This Does Not Come Naturally

I wish I was “naturally gifted” or “a natural” when it came to making art because all of this is really hard for me. I have a feeling there are more of these types of people in various forms of fiction, where a character needs to get good at something fast for the sake of keeping the audience’s attention, but there are folks out there whose efforts seem, well, effortless.

If you’re struggling with whatever art you’re trying to make and you feel like you should give up because it doesn’t come naturally to you, rest assured that you are not alone. Most folks, myself included, have worked and practiced to get to a level we’re marginally happy with, and we’re still trying to improve ourselves. For me, nothing comes naturally except for the stubborn will to overcome something I’ve set my mind to.

I’ve loved comics since I was a boy, from the daily newspaper strips to the monthly comics I’d grab from the comic shop. When I finally sat down to try making my own they were not good. Not good at all. And there is no amount of nostalgia that would ever want me to look at them again. But they were my first steps to the comics career I’ve built for myself today, and those first struggling steps were by far the most important. But none of this has ever come easily or naturally to me.

It’s been the same for everything else. When I played music in school, the technical aspects of reading music were overwhelming and frightening. When I started writing short stories and poetry they were as rough as any teenager when they begin expressing themselves. When I began acting in high school, I wanted to be on stage all the time and so badly that I struggled to listen to direction (which followed me to my failure in acting school in college). When I began speaking publicly at conventions when I got to be a part of panel discussions, I could see attention drift away as I droned on about something I assumed was interesting.

In all these things I never “clicked” naturally when I started. I was a fumbling mess.

In the long run it’s given me a sense of pride to have overcome how rough a start I had with the things I’m passionate about. I’m proud of where I am as a comics creator after years of struggling to improve, and I recognize I still have room for much more improvement. None of this ever came naturally or easily, and it still doesn’t, but I’m stubbornly moving ever forward in an effort to overcome the personal obstacles that keep me from achieving “perfection,” whatever that may be.