... I can't help but think of all the people I know who've decided to make a personal project and then abandoned it after a while. It's a real shame, because there are so many talented people in animation, and I know the world would love seeing their work. But pursuing a personal project is, in many ways, much harder than showing up to work every day and getting paid to be an artist and contribute to a film that has the backing and support of a large company. ...
One of the reasons that I'm still plugging away on my own project after five years is that I choose to do something that I really enjoy doing. It gives me a chance to do things I've never done before (like try and understand how layout works for comic books, and the chance to work with color). ...
[A]s an artist creates something, I think it's only human for that artist to daydream about how big and successful their project will become. The problem is that, after that initial rush of passion for the project and daydream of how awesome and successful it's going to be, the hard reality sets in about how much work it's going to be as well as the sobering realization that it may not, in the end, be successful. In fact, it may fail miserably. So why bother putting a lot of work into it? In the end, it could all be wasted effort.
So one of my best pieces of advice is to create without focusing on the final outcome. You can't control how your project will be received, you can only control how it turns out and how much you enjoy the process of creating. ...
I know what Mark Kennedy is talking about here. Completely.
For years I had the dream of being a novelist. It was a passion. An obsession. And I wrote several, some of which had semi-arresting characters and moments, but none of which sold.
Occasionally a New York agent would agree to represent the work, and push this manuscript or that; once in a long while a publisher would get semi-interested. But in the end, each manuscript flamed out, didn't have that particular something that would catapult it to the next level, and was tossed into the dusty trunk labeled Rejects.
So ... ultimately ... I looked cold reality square in its ugly face and gave up. Fiction was a hard nut to crack, and I wasn't cracking it.
But I still had a yen to write. And to scratch that ongoing itch I turned to a memory exercise, composing chapters about my ten years at Disney Feature Animation, writing about the personalities, the politics, and the creative frustrations. I wrote the chapters (nineteen in all) at odd moments, and planned to do nothing with the results except put them up on a blog where, if I was lucky, a couple hundred people would read them. Maybe.
And funny thing. I put a handful up, Cartoon Brew asked to feature chapters on its site, then a publisher wanted to put the whole aggregation out as a book. (I'm still amazed.)
Mr. Kennedy is dead on. You can't control how your work will be received. You can only satisfy your creative urges by putting in time and sweat and then watching where the novel or comic book or painting ends up. If the fates smile on you, perhaps you'll gain a career.
So follow your muse.