Ok, I said I was going to write about what happens when a writer decides to do Inktober. So here’s what happened.
I got tired and overwhelmed, and I quit.
But I started writing more.
Here’s how it went down.
Numbers 6-7: I’ve Totally Got This!
I drew these two on my first double duty days–that is, the first two times I pulled the inadvisable but unavoidable stunt of working both my jobs in the same day. This entails leaving the house at 5:30AM and not getting back until after 10 at night, with only my time on the bus and a handful of 15-30 minute breaks in between to call my own.
I now do this Wednesday-Friday every week. It’s quite draining, and I think in part it’s what did me in. At first, though, it was very exciting to wildly scribble within the narrow cracks in my schedule, trying to beat the clock in a fit of semi-masochistic self-assertion. “If I can find time to do Inktober,” I thought, “why, anyone can find time to do Inktober!”
Around this point in the process, something curious began to happen. Some time before, I’d stumbled across an intriguing bit of story in my subconscious called The Bear and the Butterfly, but after a few short spurts I figured I would probably leave it by the wayside like every other idea I’ve had since who knows when. However, after a week and a bit of prying into my creativity on a daily basis, my thoughts began to twitch back to it. This is how Number 7 came to be. The bear is Morton and the butterfly is Cecilia, and they’re two of my new favorite people.
I feel I must tell you, however, that the bear in the picture above is not Morton. This is Morton:
As you can see, they are two entirely different characters. Unfortunately, as you can also see, it took me a couple of tries to get his nose into the right place, and all of those tries were in pen. This would not do. In my attempt to cover up the smudge on his snout through the liberal application of shading, I completely lost track of Morton and wound up with–I guess Smokey? I found this rather disheartening. Anyway, it taught me to stop resisting pencil underdrawings.
Numbers 8-9: The Beginning of the End
These were both done late on the night of Sunday the 9th. By the time I was done with the Little Dancer, into which I put some decent effort, all I had in me was abstract doodling. As the swirligigs up top started to look like antlers, my thoughts meandered in the direction of a certain obscure and very disturbing French novella which also involves antlers, and things . . . got a little weird. The finished product was slightly less crappy than I expected, but it didn’t mean a lot to me, and I wasn’t convinced that it hadn’t been a waste of time.
. . . And the Rest.
These were all done as quickly as possible, for the sake of getting them over with. Numbers 11-13 were all drawn on the same day, 11 and 12 mostly on the bus and in very poor lighting. This is not to say that I took no joy in them–once I get started drawing, I always wind up becoming more engaged than I think I will. I even like them reasonably well, especially Number 13. But the whole thing had become a chore, one I was having increasing amounts of difficulty mustering the energy to accomplish. I was losing sleep and losing steam.
I wasn’t writing the story that was still teasing at me.
I said to myself, “Self, Inktober is hard. That’s not an excuse, because everything is hard. You’ve been scraping by on scrounged and stolen moments, you could keep this up if you really wanted to. But is that really the best use of your time and sanity? What if you worked as hard on what’s arguably the central pursuit of your life as you have been on this fizzling fling with the visual arts? Why don’t you take this new time you’ve found hidden in your impossible days and spend it working on that story?”
So that’s what I’ve been doing. A page, a paragraph, sometimes a sentence at a time, the tale of Morton the bear and Cecilia the butterfly is growing. It’s all very clumsy and will have to be massively rewritten one day, but I think, at least for now, it’s where I belong.