranks, and me and my fellow aspiring artist colleagues who still hadn’t yet joined those ranks. We could do whatever we wanted, follow all the steps, at the end of the day we wouldn’t get in. Now with more experience under my belt I’m seeing things differently.

“Making it” turns out to be a surprisingly personal thing. I set my goals, I decide what I’m doing to get there and – of course – I have to actually do these things. And whatever I share with you here on this blog is not and never was universal advice that would work for anyone for every “making it” goal. There is no universal “making it” advice, unless it is so vague that is loses it’s substance again. So the pros did not have one secret. It is more likely that most couldn’t tell you what “their” secret actually was if not a combination of hard work, luck and connections. And the ratio of these things is different for everyone again as are their personal unique circumstances.

So if I want to do you the best service I can I must focus on the personal in my personal journey for the future instead of looking out for the universal. Although I will confidently state I’m a painfully average person anytime, I recognize that the circumstances of my journey are unique – as are yours. We are all beautiful unique remixes of the spark that gives humanity art if this makes sense.

What follows is really hard to write for me, but it is necessary. You must know who is writing this blog, you must know how this person is looking at the world and what the “making it” goals are, so that you can assess how to interpret what I say and what you can use. I am an unworldly dreamer that seeks comfort. That is not a criticism, that is a type. But what keeps me going is that at the same time I’m a hard worker that doesn’t accept giving up or whatever else is identified as defeat. It actually makes perfect sense. That’s two worlds colliding in the same person all the time, creating a lot of creative energy from that friction. Whatever I am, I am not bored, I am always on the lookout to do things to make the pain stop. This can either be a powerful feedback spiral to relentlessly following the dream and working hard to make it come true – or it can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as eating for short-term comfort, literally to feel better. And just to reiterate, I am not the only person who is like this, this is a type, although from what I understand one that is rarer in the spotlight or expressing themselves as this.

Dreamers have to be careful with their goals. If it’s too unworldly, it might never come true, because it can’t be done. But what if you can still get it done? Then we end up with innovation which pushes what people thought was possible and is good for everyone.

I might have mentioned it before, but my dream is to tell a couple of stories. I have a list with exact names and summaries. And guess what, SPREY is one of them. I must realize them either as comics or as videogames(most likely RPG-ish) to keep things in a scope a single creator can manage. This dream never changed at it’s core. I love the craft(s) more than anything, so with some things I literally can’t be motivated with money. That is the dreamer’s curse and privilege. But I still must exist in this world, so money is still a thing. I have humbly and without much fanfare started to learn how to code. Whatever my creative ambitions are, I must live with certain realities. I embrace art commissions and freelance work though, of course, but I try to be as responsible as possible just in case there is another long drought that can happen at the beginning of any career. There’s zero drama in this, no bitterness. Others have done this before me.

Rereading this I can’t even tell you what is so special about my stories. I have never asked myself this question. It just is. I came into the world with it. Let’s uncover the qualities of my works together on the journey as I’m learning more about myself and my creations. I realized that I have to change. It is my nature to seek comfort, but I have to be an inverse version of myself if I want to succeed. Everyone struggles with something after all. And I will admit, I’m already curious how I will do it.

See you next blogpost!