My friends and family must wonder what I do all day. Sometimes I worry that they’re sick and tired of my only update being “I’m working on the book. The deadline is end of April.” I’m sure some of them have mental images of me waking up in the morning to a big yawn, hopping into my bunny slippers, eating a muffin (aka breakfast cupcake), brushing my teeth, then sitting at my drafting table and whistling while I work all the live long day. How cute! I wish my life could be like this. I know that I am blessed to have a career doing what I love and working from home, but I wouldn’t say it’s been that easy.
Last night, when I was on the edge of tears after a disastrous affair involving perspective, ice skaters, and historic costumes, I shrank away from my studio and sat across from my husband, Dan, for some much needed consolation. He’s very good about listening to all my whimpers and moans. “Maybe you should leave it and work on another piece for now?” I mumbled and nodded. “I mean…I don’t really know what your process is.”
“Ha!” I exclaim, “I’ll let you know when I figure that out!”
Everyone knows that Artists have a process. We revel in learning about how the greats set about creating their masterful and prolific bodies of work. I have personally OOOHed and AAAHed in many a lecture while feverishly taking notes about different artists’ almighty process. After all this time in the creative field, I don’t think I have a process. I feel somewhat like a hack, especially now that I’m “legit” with a three-book deal. While I do have a style and form of executing a drawing, I don’t think this has anything to do with process. I think process happens more in thinking and concept than in execution.
Maybe instead of a creative process, I have a creative struggle. Now, I’m not trying to be dramatic, and I certainly do not want anyone’s sympathy. I am trying to use the word “struggle” in the most humble sense, as in it’s hard. It’s really hard!! Sometimes I sit at my desk and I look at all of my reference and my sketches, and it’s not enough. I’ll stare at the desk or the wall or out the window and think, think, think. Sometimes I can draw and draw, and it’s just not right. It’s tricky. One can be very accurate in their rendering of something: everything looks like how it should look, the perspective is spot on, the composition is ideal. And yet, it doesn’t work because it’s lacking magic. That’s what I’m up against every day. How do I create that magic?
There are some pieces I’ve made that do carry magic, and I’m so grateful for that. I know without question when I look at them that they are special. But, I can’t tell you where that comes from. It’s not something that I can pull out of a hat, it just happens. Meanwhile, I have deadlines, and whole books that I’m supposed to fill with said magic. Last night I felt like I was waving a plastic stick in the air and chanting abracadabra, waiting for someone to throw a tomato at me.
I asked Dan, “What was I like last year when I was working on book 1?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, was I a mess like this? Was it coming together easily but just took a long time? I can’t remember! Why can’t I remember!? It was my first book, one of the most defining moments of my life, and it’s all a blur!”
“Umm…I just remember you were in the studio drawing…a lot.”
(Lesson #928357: I need to keep a journal.)
Dan was right though. I was drawing a LOT. While I can’t remember much from creating book one, I do picture a fuzzy image of my desk and a pencil moving. There is a lot of magic in book 1, and there have been magical moments making book 2. All I can do is keep creating opportunities for the magic to happen by continuing to draw, and allow mistakes, and redraw, and complain to Dan. Perhaps that is my “process.”
In any event, it’s time to draw.
For more information on my book, Little Elliot, Big City, please visit www.LittleElliotBigCity.com.