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.
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.
I realize and remember that there is no alternative to hope.
Even if you have to wait to begin hoping for something better because your mind feels like ice.
What you can’t throw away is the awareness that there has to come a time again, when there will be a thaw. And then wait for that time.
The alternative is to wait for nothing, which is death, and that is not an alternative.
… 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.
This one I may hopefully be able to revive, too – some day.
A hiatused project called “Their Promised Land”, a graphic novel about the US Civil War.
A young southern girl escapes a raid on her home plantation by Federal soldiers and flees into the wilderness. She is helped by a runaway slave. She heads for the front lines to try to find her brother who is in the Confederate army, hoping he is still alive. During the road trip she has to disguise herself as a boy in order to avoid getting captured or raped. This is one such time, just after the Second Battle of Manasses – where she still does not find her brother. But lots of trouble, of course …
I hope to be able to do this someday. There is something both magical and terrifying about the US Civil War. And plenty of stories.
I don’t mind reviewing old art in order to ‘catch up’ to a certain date. In fact, I think this is just the right thing to do, if I am to go through with The Lines project for a whole year.
I want to feel like I never had to start it.
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.
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.
—it really feels like it gives me what I want right now to just do my best at making business full time as a webdesigner and then taking every possible moment of free time that I need this energy to do some of my creative projects.
And when I have the energy. Or need it.
Instead of creating a struggle between my business and my creative life.
Like that one about setting goals that make you feel better now…
That is a good one.
My soul wanted this for a long time.
But there were many excuses.
One of them: You are too puritan if you decide to be absolutely abstinent in the age of the Internet, even if just while home.
Puritan is a weird word.
But the question is what I am if I actually get to draw a lot of valuable and joyful and significant stuff again before I die?
If that is a puritan then that is what I am.
I like the word in that case.
And now, today, I felt again afraid that I – for some reason – would not make it. Would not draw all the things I really want to draw. Or write all the things I really want to write.
Very afraid …
And I think I know why …
I felt afraid because I was not spending enough time doing it.
For when I don’t spend enough time doing it, then … it is obvious to feel afraid: “What if I die tomorrow or next year? … Without having … ”
I see that now.
And I shared that.
I hope you can use it. I can.