This post is about keeping one's creative cup topped off. I figured it may be a bit verbose, so I'm posting some of my images done in the past to help break it up and keep things hopefully interesting...
I often told my children and anyone else who will listen that perspective matters. If you can't get into someone shoes and head, inhabit their lives you can't make your characters believable. If you don't actually LOOK at the way the world works, you can't even render it successfully, let alone get someone to emote over your illustration/art. Being lost in your own head, is a must for the writer/illustrator, but you must navigate the world if you want to have anything to say and be effective in saying it.
Though it's true going deep and wide is a part of your process, HOW to do that matters. I realized part of my difficulty was my aversion to that. If I went TOO deep I might become lost in that rant, that despite, or bliss or whatever the siren call of that time, project, mood was. Personally I think every once in a while we all need a good wallow. But the secret is only once in awhile. I realized I get excited (and even competitive) sometimes when I see what other people are doing. A part of your process, IMO, is to avail yourself to others as well.
Last week I went to Walker Library's event of Cookies and Crime (both wonderful, btw). I'd met one of the speakers, Lea Wait a few times, and in part, I'm getting myself back into being involved when I'd become hermitous (is that a word? If not it should be...) and there were two other speakers, Gerry Boyle and Kieran Shields (sorry Kieran, I didn't find a website for you, if you'd rather a different link).
A short digression: A while back I'd made some line drawings, and I would sell them for rubber stamps. It kept me in "pin money" as my gram would say. I didn't think I was good enough to call myself artist for the longest time, and it took me slightly longer to call myself a writer/author. So I was surprised, that I sold quite a few for enough money to keep me in paper and Sharpies, and you can still find some of my drawings at a wonderful rubber stamp company, After Midnight Art Stamps.
Except one woman who wanted one of my drawings but didn't want to pay for it. Normally that would tick me off but would let this roll off my back. But because I never sold them for more than $35 dollars (and granted this was one of the most expensive ones) it had sentimental value and had been a lot of work. She told the rubber stamp making community I'd plagiarized my own work. She threatened legal action, I threatened it back and would have followed through, because I knew the (then copyright) law (which is one of the reasons I would have followed through). She backed down, but the damage was done, quite a few would no longer consider my drawings.
It's not a very good copy, because I stopped selling them right after the incident, as it left me with such a bad feeling, and have misplaced the original (though I may rework it again soon).
I do that, when it sometimes becomes too much. I stop. That's why getting older and a tadpole wiser is great, because you can revisit old habits, especially if they work. I'd stopped interacting with most people. I'm not horrifically ugly, but I have a crone's smile, and especially in the last few years, living with others, because of the economy and not wanting my family to be more upset, I've lived like a hobo again, as I figured it's much easier for me to, than for my kids. It has hurt my heart in ways I only hope to recover, but I have empathy that perhaps I wish I didn't have (as I told someone today, empathy means you've gone through something similar enough to UNDERSTAND). So I'm bruised and hurting inside and out, not that attractive, which I didn't really know it mattered to me, until I found out again, not so much.
Embrace your fears. How to do that when it's painful? When I was fearful of Photoshop and the commitment, I started doing baby faeries with flowers. Painting what I loved and enjoyed gave me butt-in-chair, and I have a few of them so far, and this one is Dandy Leon:
Emboldened with the events of the week before (making friends with the new librarian and seeing Pat Gallant-Charette's inspirational story), I decided to go to the Cookies and Crime and see Lea.
Along the way, I stopped into the Saccarrappa Art Collective and there was an old friend, Jeremy Greene, and it did my heart good). He'd owned an art store I loved, and it no longer exists, because of the economic downturn.
But it was wonderful to see he was making art (and beautiful too, if you're in the area, check it out, there's some wonderful art happening there). Knowing there's life after difficulty, seeing and hugging an old friend, what's not to love.
The repast at the library was wonderful (I think Nina Henning-Sachs is responsible for the spread, but whomever, they are two for two)and I had a plateful. I no longer ate in public, so I'm glad I had decided to embrace the "YES" in my life, because the chocolate treats were, well chocolate.
I'd forgotten how witty, Lea was. (she writes historical mystery as does Kieran; Gerry's more the hardboiled crime-blotter type). They all were charming in their own way. It was a crowded room, and most people were avid fans of one or the other writers. I was sad to see they were mostly older people, not because I'm against us oldies but goodies, but I think it's healthier when the generations mix it up and learn from one another, but the library does a great job of giving something for the across the board reader.
They answered the same question, often in three different ways, though I found myself nodding in recognition to most of the responses. They talked of their journey to a writing life, from Gerry as a gumshoe mid-Maine crime reporter to Lea as a corporate writer, antique dealer and mother to Kieran a history buff and lawyer.
It was wonderful to reinforce how the same and yet how different we are.
It felt good to connect with people (hard to write about us and our conditions when I treat us as THEM). I'd forgotten the bolstered feeling of having some of my own process vindicated (I DO THAT!). Even if the exercise hadn't been good for me-- and it's imperative if you have a sedentary job to MOVE, my mood lightened, I felt more optimistic of my work, and the world felt a little broader. So coming back, I worked a little bit more (that day a few of the most perfect words fell into my brain and onto my manuscript, and would that have happened if I hadn't walked to the library, paced the ideas, jogged my brain or sped through the stories?). If something is a passion you have to say YES to it.
Because my world felt a little broader, I think my work will be a bit deeper. One can only hope.