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The Elle Wood's Mentality

By Akira Brown

WildStar Press | Illustrated by Akira Brown

Do you ever feel like a plastic bag drifting through the wind? 

Is it fear paralysis stopping you? Or is it the overwhelming slog of rejection letters thanks to the lack of experience that companies refuse to give? Maybe it’s something else that’s making you feel so aimless when it comes to achieving your goals. Either way it goes, you’re certainly not alone. Every creative, from artist to filmmaker has been in a position where they could do nothing more than contemplate what they’re doing in life. Me included. 

But what did you do in that aimless time? 

For me, it was a lot of contemplation and mental readjustment. Thus, the Elle Wood Mentality was born. For those that don’t know, Elle Wood’s is the main character from the movie Legally Blonde. In the short sum up, it’s about a sorority girl who tries to win her ex-boyfriend back by getting accepted into Harvard - only to realize she doesn’t need him. There’s a specific scene of the first day of school where she runs into her ex and he’s incredulous that she got into law school. Her retaliation is, “What? Like it’s hard?” And that, my friend, is how you should envision your goals. That’s how you should combat that aimlessness when you’re unsure of what’s next. 

Believe it or not, that’s how WildStar Press started too. I could call it spite. I could call it delusion, courtesy of a friend, Sharean M (S-Morishita Studios) saying that “you gotta enter your delulu era.” but I have settled with calling it the Elle Wood’s Mentality because it sums up all of that into one title. When I was fresh out of college, me and my peers were throwing out portfolios, comic pitches, and resumes to publishers to get to that Next Big Step – but we were getting nothing. And after an accumulation of rejection letters from publishers, from anthologies, from the industry, I decided that it was time to take matters into my own hands. It was time to do things myself. Starting an anthology couldn’t be that hard, could it? But what was an anthology if there was no place to publish it? It couldn’t be that hard to create a publisher, right? And the next thing I knew, WildStar Press was born with its very first anthology Tales of the Unknown

Now don’t get me wrong, creation is a hard process, whether it’s building a comic, creating a publisher, making a portfolio, a film, etc. But it’s worth mentioning that this mentality should also be paired with If you don’t make it, no one else will. Even if a publisher doesn’t take your pitch or or your song isn’t the next big hit, there will never be a fully accurate representation of you other than what you create for you. And sometimes, if you want those stories, you want those products, you have to be the one to make it.  

For me, there were only a small number of indie publishers that I knew about when I decided to start WSP. And with the knowledge that I had back then, I decided that I wanted to make sure this press was built with a purpose specific to me and my peers: That it would be that ‘first step’ into the comic industry. Because once you have that first publishing credit, the next steps might just be a little easier. Or at the very least, it’s not a roundabout endless cycle of trying to get a job, but you don’t have experience – but then the publisher won’t give you the job to begin with so you can gain that experience. I started WSP so that the cycle could be broken, especially for marginalized identities. 

In the process of repeating “What? Like it’s hard?” don’t forget to also answer that question too. You have to know how to break down your goals into smaller chunks so that aimlessness can be better managed. If you don’t know the steps you need to take in order to get to your overarching goal, it’ll only be harder for you when you start – it may be even harder to start at all. Plan for your successes and your failures and know that failures are never permanent. No matter how many rejection letters you receive, no matter how many times you give up on the project or burn out remember two things: 

  1. No one can create exactly what you want to see in the world - not like you can.

  2. There’s someone in a higher position than you or even in the position you want to be in that could be doing the job objectively worse and still getting paid for it.

In the sum up, sometimes when someone doesn’t think you’re capable enough you have to pull yourself out of your funk, sprinkle in some delusion, a pinch of spite, and the love you have for your own projects to look at them and go, 

What? Like it’s hard?

See you another morning, 

~ Akira Brown

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