But one thing can be measured, for what it is worth: The Blog itself. If it keeps growing year by year and keeps getting traffic and at one time the Putin bots that now are my only regular visitors will be replaced by engaged human beings … then that is a yardstick for impact.
However crude and imperfect.
And I believe it is a better impact – given my experience, talent and skill – then I can give in this life as a social worker or a worker in a social justice organisation, paid or voluntary.
I will not say no to such positions if opportunity arises and it feels right.
But right now the point is moot, because it doesn’t really look like I can qualify for any meaningful position within the humanitarian organisations anymore, and as regards work for individual persons, e.g. as a helper for the disabled, I just don’t have that much to give anymore. I am not getting younger and the job is hard. And it doesn’t scale at all – so: Extremely limited impact.
But even if I could get a job in, say, Action Aid International I would still feel that The Blog is, as far as I can see right now, the best thing I can give to the world.
And that means that my drawing is free from that demand.
And good riddance.
I don’t need to change the world via drawing, or storytelling.
I just need to draw.
For a long time I thought I should only tell stories, including stories in drawing, that had some ‘higher purpose’ and would make ‘some difference’ in people’s lives. I no longer do that.
It would be nice, but I no longer think like that.
I have my web business and my temp work and a few other ideas, and maybe I can scrape some income from donations if I do videos of my drawing process and say something clever and witty while I do it. And maybe I can crowdfund some funds for graphic novel printing and do a talk live – or two – about my subjects. And earn an extra buck.
But I don’t have to live from it. I just have to do it. Every day.
But why does it seem to be working for me now – drawing again?
I don’t want to jinx it so perhaps I shouldn’t blog about it. Perhaps I should keep it secret.
On the other hand: It is such a … quickening that I feel it is almost impossible not to talk about. It really means much to me.
And perhaps – even if I falter a time or two again along this road – my observations of what caused this shift can be of help to others who are stuck with drawing, and not getting it done.
Maybe not the Putin bots, but I know you are out there – you who want to do this, like me.
So other channels, yes – like blogging and YouTube … I know they can work for others, with regard to getting an audience, delivering value and making money. But I don’t know yet how and when they can work for me.
And I have so little time to invest in those channels, given my duties with regard to family and earning money here and now to pay bills. Via temp work. Because there are no savings. Only debt.
So it will be a while before this clarity can be tested to its fullest extent.
But at least I know what to test. That has not always been the case.
I went to a therapist in 1999, when I first started experiencing depression. She told me I should get up each morning and draw for 25 minutes.
Get up early and draw before anything else.
She told me that – and other things.
I tried to do this for a while and failed at it. And things got a lot worse.
Not necessarily because of me stopping the drawing-routine, but I have always wondered.
Now, recently I started drawing again in the morning. I have an idea for (another) graphic novel …
But the point is that I feel really, really good about this routine.
And it wasn’t so difficult – the first week at least.
And now I can see results!
So I will go on. And see more results.
And feel more good.
But I have given it a lot of thought, and as I wrote the other day – there really is no choice with regard to creativity either. I have to follow what I feel, first and foremost.
If I don’t work for someone else and if this is not to be my first source of income – or more specifically: It it cannot be that.
Then I just do my best and maybe I will never succeed in finishing something, not even that – because I, for some reason, cannot get the right mix of self-knowledge and adaptation to circumstances … can’t get that right.
I may move closer to a core of truth, like: I really want to do a scifi comic again – and finish it.
But I will never reach that truth before I die. And never finish anything.
That is theoretically possible, absurd as it may sound.
And so what?
… truth is that it is just one of those insanely detailed pencils-drawings that had a certain energy a long time ago, but no longer feels fresh.
Even so I don’t want to forget it.
I want to use it as a reminder – and then as a motivation to start again.
With something that is just as detailed and has just as much energy.
For now this one is frozen in time.
Like a shadowy slice of the past – almost literally – that is just there, always unfinished and kind of broken.
Right before I myself was almost broken, in a whole other story of life.
There is a strange fascination about that, and perhaps it is okay therefore to leave it.
Perhaps it is okay that some things are reminders of just that.
It is amazing what imagination can be packed in a few blurry lines, which may look like Petrograd through the winter mist of 1921 to me, but everything else to anyone else. Or just lines.
Welcome to The Lines
But the flame inside me that wants to draw more is glowing again, I can feel it.
I thought it would never do so. I thought I had found a shelf for it in me and left it there.
But now it is glowing.
I should be frustrated, because I don’t want more change in priorities. I want steady priorities and as steady an environment as possible and the built something – finally – before I die. Time is passing …
On the other hand, maybe this is also a blessing. It sure feels like a very bright light.
So despite all the mess it makes of my carefully set course over this past half year … well, there it is.
And I will have to explore it and decide where it should lead me.
For it is a strong light.
After 25 years of trying to write a novel and failing I have realized, as previously discussed that that path is not for me. Complicated reasons but this is the conclusion.
So I only write stories now, in my spare time, to get energy. To have fun.
IF that goal is achieved, then I write to get read. To find readers. To entertain.
IF that goal is achieved then I will try to monetize the work, get it sold in a market.
IF that succeeds to a level of some significance I will try to set aside funds from the surplus to donate to some cause or other.
And I do have a dream of reaching that last stage. I really do.
But not at expense of the first stage: To get energy, to have fun. Never again.
If that makes me fail to reach the dream, so be it. It is not worth doing it otherwise. I have tried that too often.
And now I will go and do more dishes.
“So to me the creative process, the writing of the story or book, is the fun part, the part I desire. I love the process. So I want to do more of it and thus I end up being very productive.
I play one story at a time, story after story after story.
People like me are writers. Writers are people who write.
People who say they hate writing but love having written are authors, not writers. And they tend to vanish after a few years.” – Dean Wesley Smith
“‘Unfortunately I cannot show it to you,’ replied the master, ‘because I burned it in my stove.’
‘I’m sorry but I don’t believe you,’ said Woland. ‘You can’t have done. Manuscripts don’t burn.'” – Mikhail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita
IMO You have to do at least two things to ‘find’ a plot (and thus conflicts) in a story:
1) Put some part of a painful memory, a returning fear, a constant yearning, a powerful desire or any another resonant experience, fantasy or wishful thinking you have ever had yourself … into one or more of your characters.
2) Want badly enough to explore and share that particular experience with the world in prose, even if in a totally disguised form.
I thought for a long time it would help me finish creative projects if I narrowed them down to just one, due to work and family time constraints.
Turns out I get more motivated by having about 3 projects that I can shift between (but not many more), like I am recording an album instead of just having to choose a single song.
It may take longer, in principle, to finish any one of these projects, yes – but now I feel more confident that I WILL actually finish one, because I realized that this worked for me.