Even though this will hopefully be an inspiring article about writing, making comics and making art, I’m going to have to start by talking about myself and about music for a while.
As usual, there’s (sort of) a good reason for this which I hope will become apparent later. But, if you’re not interested in reading about this, then I’d recommend that you skip to the last third of this article.
Anyway, a few months ago, I suddenly found myself listening to lots of music by Helloween (a power metal band that I used to listen to a lot between about the ages of sixteen and nineteen).
If you’ve never heard of power metal before, it’s kind of like a slightly lighter, faster, epic and (sometimes) humourous type of heavy metal that only really seems to be performed by bands from mainland Europe (who almost always sing in English for some reason).
In other words, power metal sounds a bit like this.
Apart from teenage nostalgia, one of the first thoughts I had after I’d been listening to Helloween for a while was “Seriously, when was the last time I listened to heavy metal as enthusiastically as I’ve just done?”
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve listened to more than my fair share of heavy metal music over the past few years but – especially recently – I’ve found myself listening to lots of other genres of music a lot more than I used to.
Whether it was becoming a Suzanne Vega fan sometime in 2009 or 2010, whether it was becoming much more of a Bad Religion fan earlier this year or whether it was my recent obsession with both Bob Dylan’s and Jimi Hendrix’s versions of “All Along The Watchtower”, I’d kind of moved away from heavy metal somewhat. Heavy metal had gone from “the best type of music ever” to “just another cool genre of music“.
And, well, this made me think about changing creative interests. When I was younger, I listened to a lot more heavy metal, I watched a lot more horror movies, I read a lot more horror novels (and I read a lot more novels in general) and I used to write a lot more fiction (especially horror fiction) than I do now. Seriously, the closest thing to horror fiction that I’ve written this year is probably this interactive story (called “Acolyte!”)
These days, I make a lot more art than I did a few years ago. I’m also a lot more interested in art than I used to be. These days, when I write comics or stories, I tend to tell funny stories rather than scary or disturbing ones – even “Acolyte!” was probably more comedy than horror. These days, I write a lot more non-fiction than I ever used to.
In other words, my creative interests have changed. For quite a while, I lamented the fact that my creative interests had become a lot less “cool” than they used to be. It felt as if I’d lost a part of who I was and, as a result, my current creative works weren’t as good as my old ones were.
But, at the same time, creative interests are called “creative interests” for a reason – they’re, quite literally, creative things that interest you. They’re things that fascinate you, they’re things that fill you with passion and they’re things that fire your imagination.
If something doesn’t quite fill you with the passion and interest that it used to, then it’s no longer one of your creative interests. Yes, you can still try to tell these kinds of stories or make these kinds of art, but they won’t really fill you with the same feeling of inspiration and passion as they used to. And, well, when it comes to creating things – you want to go for whatever it is that makes you feel as inspired and passionate as possible.
Yes, it might not be as “cool” as the things that used to interest you. But, if you want to keep feeling inspired and producing great things, then you have to follow your passions wherever they may lead you.
A great example of this is probably a writer called Clive Barker. Back in the 1980s, he wrote some absolutely amazing splatterpunk horror fiction. These were exquisitely-written horror stories that elevated blood, guts, sex and death to the level of art. Then he suddenly started writing fantasy novels instead.
By the early- mid 2000s, he was writing novels for teenagers and, you know what? They’re still amazing. He followed his passions and interests and kept producing amazing things as a result.
Another great example is a writer called Billy Martin who wrote under the pen name of Poppy Z. Brite. Back in the 1990s, he wrote a few wonderfully gothic horror novels, that are still some of the best novels that I’ve ever read.
Then, in the early-mid 2000s, he started writing dark comedy short stories and romantic comedy novels instead for a while. These are some of the best dark comedy and romance stories I’ve ever read. These days, he’s an artist instead of a writer. Whatever he does, he’s amazing at it – but he probably wouldn’t have been if he’d kept writing horror after he’d lost interest in the genre.
The fact is that you probably won’t be making the same creative things in five years’ time as you are making today. Hell, you might not even be making the same kinds of things a year from now. This is a good thing. Follow your inspiration.
Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂