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By Hope Pennington

When Death Sounds Like More Fun Than Making Stuff

Call it burn out. Call it a stage of life. Call it whatever you want. But these days when I go to make stuff, I simply lock up.

In the past, writing, drawing, or film-making gave me a spark that ignited my passion for living. These days, even the thought of writing fills me with dread and completely paralyzes me. What happened? It is not that I changed.

But these days, I'm scared to death to create anything. Upon closer examination, I am losing it in several areas of my life. I'm pushing people away, I'm eating poorly, I'm not working out, I'm not sleeping. Are all of these related to my anxiety? Which is driving which?

As I look at how my art has changed lately, I realize something. You know how they say "write what you know"? Well, I started doing that. Even in my sci-fi and fantasy stories, each character has become another facet of myself. The scenes and motifs and arcs in each story have become eerily similar to things I've suffered through in my own life and am still bleeding from.

Ever since I started writing what I know, every time I put pen to page or finger to keyboard I'm baring the innermost parts of my soul to a thousand strangers. It's like standing on the front lines of a battlefield facing an enemy armed with razor-sharp pikes; I lower my weapons, close my eyes, raise my arms and give the command to fire.

I believe every true artist goes through this every day. The worst part of creating is that a good number of those metaphorical men throw their pikes. It hurts – a lot.

Sometimes, a single enemy soldier sees you. Sometimes one of the pike-men hears you, drops his weapon, and walks up to stand beside you. When that happens, all the battles, all the blood, all the wounds are suddenly worth it.

These days, when I walk up and see the pike-men, I lose heart, I panic, I crumple, I think of how impossible it is for me to be successful against such odds, and I retreat in defeat.

I do not think it is the bad habits that are holding me back from writing or the lack of writing that is causing my bad habits, but rather that all of them spring from the fact that I have lost my courage: the courage to write epic novels, shoot groundbreaking films, and create unique comics that inspire a generation to be heroes.

That's wrong and selfish. The world needs my light. They need YOUR light to guide them through the battle (okay – I'm done with the pike metaphor).

If you're as terrified of making stuff as I am right now, take my hand. We'll walk through this messy, bloody field together. Keep fighting, because one day someone will come up to you and tell you that you're the reason they kept going. In that moment, it will all be worth it.

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