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This is definitely a struggle for me as well. If I have a story rattling around in my head for a few weeks, I'll take a day to work out a high-level outline in a Google Doc and then just let that sit in a "someday" folder. Over time, I've cut some of those outlines loose. Others, I've added to and they've gotten better, and someday, I hope I get to do them.

But nobody knows those things exist but me, so I try to keep my talking to the things I'm working on *now*, instead of vague promises about cool stories later on. That has somewhat helped me thread this needle you're talking about.

I think your instincts are right -- prioritize the main thing you've got running, keep the other pots boiling and look for opportunities.

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For a long time I didn’t take myself seriously as a writer. Now that I do I recognize that a lot of stories I had slated as comics are served much better in other mediums.

Not knocking comic writing by any means, but the art carries so much of the storytelling load that it’s a very comfortable medium to write in.

The issue with wanting to tell people about some of these back burner stories only really comes up when I’m trying to think “content” to share. I’m fine leaving them to simmer but sometimes I feel the need to post something and they are very easy to pull from.

Social media makes it easy to feel like we aren’t doing enough as creatives. Last year I tried to lean into that and dabble as a content creator. I hated it. I’m actively fighting against that feeling now rather than trying to “go viral” or anything like that.

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I get all of that. I think as a writer, too, it's good to not limit yourself to one medium arbitrarily.

And yeah, I think trying to figure out what you want to do is probably more important than what you *should* do (I'm going through similar growing pains).

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May 8, 2023Liked by JL Johnson Jr.

As someone who is VERY wary of comic writers venturing into prose - it's not at all the same muscle or skill, and I'm hugely critical of most comic writers' prose attempts - I can say with all confidence that you've got what it takes to do long form prose, and do it incredibly well. It's a struggle to get people on board both prose and comics of the same universe, but Mark Smylie managed it with Artesia, and you likely can, too. The prose may even become the main thing, given time. And as someone currently doing "content", I feel you. I'm taking my sweet jolly time with it, b/c I refuse to give into the craze of it all. I just want to have fun, and help out people in the industries I adore. The rest I'll give solid efforts to achieve, but it'll grow as it grows. I'm not going to drive myself into an unhealthy state of mind to make it happen on some arbitrary timeframe. Generally, those who hold the course, and keep consistent, will find their way and their audience eventually.

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Dave, I’ve struggled to write a response to this for many of the same reasons I’ve struggled taking myself and my craft seriously. “Imposter syndrome” is what most would call it, but it cuts a bit deeper than that too.

In the case of Ennead, I’m pouring out a lifetime’s worth of water and am begging folks to take a sip. Every time I do and someone declines, my stores run a little bit dryer. When someone who I know has read the series is as high on it, and my ability, as you are it gives me a very necessary refill.

I’ve learned a lot over the last year of sharing my journey publicly on Substack and I’ve highlighted a lot of what I’ve picked up in this piece in particular. I’m going to stay the course, continue to refine my approach, and tell more stories.

Thanks for the continued support 🤟🏾🙏🏾

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I hear you, buddy. Every creative act comes with an anvil of self-doubt attached to it, and if we don't get immediate and constant (AND consistent) encouragement, it's easy to go limp and let the anvil take us down, down, down. But love the process more than the result, even if (insidiously) you still have to pay attention to and care about the result. Ennead is a story you plainly NEED to tell. So tell it. Be proud that you put in the work, and carefully crafted the frankly fucking impossible (storytelling is HARD.) Every single issue, or prose chapter, is something to hang your hat on. Most never even try. Do it for you. Strive for a wider audience, but don't overworry about it. At the end of the day, year, decade, and life, the joy is in the act of conscious, careful creation. Something that - however much it may share with other creations - could ONLY come from you, in its every aspect.

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