In theory, any scrappy young kid with a tablet and a Wi-Fi connection could pick up a pen and become the next big thing. This is what was and still is great about the Internet: With the right grit, everyone can carve out a place for themselves. There’s just one problem — the party’s on fire now.
As you know, I’ve been trying to do more reading this year. It’s been a pretty good mix so far, ranging from Jimmy O. Yang’s unorthodox TV journey to Kevin Chong’s retelling of a classic tale, from Michael Crichton’s fossil digging in the Old West to Neil deGrasse Tyson’s light speed lessons in astrophysics. And I’ve read several webcomics collections by Sarah Andersen too.
In Herding Cats, you’re treated to a great selection of Sarah Scribbles webcomics. This curated collection takes up about two-thirds to three-quarters of the book, and it’s similar to what you find in her previous compilations: Adulthood Is a Myth and Big Mushy Happy Lump. (Both of those are great too and I highly recommend them.)
The last section of Herding Cats is titled “Making Stuff in the Modern Era: A guide for the Young Creative.” In it, Sarah Andersen offers some insight into her life as a successful creative professional. In particular, she talks about tapping into the limitless opportunity or potential of the Internet while simultaneously avoiding the raging dumpster fire of hate and vitriol.
Like Sarah, I wouldn’t be where I am today if it were not for the Internet. At the same time, it’s far easier to get discouraged in the modern age of social media. Haters and trolls abound, so it can be incredibly nerve-wracking to “put yourself out there.” But you must. You owe it to yourself to try. You owe it to the world to express yourself.
Creativity is not only worth it but is necessary in these times. Artists and writers have the unique ability of looking at the world and reinterpreting it in their own way, and this perspective is one I would sorely miss if a young creative chose not to show their work. And for the sake of my own sanity, I much prefer spending my time looking at the works of new, growing artists than the fire party that the Internet has become. Sort of like… a little blossom of hope in an apocalyptic landscape.
Life is hard. And haters gotta hate. But you can be that “little blossom of hope” for the rest of us, whether you’ve got an audience of 10 people or 10 million. Explore your creativity and strive to shorten the distance between what is privately felt and universally known. Maybe with a cat.