I’ve been writing since I was a kid. I would do whatever I could to get the paper I needed to feed into my grandmother’s typewriter – Nothing could stop me from capturing and sharing the dragons, superheroes, ninjas, and spies leaping out of my imagination.
I grew up on a block of geeks (before geeks were cool) so there was always a willing audience for my musings and even friends to play out my crazy adventures. As an adult, the writing never stopped, but the sharing slowed to a crawl. In the fast-forward of life, other pursuits took center stage.
Mainly, a demanding career. Like many of us, my day job is a means of paying the bills, so I’ve never really had that “follow your heart” gig. My career started with a get-in-where-you-fit-in approach and took off from there. Don’t get me wrong – my jobs weren’t torturous – just not what I’ve felt compelled to do. I tried to channel my creativity into my corporate projects, but in my profession, that expression could only go so far.
I knew that my creative self was fading, but I thought that was part of life. Part of growing up.
The concession was wrong and because painful.
I had stories to tell. Why couldn’t I tell them?
I had created a universe of characters. Why were they were trapped on my hard drive?
Until 2010 I subscribed to every excuse not to share my stories. Somewhere along the way, I became afraid to share that part of me. Maybe I was scared to fail at it, or perhaps I was worried about how I would be perceived… Whatever it was, it was real, it was oppressive, and it was frustrating.
“It’s not who I am underneath. But what I do that defines me”
– Batman –
Slowly, I was starting to understand that my rational mind wasn’t getting it done. I needed to let go and let my curiosity and imagination lead the way to something new.
My wife encouraged me forward. She really helped me accept that my creativity was part of my purpose. It was almost like she already knew that I needed to share these stories.
Okay, so I accepted that no one would do it for me.
But there was still the fear to deal with.
Overcoming the Fear
So what got me past my fears? What was the catalyst?
The 2010 New York Comic Con. Looking back, I can see that event as a significant transition period in my life.
As a lifelong comic fan from Queens, I could not have been happier when the New York Comic-Con opened its doors. Year after year, each and every time I arrived at the Javits Center for Comic-Con my eyes opened wide in wonder like a kid in a toy store. It really is an amazing fan experience.
In my past visits, I’d attend the Con focused on the big blue-chip publishing machines. But that year, I knew I had something to share and found myself instinctively drawn to the people sharing their passions.
I like to investigate before I initiate, so I found a panel of indie creators in the back of the convention guide, and to my surprise, the room was packed with people like me. People who were looking for the best way to tell their story. Learning editing from editors, writing from writers and insights on sequential art from artists… You get the picture.
Buddy Scalera ran a series back then for aspiring creators, and I ate it up. Front of the room, taking notes like a desperate college student. I spent at least a half a day in panels for all four days of the convention. I left empowered.
The rest of those days were spent meeting new people in the Small Press Indie area. Booth after booth of women and men of every color, creed, and lifestyle. People sharing everything – From Christian comics to horror. From writer/artists with a single black and white ashcan to indie publishers with half a dozen full-color books. I spent hours talking with dozens of brave creators, and it was beautiful. These creators didn’t need anyone’s permission, they had a story to tell, and they told it. I made a lot of new friends that day and left inspired.
“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”
– Toni Morrison –
Go and Get Busy
“If you want to conquer fear, don’t sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”
– Dale Carnegie –
A few days later my wife and I started forming a business (LLC), a few weeks later I finished my first script, and a few months later I kickstarted my first book. I did it, and it changed my life for the better.
In 2011, I attended the New York Comic Con with my first Pro Pass. That Pro Pass meant that I had to overcome the fear, overcome the distractions it amplified, and overcome everything inside of me that made dreaming seem silly. I don’t believe that everything you want is on the other side of fear, but I do believe that on the other side of fear is purpose. Our stories are a part of our mission in life and worth overcoming our fear for.
The ride hasn’t been perfect. I’d love to say, I’m fearless, but I’m not. But I have a ton of new friends, some awesome comics and most importantly I found a part of me that was almost lost. To me, that’s winning.
We need to accept our creativity as part of our purpose.
We need to share our stories because someone is waiting for them.
When we feel weak, it helps to have at least one person who believes in us. If you can’t find that person send me an email. I believe in you.
Today was the last day of New York Comic Con, and it’s inspired me again. I’ve set a new goal on this journey. In 2018, I’ll have a booth at NY Comic-Con, and I hope to see you there.
I’ll spend the next year sharing my road to NY Comic Con 2018, and I hope that my experiences will help someone tell their story.