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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

20-Something Creatives in the Modern Age

"[R]ight now, see, at this very moment, we have a bandwagon rolling, I'm telling you. Every skinny little guy like me in New York who believes there's life on Alpha Centauri and got the shit kicked out of him in school and can smell a dollar is out there right this minute trying to jump onto it, walking around with a pencil in his shirt pocket, saying 'He's like a falcon, no, he's like a tornado, no, he's like a goddamned wiener dog.' Okay?

"And no matter what we come up with, and how we dress him, some other character with the same schtick, with the same style of boots and the same little doodad on his chest, is already out there, or is coming out tomorrow, or is going to be knocked off from our guy inside a week and a half."

- The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon

I'm challenging myself - starting this past weekend - to be a more active Instagrammer, and that means posting the books that I'm #currentlyreading. Right now I'm hooked on this book, and it's giving me all sorts of blog feels. Last night, I stayed up reading until I literally fell asleep and the Kindle slipped out of my hands and hit me in the face. I'm real exciting like that.

I've known for a long while now that I enjoy writing characters with creative habits, be they hobbies or professions, and I've found that I gravitate toward books featuring creative characters as a reader, too. I'd love to find some profound reasoning for this, but I think it's a simple case of searching for a reflection of self in our entertainment media of choice. That isn't always an acceptable habit when you're twenty-something, but it's authentic, and that's all any of us can be. As a twenty-something artist, I like reading about characters who are trying to align their dreams and realities; who occasionally let their heads tip back against the wall and sigh a tired sigh for the frustrated creative types who fret too much and sleep too little. And the magical part is, being twenty-something and frustrated isn't a new concept, but one that's held constant throughout the ages. Each generation likes to think they own the rights to youthful angst, but it's all one long unbroken story, told since time began, nothing but costume changes between centuries.

In The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, lead characters Sam and Joe are hopeful comic book artists trying to create the next Superman in 1939 Brooklyn. Faced with the challenges of originality, authenticity, and an industry seeking to reward the predictable and similar, their aspirations feel bold, but tenuous, dangling by the thread of outside approval, their individual voices hampered by an overreaching corporate voice. (This book also just screams of early Marvel comics, which I LOVE.)

It's a story that's played out in the lives of writers and artists for decades. But it isn't the only story anymore, and I feel immensely thankful to be a twenty-something creative at a time when the web allows us to create whatever the heck we want, and put it out there. Every once in a while, I just like to stop and feel grateful for that, for the way art is so available these days.

The point isn't that each voice is telling a story no one's ever heard before - our own real life stories are all reruns too, if we're honest - but that we have the chance to do something with the energy inside us. We get to tell our stories. And in my case, I'm so blessed and humbled to know that I have readers out there who want more. Seriously, you guys are the absolute best, and you make me excited to go to work each morning.

To keep up with my evolving TBR shelf, come see me on Instagram: @hppress.

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