We had the good fortune of connecting with Danielle Davis and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Danielle, do you have some perspective or insight you can share with us on the question of when someone should give up versus when they should keep going?
I feel like this is really THE question, especially if you’re someone who, like me and so many others, has faced “no’s” and hurdles in the universal experience of being an artist. It’s inevitable to ask: “Should I just give up?”
I think the simple answer is no.
I really believe that if you’re pursuing a dream, there’s some way to get there—even if it’s by shifting the dream. As long as you continue to take actions in line with what you care about, what’s meaningful to you, and your own identity, then I think you’re on the right track no matter how much you might feel like abandoning the endeavor.
For me, as a writer, I started fairly late, hit a bunch of snafus along the path, and have had many moments, days, and seasons of truly considering giving up what with the uncertainty, doubt, and feeling like I didn’t have a tool large enough to clear away the brambles and get through.
And I’ve definitely given up on certain projects that didn’t get traction or that I decided, in the long-run, were no longer true to or compelling enough to me. That’s part of the deal, letting go here and there. A couple remain heartbreaks, but most no longer sting because I changed to the point they no longer aligned with those same values I mentioned: what I care about, what’s meaningful to me, my identity.
Artists and people with a particular passion tend not to give up. That creative fire simply can’t be put out.
I believe in finding inventive solutions, embracing an unconventional path, and being open to what IS working—or what might.
So what if “it” never happens?
One thing’s for sure. SOMETHING will happen. It might be unexpected, what you most fear, what you’ve carefully avoided. It might even be exactly what you dreamed! What happens is simply what happens. It may not be what you wished for. But if you’re doing it because it keeps your creative fire alive, it can’t be wrong. Right?
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m a kids’ book writer and after having published a novel for tweens called ZINNIA AND THE BEES, my first picture book, TO MAKE, art by Mags DeRoma, will be out in 2022.
I also have a creative writing YouTube channel for kids called THIS WRITER’S LIFE and love teaching workshops to kids (and sometimes adults too). In the last year, I’ve been collaborating a lot more and forming rich partnerships with other creative people I admire both on projects and for mutual support, which has been really rewarding.
I’m excited about all my works in progress, but especially the animation ones, which is a new space for me. A fresh challenge is the best—feeling like I don’t know how to do something and then discovering the process.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
REDCAT immediately comes to mind. It’s an art and performance space run by CalArts at the back of the Disney Concert Hall. They put on the most fantastic programming—from an annual children’s animation festival to experimental music, theater, and dance. Whenever I attend a performance there, it stays with me forever.
Other must-do’s: a hike on some hill in the city, a walk around Silver Lake reservoir, lunch at Yuko Kitchen, visits to The Last Bookstore and Skylight Books, a stroll through Chinatown, and going to whatever gallery is having a show that’s not to miss at that moment. Finally, karaoke in Little Tokyo on Saturday night, my favorite thing to do in LA!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I dedicate this Shoutout to THE RED TREE by Shaun Tan, my favorite picture book (for all ages) by my favorite creator of the form, a book I’ve admired for many years. It is, ultimately, about hope.