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On Happiness and Chasing Impossible Goals
To make creative work, it helps to have impossible goals. I want each comic I make to be better than the last one. I want each book I make to be bought by millions, glowingly reviewed, and universally beloved. I want my art to bring me happiness.
These are impossible goals. So why am I disappointed every single time I fail to achieve them?
Because without believing in impossible outcomes, I’m afraid I might fail to put in the necessary work.
Exerting too much effort on a creative pursuit is exhausting, of course. And it’s detrimental to the work itself. My lines get sloppy. My color schemes become dull. I use yet another sports metaphor.
But occasionally I feel I’ve struck the perfect balance. The work feels as relaxed and easy as sitting on a dock, waiting for the hungry fish of an idea to bite.
I never settle for one fish, however. Soon I convince myself there must be a feast of ideas out there. And I must catch and fry them at once.
Finding balance turns out to be another impossible goal. But even in an unbalanced creative life, I manage to find joy. Joy in trying new art supplies. Joy in exploring new visual metaphors for the overexamined life. And joy in ending the day with a new flavor of ice cream.
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