I saw this getting shared around Facebook a couple of months ago, three of my friends all shared it on their pages the same day, and I always meant to write about it here. I had no idea whom this Andrew W.K. person is, and didn’t feel bothered enough to do any research, beyond checking his Facebook page. He appears to be some kind of musician and advice columnist, but skimming the page I noticed he uses the words “party” and “partying” a lot. It mostly looks like the typical mindless drivel that people like sharing on social media, so I can see why he’s so popular. Everyone was all “Yeah! Right on! You tell ’em, Andrew!” But my first reaction was hold up, I’d want to ask some follow-up questions of this woman who wrote to him, find a few more details about the situation before I gave her an answer.
But the problem is that I have a significant number of professional and amateur creative people on my Facebook friend-list. Writers, artists, actors, singers, rappers, filmmakers, etc., including the three people who shared this image (a comic-book artist, a tattoo artist, and a comic-book writer), so the default position for most of them is that any slight suggestion about giving up a dream is BLASPHEMY, and HOW DARE YOU (me) TRY TO KILL SOMEONE’S DREAMS! Blah blah blah, and so forth. It seemed like no one even bothered trying to understand my point, probably because they all had their own stories of people telling them to “give up” at some point but they didn’t, so they were just self-identifying with this unnamed wannabe rock star.
Well, first, let me point out that I’m no dream-killer. Check my Kickstarter page, I’ve backed over two dozen projects, some have made it and some haven’t, and that doesn’t count the folks I’ve backed on Indiegogo and GoFundMe or private donations. Not to mention the promotion I try to do here for folks that I know when they have projects out, like reviewing Stacy Clark’s albums or Geoffrey Thorne’s books and comics, or Drew Edwards’ Halloween Man comic-book series among many others. I’ll write reviews, share links across the internet, do what I can to help promote people. If I think you’ve got talent and see that you have the drive to accomplish things, then I will be in your corner, doing what I can to help you. Believe me.
However all I’m saying is that there could be times when someone’s dreams exceed their drive, or what is realistically possible. “Never give up on your dreams” is a nice feel-good slogan, but it doesn’t pay the bills. Going back to the above answer from Mr. W.K., it looks to me like he’s immediately jumping to conclusions about her intentions, assuming that she’s “controlling” and “sadistic” and wants him to have a “boring life,” but like I said, I’d want to know more about the situation. Notice how she phrases the question, she talks about his dreams of “rock stardom.” Not dreams of being a musician, mind you, but specifically a rock star. I find that significant. And she does make a point of saying it’s “admirable,” which suggests that she has been supportive of him. So now I’d want to know how old is he? How long as been trying at this? How much (if any) progress has he made? And most importantly, how long have she and him been together and what kind of plans have they made?
I mean are we talking about a couple of folks in their early 20’s here, and they’ve been casually dating a few months? In which I case I’d say his answer is spot on. But I can think of other hypothetical scenarios where I’d say she was right. Say this is some 38 year old man who skipped college and has been trying to be a rock star since he graduated High School, but hasn’t made any progress. He’s still playing in dive bars and has been in multiple different indie bands over the years, because the truth is that he’s just not that good, but in his head he’s already the second-coming of Axl Rose, and never wants to listen to anyone who tries to give him constructive criticism on how to improve. Is he just too lazy to really put in the work he needs to make it, always looking for some short-cut to success? There are a lot of people like that out there, they always talk about their big dreams of what they’re going to be “someday,” but don’t really do anything to make it happen.
And then I’d want to know what her involvement with him is. Are they living together, or perhaps talking about living together or getting married? He could be the one pushing for something more permanent, in which case she’s right to question how stable her life could be with him. Is she supposed to work and pay all the bills to support the two of them while he’s off playing at being a rock star? What about having kids (or they may already have some)? They need to be taken care of, which takes time and money. In a situation like that could you blame her for wanting more stability? Yeah, you could say he’s should just keep following his dream, but then what’s going to happen when he’s in his 50’s and has no job skills to fall back on? What’s he supposed to do then?
Again, I have no idea what the situation with those two people is like, which is my point, and the reason why I’d want to ask more questions before I give her any advice. And, y’know, it’s not always about “giving up” your dreams, but possibly amending them. Maybe he won’t make it as a rock star, that doesn’t mean he can’t make a living in music. Maybe he could be a music teacher, or work behind the scenes as a producer, or a session musician, or something else. And that applies to most other dreams people have as well, even if you don’t fulfill your big dream maybe you could consider other smaller dreams. And if you care someone I don’t think it necessarily makes you a bad person to bring that up to them.
Just my opinion.
I am a huge comic book fan. I think it is awesome when someone succeeds as a writer or artist and creates amazing work. At the same time, I am very cognisant that the comic book industry has a long history of screwing over talent, of dropping talented creators with years of experience at the drop of a hat to hire the hot newcomer who is generating buzz and is willing to work for a much lower salary.
There was a talented writer named Robert L. Washington III who died on June 7, 2012 after suffering multiple heart attacks. Despite having written a number of great comic books in the 1990s, including Static for Milestone, towards the end of his life he was working odd jobs and really struggling to make ends meet. Just a few short weeks before his death, being interviewed by Comic Book Resources, he offered this advice to people who dreamed of working in creative fields:
“Have a backup plan. That goes for everyone that wants to go into media. Being really talented isn’t enough. Do something that’ll bring you a regular income in any other industry, you can work your way back into media. The people I know in my situation have no fall-back plan or another set of skills. I can’t think of anything more important for young comics, musicians, actors. Until people realize how smart, brilliant and wonderful you are — don’t be too proud, get your backup plan.”
You can read more about him here… http://comicsbeat.com/robert-washingtons-words-from-the-grave-have-a-back-up-plan/
So, yes, in short I absolutely agree with what you have to say, J.R. It is important to follow your dreams. But it is equally important to have a Plan B just in case things do not work out the way you hope.
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And here are a few thoughts concerning Robert L. Washington III’s life and career that I wrote on my own blog at the time of his death… http://benjaminherman.wordpress.com/2012/06/23/robert-l-washington-iii-1964-2012/
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Dang, I knew who Robert L. Washington III was and remember when he died, I was a HUGE fan of Milestone, still have almost every comic-book they published (except for Cobalt and Xombi), but I didn’t know things had gotten that bad for him in the end of his career.
mmm, I’m not sure if (assuming the hypothetical girl tell the absolute truth) “Rock Stardom” is a valid dream. Because it sounds as a selfish goal to be a “star” and not anything more solid as to play rock because you feel that’s the way to express yourself, so you learn, you practice and you work. Personally I haven’t dreams, I do and I am what I want to do and to be.
I mean, stardom is a consequence to have done something, realizing a dream for example, very well or very bad.
PD: It’s like in Scary Movie “I have a dream!”, “Which is your dream?”, and George “To have a dream!” haha.
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I’d say it could be a valid dream, depending on how you go about it. But, yeah, if someone says their dream is “to be a rock star” as opposed to be saying their dream is “to make music,” then I may take that a bit of red flag, same as if someone says they want to be a “movie star” instead of saying they want to be a “actor.” It could imply that they have unrealistic expectations about what it takes to make it, and therefor aren’t serious.
Or I could be wrong. That’s what my main point was that if I were that Andrew person I’d want to ask some more questions about the situation before I can an answer, instead of just saying “he should follow his dream no matter what.”
[…] is a sequel to a post from last month: Giving Up On Your Dream? So click the link and read that first, if you haven’t already. Then come back […]