S.T Joshi is an American writer, musician, critic and award-winning scholar whose work has covered much weird and fantastic fiction, especially H. P. Lovecraft. Talking with CJ Halbard on the Project Tempest Podcast, S.T. offered excellent advice for young (and not-so-young) creators making their way in the world. This excerpt has been lightly edited for clarity.
I actually call myself a cheerful pessimist, because quite frankly, let's say the world is horrible. Let’s be blunt about it. Especially in certain parts of the United States, I am lucky to be living in what I consider a civilised part of the United States, politically and in other ways. There are other parts, you could not pay me to live there.
All I can say is, to find something that really moves you, it takes a while sometimes. Sometimes people get it early, I guess I got it early on, but my interest in horror fiction and Lovecraft led me to other avenues and you should allow yourself to pursue it if you can. I think that today there are just too many distractions, you have to step back a little bit. For example I do not participate at all in social media, not at all - I am not on Facebook, I do not do Twitter. I don’t even know some of these things that are out there.
For one thing, they're huge time wasters. I know several people who seem to be addicted to social media, maybe it is a certifiable addiction for all I know, because they feel they have to get their voices out there. I don’t, I am comfortable. If people don’t know what I think about certain things, well that's too bad, let it go. I’ll write a blog like once every two weeks maybe, and mostly that’s just information about what I’m doing.
There was a time when I did get very argumentative and confrontational in my blogs and got into a lot of trouble and a lot of disputes, but all that did was just raise my blood pressure. I decided this is not healthy and stepped back from that. Aside from being a time waster, social media I think is really harmful in a lot of ways in dissipating your focus on things. We are faced with a deluge of information, and I think that is affecting our minds. I can feel already over the last couple of years that I can’t focus as well as I used to because there are too many other things out there.
I’m not a newshound at all, I do pay attention, I go a couple times a day to the New York Times website or to the CNN website to see what’s happening in the world, but you’re just bombarded with information. I think at some point you have to step back and cut off yourself from all this deluge of really useless information. It goes in one ear and out the other, and just clogs up your mind and prevents you from focusing on what it is you want to do with life. That’s all I can say. It takes a while to figure out what you want to do, but once you figure it out, do it with as much tenacity as you can, as that’s the only way you’ll get anything done.
The Project Tempest Podcast is where creators from around the globe talk with author C J Halbard about their journeys, struggles, and inspirations.