Sunday, November 21, 2010

On Slumping in Public.

Last night at a party my lovely friend (and talented artist) geminica sat down next to me and, despite not having seen me since August, said, "Are you in a slump?" "Why yes I am," I replied. It's true; I have not been drawing very much at all. I haven't felt like it, but I have been talking about not drawing a lot - with other cartoonists, with non-artisty friends, even with my therapist, who is actually the one who reminded me what this is called - A Slump! And now I'm going to talk to you about not drawing, because I am tired of apologizing for it.

First, why haven't I been drawing much? There are surface reasons - stress, depression, work, etc. But what became apparent as I talked to people is that there is a more ridiculous reason! And that is: I decided I was going to make money doing this someday. Like, it would be my career! I even told my parents that it was my plan, which was my ultimate downfall. Now the pressure is on and I don't want to draw a goddamn line, because every line must be perfect, a perfect money-making step towards my career as a comics artist!

This is, of course, all in my head. And now that I have found and labeled the fundamental cause of The Slump, I can start winding my way back towards what started me drawing comics - fun, self-expression, therapy. It has not been easy so far and has been complicated by the fact that I am remarkably busy for someone who barely makes rent every month.

Second, how exactly has it been difficult? Well - I agonized for like an hour over that scribble at the top of the page! I made a card for my friend's birthday that pretty much ruined my mood yesterday. I don't want to subject you to my bad-mojo-filled art! No matter how much importance I attach to getting feedback about it through this blog. I want to do this because I love it, I want to share it because I love it and I want to get back to where I was when it was enough for me to just be. And I will get there, because I am one stubborn, driven SOB, but I want you, dear blog readers, to understand and be patient. I still love you, but I'm not going to apologize about this anymore. This is my journey (I know I sound all hippywoo-therapy-BS) and you are welcome to come if you want.

Third, just what the heck have I been doing with all my time? Well, as I mentioned, I have been working my two jobs. My catering job is infrequent enough that the short, early early morning shift knocks me on my ass for the rest of the day and I'm good for nothing except napping and watching BSG. When I'm not working, I've been cooking and sewing. I'm working on another dress and also a bunch of purses for my gf's sister's wedding. It's not like I have become completely drained of artsy-ness, I'm just enjoying working in 3D lately. It's more immediately satisfying - I can wear the dress as soon as it is done, I can eat my delicious concoctions and I don't need to rely on the public - you - for validation, monetary or otherwise.

As for drawing - I did complete (and had to redo half of) a pretty large project for Sparkplug that took up a bunch of time. A word to the wise - do NOT leave your originals on the photocopiers at Kinko's. They will disappear. And yes, I did go through the dumpster.

Other projects: I have been really disliking doing diary stuff lately, so a new issue of Milkyboots will not be coming out anytime soon. I lost my steam on Just Sayin', but obvs I'll have to work on it in the extreme unlikelyhood that I get the Xeric. I would like to have two new zines done by Stumptown Comics Fest, which is ironic because neither of them will be comics. I am collecting recipes for another Food Stamp Foodie, because the other one was fun and well-received. The other zine will require some drawing, but I am trying to figure out how I can make it enjoyable for myself.

I have been in slumps before, of course, but that was pre-social networking and blogs. Now people who haven't seen me in months - like geminica - know that I haven't been drawing much. Now I feel that there are people relying on this thing I do, that started as something I was doing for myself. There are people watching me be depressed; how weird is that! It makes me feel guilty (which is not your fault, internet), not just because I'm not making money, but because I am letting people down. So part of the process of getting back to doing comics (and not just quitting entirely) is trusting that a) my audience will still be there when I get back and b) the desire to draw will return. But not a minute before it is ready. It will not be forced.

I let this particular Slump get pretty big. It leaked over into other areas. I have always been a big music person, but I haven't found a new band or song that I like in months. And I just can't get excited about anything. The fact that I'm traveling a lot fills me with anxiety rather than anticipation. I keep having to remind myself things like, "Hey, Virginia, did you know your job at a comic book publisher is really awesome?" or "Wow, you have the sweetest, kindest, most understanding and smokin' hot ladyfriend ever!" But the fact that I am remembering to remind myself these things is a good sign because eventually I'll get back to "Hey, remember how awesome drawing comics makes you feel? Let's make some right now!"


Amanda Flispart said...

I completely understand what you mean about the fear involved with the career thing. That's why I haven't started anything in several YEARS because I want it to be perfect. At least you've started something! I don't know where to begin! I have faith that you'll get back in the game. And maybe your work will be better than ever, because taking a step back gives you time to examine yourself and what you're trying to accomplish.

milkyboots said...

Thanks for being supportive, Amanda! Oh perfectionist tendencies...I think we'll both get there.