Of course, we all know when I say “take a vacation” there’s still a degree of unstoppable creativity going on; but to slide into say, the 4th of July weekend, and realize my plans are all too crammy and not vacactiony enough is a minor triumph. So, rather than find myself frazzled, having attempted and failed too many things because of simply having too little time, I will go into the holiday weekend kind of relaxed, breathing free in the knowledge that my schedule is more of less clear.
The new program of writing rough drafts by hand plays rather well into this more relaxed attitude. It’s always my fear that I will end up carrying more stuff than I need. That goes as much for day trips as for extended treks around the world. It sounds silly, it is silly, but there’s nothing I can do about it, that’s how I’m wired. However, knowing that a measly notebook and pencil are all I require to get me through the boring hours on the train or those lucky moments during the day or those pesky last thoughts of the night is lovely. I can skrit skrit skrit words on the page, delighting in the tactile nature of grinding graphite into paper, and still end up with something rather useful, you know, down the line when I sit and type it.
As I talk about all this relaxing and writing, it is important to note that I’ve hit the depressive wall in my behavioral modification process. Where I was once joyfully knocking out 10 to 20 pages per day, all in the span of 2 or 3 CD’s worth of music, I’m now struggling to produce pages. The trouble isn’t the story or the writing itself, but simply forcing my body to sit down, chill out and focus. What I want to do is get up, wander around and behave like a jackass; basically be a normal person. But that is not an option for me, so I do my best to follow my routine. If I can keep in step, write like the wind and focus for just an hour a day, in a few weeks this will all seem ridiculous. But for now, there’s nothing quite as strangely painful as plopping down on the futon, putting on my headphones and telling the story that is already in my head. Yet I must.
On the drawing front, things are quiet. My summer job is proving to be more time consuming than I’d expected, which is good for the wallet but lousy from a time management position. Add to it the need to make two drawings that have nothing to do with anything but are slightly more important than most of my drawings and things get even more dicey. See, I foolishly did a cool thing once and now, every few years, I find myself having to do more cool things. My oldest nephew, Tom, graduated from high school just at the moment I began my career in illustration. I took a break from drawing WWI soldiers for my first book to make a page of little vignettes of his life from birth to graduation. It was cute and everyone in the family liked it. Instantly, I knew I would have to do the same thing for every niece and nephew down the line. That was fine for Tom and his sister, Kaitlyn, but then Harrison and Carter just had to graduate in the same year, or in the case of this summer, Elizabeth and Avery. Getting one drawing done is taxing enough, mostly ‘cause if there’s a drawing that can’t suck, it’s one that’s going to a niece or nephew; but making two non-sucky drawings, outrageous.
But this is what I do. I think of things, then I make them happen. Sometimes, it seems like the greatest gift in the world, sometimes it’s just a modern curse. Hence my newfound delight in the concept of relaxing.