In our inaugural #ThorsDay post, I’d like to introduce you to The Gentle Hammer of Truth, a friend we’ll grow to know well over the next few years. Ghot is a friendly piece of magical ironmongery, a non-binary anthropomorphized entity who exists to deliver hard truths to content creators all across the internet. You’re welcome to refer to ver in the expletive form, as in “Oh my Ghot, why the frak won’t anyone buy my books?”
And for those of you already well versed in the realm of sci-fi author blogs, I’m totally basing Ghot on John Scalzi’s Mallet of Loving Correction, because it’s a hilarious concept.
So let’s christen this concept with a simple truth that nobody wants to hear about their creative output: The World Doesn’t Need Your Story.
People have been creating fiction for thousands of years and writing it down for hundreds. We live in a time when it is literally impossible to absorb all the free media which is released in a given year. And I’m just talking about podcasts. Throw in over-the-air television, free newspapers, blogs, books set to free for a weekend, and every other form of given away media and ad-supported content, and you could spend 24 hours a day reading, watching, and listening to media only within your preferred genres and you’d still not get through it all.
But Ghot does have some good news for you: The world doesn’t need your story, but you need to tell it anyway.
Culture is about excess.
If we strip away everything that humans want and focus exclusively on what we supposedly need, we’re left with a simple grey world in which we all subsist on water and bland food paste. We wake up after precisely eight hours of sleep, spend about sixteen hours laboring to create the materials of subsistence (with breaks only for travel, ingestion, and excretion), then return to our sleeping coffins to await the next day’s labor. It works. Rails are laid, dams are built, and the mechanism of human life moves on, slowly transforming the planet into a dull grey sphere of efficient survival.
But as books, movies, and concept rock albums have told us repeatedly, that sort of dull existence is not living.
The essence of culture is excess.
Rather than accepting that we have enough entertainment to drive a hundred civilizations into the ground with wonton consumption, we continue to create. We sit in our living rooms, ignoring the television which can stream the second season of Stranger Things (which I still haven’t watched as of writing this) to our eyeballs in a kinescope of retro joy, and instead we peck away at out keyboards, or draw, or manipulate MIDI timelines, or build models of baseball stadiums in lego.
We create because some of us have that weird quirk to our brains that insists that we must make things, even if they are not necessary.
So try not to get angry when people aren’t reading your book, or watching your videos, or listening to your songs. If you want to create to make a living, then you’re going to have to do your research, bend to the realities of the market, and sell the hell out of your product using a dozen different strategies. If you want to live to create, you’re going to have to accept that some, even most, of what you create is going to be ignored by the world.
We like to believe that the world needs to see our creations, but the painful truth is that thew world doesn’t care. It is we who care. It is we the creators who need to exorcise these demons of imagination from our brains and foist them upon the rest of humanity.
So give yourself permission today to create without care for whether somebody else will want what you are making. Nobody else needs what you are making, but you need to make.