I’ve been neglecting my drawing… pretty much this last year. Between figuring out what was wrong with publishing (TM) and working on the new process to get words in front of readers, and the year of the great travels (okay, they weren’t great. But they were continuous, at least a week and often two out of the house from May to September) I didn’t take any courses and I haven’t devoted much time to drawing since the New Year’s vacation almost a year ago now. An afternoon here and there, but not much finished and no concerted effort.
This morning, as I sat at the breakfast table waiting for tea to kick my nervous system into a semblance of consciousness, I looked out at the large tree in front of the kitchen window and I thought with the cold morning light and the bits of snow it would be interesting to draw.
I didn’t do it, and I’m still craving it. But drawing would involve finding my drawing kit (weirdly not on the desk with the pastels, I looked. I need a different desk where I can organize things) and possibly three to four hours making small changes before I have a halfway functional sketch. And today I HAVE to finish editing Darkship Renegades and a ton of other stuff, and I’m still recovering from whatever this crud was. I keep creeping halfway to wellness then falling down again.
But as I got up to put the tea cup in the sink, thinking “I’ll get to work on writing. The urge to draw will pass” I remembered a conversation with my dad about three years ago. My dad’s first degree is in art, but he had to do commercial art and then engineering, to put food on the table. (Pesky tables, always needing food.) I think he was always a little disappointed that we didn’t have an inclination for art, or that I did, but gave it up at 14 to concentrate on writing. So, I was showing him my drawings and explaining that after I got concussion 9 years ago, I got an almost unbearable urge to draw, so I went and took art lessons, and started drawing in my copious spare time. (And no, I have no idea how severe concussion does that. You figure it.) And he said “If you ignore it long enough, the urge passes. Now it’s gone.”
And you know, the way he said it, it was the saddest thing in the world. He used to talk about pursuing art and his poetry in retirement, but he says now (of course, he retired at eighty) he just doesn’t have the drive anymore.
And then as I was coming up the stairs, I was thinking I treated my writing like that for years, too. There was college to finish. And then – even with my husband’s support of my writing – there was work, and then kids.
I probably would never have pushed seriously – a short story a year is NOT serious, even if one submits it and works hard at it – except I ended up in the hospital with near-lethal pneumonia (11 days in icu) fifteen years ago now. The doctors thought I was going to die. I thought I was going to die. My husband was the only one who thought otherwise, and, as you see, he’s a very forceful man.
Anyway, lying there, contemplating the probability of death in the next few days, I thought of what I regretted most. Of course, at the time the boys were four and one, and I was almost frantic with worry about them. My husband is a wonderful father, but he’d have to work, which would leave the kids in the position I most didn’t want, in the position I’d promised myself we wouldn’t put them in when we were going through near-endless infertility treatments: being raised by hired strangers. I worried, and felt very regretful that they probably wouldn’t even remember me. I worried about our finances too, since these were the hardscrabble days, and while I was home I earned my pay in how I shopped, and buying furniture really cheap (used) then refinishing it (furnishing a whole house for about $500 and having it look decent is possible) or even making stuff. Without me, the family lifestyle would tumble down several notches.
BUT hard behind that worry was worry about my writing. I had all these started novels. And written novels. I had worlds and characters in my head no one else had read. They would die with me.
For some reason this was as unbearable as the thought of orphan kids. Which is why as soon as I recovered, I returned to writing with a vengeance and started treating it as a serious endeavor.
Have I sometimes wished I hadn’t? Sometimes, in the last four/five years. BUT now it’s starting to come back to what it’s supposed to do, and the rewards (trust me) outweigh all that.
So, what is this post about? Am I telling you to do it before the urge passes? I don’t know. I’m not living your life. For instance, I’m not going back downstairs to draw the tree, because I DO have editing to do. I will however make a decision, going into the new year, of taking at least a couple of classes and trying (my best) to give a couple of hours to drawing or painting every week. Because even though it will never be my main work, it is something that seems to help the writing (and vice-versa.) And because I think the urge is precious. And I don’t want it to go away.