Given there was over a year between Don’t Call Me Cupcake 1 and Don’t Call Me Cupcake 2, I was thrilled at the two month gap between #2 and #3. I certainly didn’t expect to have only a two month gap between #3 and #4, but here we are…
I don’t expect to keep up this pace whatsoever, but given a two month gap would land DCMC 5 in August, which happens to be my birthday month, and this birthday happens to be the big 30… Well, I might try to make it happen one more time.
So I’ve been prattling on in my own kind of Wonderland, shouting at the world and proud as punch that I’ve actually kept going with something that has terrified me on a number of levels. But I kept (and keep) doing it, and I’ve never really stopped to think about why.
Here and there recently – but in the zine world in particular – I’ve seen quite a few people ask some variation of the question: But what if no one cares?
The question always makes me smile if only for a little while because it reminds me of a quote I read when I was young enough for it to take me a couple minutes to understand: Everything ever written was cared about by at least one person.
Forgiving the passive voice for the sake of meaning, this quote got me through the rougher teenage years when I was passionate about writing but didn’t have the ego to skip over the self-doubt. It didn’t matter if no one else cared because I cared enough to write it. If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t have written it.
Yet this is the same flippant attitude that bothers me when aspiring authors ask published authors about plotting or pantsing. I’ve been asked that oh-so-common question – “But isn’t it annoying to lose so much work if the plot changes?” – only to find myself giving the same flippant reply that frustrated me so much when I was starting out:
Yes, but it’s much worse to lose fully written chapters.
Perhaps not flippant to some, but it felt and still feels that way to me.
I have a Jackson Pollock of mental illness labels, so believe me when I say that I know “I care” can be about as effective as carrying water in a hair net when it comes to pushing you through the doubts into getting your words and art on the pages. Because you don’t always care. It’s more a feeling of being possessed and needing to put those things you are feeling ‘out there’ somewhere. It’s a need rather than an act of care and desire.
So what if no one cares?
This is the point at which I would love to tell you something inspiring. Something like that quote I read so long ago that pops up in my head and gives me that moment of a wry grin. I don’t know if I’m that person, though. However, I still want to offer you this…
I have done and been many things in my life. Tried on many labels, held many loves secret while shouting many others to the world. I have been so thoroughly in love that I thought something not of my understanding was going to burst out of my chest at any moment. I’ve also sat down on a bed, placed a rifle barrel in my mouth and tasted the tang of that metal. I say this not to sound impressive or dramatic. I say this because each life is filled with amazing highs and lows that are difficult to contemplate. Through everything that I have seen, enjoyed, and survived, there is one thing in my life that has never wavered as the most beautiful of reassurances:
Finding out that I am not alone.
By far, that simple knowledge that has come to me in many different ways over the years has been the most valuable. (Sorry, geometry. I know you helped me play a mean game of pool.) Every time I discovered something that made me think, “I’m not the only one” it was like an entirely new world had opened up to me. That is why you create – because for every you out there doubting, there is a me out there who needs to know that this existence is not a solitary one.
Whether you absolutely adore mail, want to talk about the existential intricacies of The Blacklist, feel the need to share the ins and outs of gardening in your kitchen sink, or simply need to sort out on paper what it is about the snap of the rubberband against your wrist that makes everything better: express it.
Though you might not feel it now or even years from now, someone out there will read what you’ve written and think: That’s me.
They’ll read your words or look at your art and wonder why it took them so long to find it. They’ll find something in what you’ve had the courage to express that will get them through something, inspire them, or will simply – beautifully – make them feel less alone in the world.
Don’t stop yourself from writing because you’re afraid no one will care; write because there is someone out there who will.