Well, we survived the first week of 2018. Personally (and honestly), I’m ready to throw this year back into the river and hope we catch a better one.
Yet, I trust that there is balance in all things, so I know some good will come for the sh’tuff I had to deal with last week.
It felt really hard to get back in my groove. The dust irritation which gave me a cold left me hardly able to do any audio editing because I knew I wasn’t hearing everything correctly. I also forced myself to admit to myself (yes, some of my self talk goes just like that) that I needed to get some sleep and that pushing myself, especially when I wasn’t feeling 100%, was really not healthy physically or mentally. So, I let myself sleep in for a couple days. Yep, that threw off my morning groove. As a result, I didn’t get much audio work or illustration work done. Oh well, healing is important too.
I also had my quarterly publishing business meeting with myself. I write out what I’ve done in the last quarter and what I want to get done in the next quarter so that I can build a picture of where I’m at and where I want to go. Generally I leave these “meetings” feeling optimistic. This time, I just felt overwhelmed. Not because I have so much to do (which I do — I’m not trying to close any gap — I have a lot of projects I want to do and the Universe keeps serving me up with new ones, which I’m glad for because I love starting new stories), but because… well, I’m not really sure. I had hoped writing out the sentence would clue me in, but I still don’t know.
WARNING: authenticity ahead! Tread carefully. The waters will get murky.
Writing-wise, this week has been decent. With my lower goal for 2018, I haven’t felt like I’m insanely trying to get words done. The pace has been more relaxed. I feel more frantic about getting things edited to go to readers frankly. I am nearly done with Mystery of the Stardust Monk and I’m looking forward to getting to the 6th Loki novella. So, aside from editing, the writing isn’t overwhelming me (other than I have a lot of stories written previously that I want to get out).
Yes, I am irritated at “falling behind” with audio and illustration this week, but it’s not like I have a deadline that I must hit. No overwhelm there.
I did do some painting on Saturday and Sunday nights. I was just working with 8″x10″ canvases there, but I was painting into the dark, meaning I had no plan for them — I was just painting. I will show both paintings later on this week on the blog. Halfway through the second painting, I had to stop and go Google things like, “what to do when you’re afraid to paint,” and “creative anxiety.” Gee, do you think I just hit the overwhelm button on the head?
Mind you, Saturday night I left the second painting a complete mess. I had these mountains in this landscape that were going really well until (surprise!) I messed them up. I mixed up some paint and slapped it over part of the mountains, making half of them way too dark. I put it aside, knowing that the paint needed to dry before I even tried to do anything further. I figured I’d paint over them again.
Sunday night came and I decided to try to fix the mountains. It was only a practice piece, right? Nothing serious. If I still didn’t get it, I’d start something new over the top. So I mixed new paint, trying to get back to the original mountain color I had.
I did it.
I even got the mountains that I really liked. They were beautiful.
But they were too close.
I was so determined to destroy this painting that I decided to give them a mist to push them back in the painting. So, there I went, putting a mist over the mountains, my happily painted mountains.
Then things started to appear in the foreground. I began to sketch some trees in (shocker, I know. Trees, who woulda thought it?) I already knew it was a snowy scene, so I began to build.
Then, suddenly I was done.
Except I wanted weeds in it. So I tried to put some weeds in.
Epic fail. I was really determined to destroy this painting.
I tried to take my weeds out, which just left me with oddly smeared paint on the canvas.
Time to correct that.
Oh yes, for sure, this is where I would mess up the painting beyond repair. I was certain.
I reached out, that same way I do when I’m writing, and just let it happen in the way it needs to. Weedy bushes began to take shape.
I honestly don’t know how, but the painting worked out. I put down my paintbrush knowing I shouldn’t touch it again and promptly began to put my painting supplies away. I don’t know how it turned out considering how many times I thought I’d devastated it.
I don’t know why I have can do that with my painting. I wish I could plan it out more. I feel as if I should give some thought to form before I start. I don’t know why I paint trees. The things I see when I look at a painting, whether it is mine or someone else’s, absolutely amazes me. I don’t understand it. I realize that most people will find those last two sentences hugely cryptic, but that’s because I’ve been hanging around a lot of art lately and the things that the paintings have told me about the artists weird even me out a little bit (and I don’t get weird’ed out about things other people find a little woo-woo). I know all of it is trying to tell me something. I really hoped that sitting back and painting this last weekend out help, but it’s only made it worse.
I feel like I’m already spread to thin (writing, audiobooks, kid’s books, comics, painting, wanting to do animation). Don’t all the books tell you to “pick one thing” or “focus,” or if they (the authors of other self-improvement books) want people who do lots of things to not feel back, they give the contrary advice of “do everything because you’re a ‘scanner’ or a ‘renaissance’ person.” The logical part of my brain spits out that it makes for good multiple streams of income. My two-year-old artist self just wants to have fun and doesn’t care about making money. My getting-older self wants to not have to worry about money, but know that it is coming in. I want to create things people enjoy, things that make their worlds happier, adventures that entertain them and let them escape for a while. I realize that money is merely an exchange of energy. Hence, overwhelm.
Worse, I’ve “solved” this dilemma for myself time and time again. I know that the answer is. I just don’t know why I have to keep proving it to myself.
Yes, I do. Come on, Dawn, be honest with yourself.
This is a true look inside the brain of a logical creative. This is the kind of stuff that runs around in my head each and every day.
Journey on only if you fear not to tread through dark and unclean waters. It’s getting deep in here.
The answer: I have to do what makes me happy.
Does writing make me happy? Yes! Audiobooks? Yes. Illustration: Yes, after I get started working on it. Getting beyond the blank page is still a chore. Painting: Yes, after I get out of my head and and just let it flow. And no. I fear wasting my time.
That makes me feel like a schmuck! Every damn time.
I’ve often said that writing is what I was born with. I don’t remember a time before I was writing. I’ve always been writing. Painting came into my life during a time when I couldn’t write, when I had creativity burning through me and no outlet for it. Painting was the gift that saved my life. How can I not cherish it?
It use to be so easy. I just painted. Now I feel like I have all these rules of painting running around in my head: composition, color scheme, quality, collectors, body of work, etc.
Did I never have the same thing in my head about writing? Character, setting, point of view, writing in a single genre so readers knew your work, publishers, agents, critiques, manuscript format, query letters, etc.
Most of those went away in this new age. An indie author can write whatever they please. Telling a good story is really the most important. I use to think that good writing was good writing, but I’ve changed my opinion there too. It doesn’t have to be perfect if it keeps a reader in the story.
So why can I not let the same things apply to painting?
Because I don’t know enough. My painter self is far less skilled than my writing self.
Is that true?
Yes, and no. Mostly no. And, above all, who cares? Seriously! Who bloody cares?
If you’re still reading this, I’m sorry that you have to wade through this. Don’t you have anything else better to do? You can scroll down if you just want the numbers. You really don’t have to read all this if you don’t want. I’ll understand.
People reading a story just want the escape. People looking at art just want to view the piece. They don’t care about how hard the artist worked (or didn’t), or if they plotted/sketched it all out, or which brush made which stroke, or if it was done on a PC or Mac. They want the emotion that the art makes them feel.
Doesn’t the artist always make that journey first? The initial person to have the experience is the artist. They always use the level of skills they have at the moment to interpret the emotion. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. It is the act of doing which helps the artist get to the next level. But the average reader/viewer doesn’t know what level the artist is at, nor do they care. Again, they want the emotional reaction they are receiving.
Yeah, this rabbit hole is getting quite deep.
As I said, I know where it ends. I’ve been down it too many times. I don’t know why I have to keep making this journey. I’m done with it. Yet I keep cycling on it.
To paint or not to paint, that is the question.
I know I’m miserable when I don’t paint. I miss it. I view paintings and I think about how the artist created it and I want to pick up my brush. I’ve spent a lot of time and money on this. I have a lot of books and videos. Those last two are not reason enough for me to keep at this if it doesn’t make me happy. Does it make me happy? Yes. I love seeing something created from nothing. I like seeing the magic happen. It frustrates me because I don’t have any control over it. Even writing, I have control because I can always pull myself out of the timeline of the story and go back and fix things. If I need a book or a knife or a phrase or information passed from one character to another, I can go back and add that in. If I don’t know what I’m going to paint, if I just keep painting blindly, I can’t figure out what I need in the painting.
Okay, I think I may have just stepped onto a new path. I see a style in my artwork, but I don’t have a cohesive body of work – like a “genre.” Even in my writing, I am pretty much a fantasy author. Okay, so I’m picking up sci-fi elements in some of my new works, and I have some romances that I want to release. At the core, my writing style is my writing style and my “genre” is fantasy. I want to see the same thing with my art, but I haven’t yet. I’ve seen “tree” and “fantasy landscapes,” but I want more. I have a leap that I want to make. I would love to have magical people in my art. Occasionally we’ve seen them creep in, but I’ve never been happy with any of them. And I’m just not the artist I want to be to get myself to that point. Overwhelm.
Then I start to think that maybe I should save this kind of imagery for when I’m working on my comics. Because, after all, that’s about the story of characters.
Is that my clue? Is that what I needed?
A little voice reminds me that I have always wanted to write amazing stories and draw beautiful pictures.
Can I be okay painting landscapes, usually with trees, at least for now?
I want more. I want to be doing majestic paintings. If I’m going to paint, I want it to be deep, a calling to the ancient soul within all of us.
And, as I say that, I see an image of a doorway with vines like a secret passageway through an old castle. I do not see a single person in this image.
I feel like it’s time for me to adjust my quest. I am not happy painting trees on landscapes. That’s all that comes right now. I must stretch beyond this level. I must find what I want to move onto. I’d rather paint castles than barns, though the occasional outhouse if neat. That makes me wonder if I’m leaving fairy places behind. No, not necessarily.
I feel that comes on because I don’t know where I’m going. I know that my final answer is that I have to do what makes me happy (both as an artist and as a publisher of my artworks), but I don’t know what that means. That might be why I keep going down this trail; I haven’t found my answer. I don’t know what’s next. I know I want something more, but I have yet to define it. I know for my writing what’s next, and even for my comics and illustration, but not for my painting. How must my painting grow for me to feel challenged and longing to increase my skills? Yes, that is it.
It’s been a long weekend in trying to decipher that issue. If you held on through all that, thank you for taking that journey with me (even though, by the time you have read these words, I’ve already moved on). I hope the path through my own head helps you on yours.
Fiction words written last week: 3,848 words
Blogs/Newsletter articles/non-fiction written: 3,834 words – mostly thanks to this long blog.
Writing month to date total: 7,682 words
Writing year to date total: 369,271 words
Drawing/painting last week: I spent about 2 hours working on my kids’ book. I also spent 3 hours painting (not including the 2 hours of writing this blog where I was figuring out my “issues.”)
Audio: I spent almost 2 hours editing audio.