It’s storytelling time.
I’ve been in and out of day jobs all my life. It’s never worked for me. I always either explode and quit or get fired. I usually feel bored, trapped, and dehumanized. It’s because I’ve always wanted to be my own boss, use my own mind. Not because I want to be superior to other people, but because I like solving problems. And I don’t like someone else stopping me from solving problems.
In 2007, after all the excitement over my How To Sell… record had faded, I ended up working at a real estate company in downtown Los Angeles. I hated my life and I needed out. I was angry all day long, wearing corporate clothing and working with a bunch of people that had no sense of humor. Two years before that, I had been living an artist’s existence. I had to somehow return to it. I started planning my escape, and writing a long list of “mantras” — things I needed to remember once I was free. Like self-brainwashing. I was going to remake myself.
In early 2008, I decided it was time. I had $2000 in the bank, and I quit. It was dangerous. Maybe stupid. The economy crashed. Within 2 months, I’d be completely broke again if I didn’t come up with a brilliant idea. In fact, I had spent 2006 – 2007 unemployed, so there was a good chance I’d be right back where I started.
Surviving in society has always been a struggle for me. It has felt almost like there’s a conspiracy to stop me from being who I am. It’s led me to long periods of anxiety, depression, and selling out. I’ve always felt like an outsider, unacceptable, unpopular. If I was going to get anywhere, I’d have to do it alone with nothing but do-or-die willpower. No one was going to invite me to work at their studio or be in their band. I just don’t use enough slang.
I’d have to somehow contribute to society. Make myself “valuable.”
As an Introvert, that’s not easy.
I decided that I would work from home, offering my “creative / technical skills” to everyone. I did a single free website, which led to a referral, which then led to dozens of referrals. It got out of control. I sold every talent I had to other people. Writing, web design, video editing, anything I could think of. If I didn’t have a skill, I learned it. Anything that I could do from home.
A lot of the time, I worked for free. I didn’t care. The free work was like advertising. Not intentional. I just decided that I would help anyone with anything, any time. (Unless they used corporate phrases like, “As per our conversation.” Then I told them to get lost.)
In the meantime, I kept writing my list of nutty philosophical mantras. The list got bigger. I found myself writing a lot of things that were counter-intuitive. Things that would be true, but would not seem true. Things that were backward, but would move me forward. It was confusing, but I kept going, in pursuit of my strange truth(s).
I decided I wanted to make a graphic novel. As a passion project. I was interested in fiction. Specifically, science fiction. Had no idea where to start. Bob DeRosa recommended I read Save The Cat! I bought the book, and liked the tone of it. The company that published it, MWP, had personality. Something about their catalog of books resonated with me. On a whim, I put together my creative mantras in a PDF and emailed it to them. I didn’t send it to any other publishers.
Within 24 hours, I heard back from them. They loved it. I had no agent. I had no pitch. I didn’t know anything about the publishing industry.
A lot of time went by — but as far as I know, there was very little debate. They asked me to expand on the concept and make it a real book. So I did. It was one of the easiest things I’ve done in my life. “Because it was supposed to be,” as Michael Wiese says.
And now, 2.5 years later, it’s published.
How? Simply put: I was a guy with some unpopular ideas, and the audacity to believe in them.
And that was that. And there it is.
If you wanna find out more, go to MWP and check it out. You can read the first 25 pages and decide if I’m crazy.