For my whole life there’s been this running gun battle between words and images.
The ability to write and draw with an equal facility posed no problems in my youth but when it came time to declare a college major I went against my natural inclination and chose visual art instead of writing, I made that choice based on one very important fact: Distractions are not a problem when I make images. While I am painting I can also:
- Listen to music
- Watch a video
- Carry a conversation
On the other hand I have to be sitting in a monastery to write. Well, maybe not an actual monastery, but the place has to be pin-drop quiet with no distractions whatsoever.
Even more confusing? When it comes to painting I freely admit I am not stellar material. I’m a good draftsman, a good sculptor and had I stumbled into cut-paper sculpture earlier I’d be rich and famous, but I always knew that when it came to traditional illustration I was a “B-Lister” at best. I compensated for that lack by working extremely hard, but the fact is that when it came to making images my concept always surpassed my execution.
I’ve never felt that way about my writing – not that I am cocky about it, just confident. It helped that during all those years focused on images I never completely stopped crunching words:
- I’ve kept the same journal going consistently from 1972
- I’ve edited newsletters in just about every religious or secular organization I’ve belonged to.
- In the service was the “go-to” guy for writing recommendations for awards and fitness reports.
…and I borrowed a tool from my image-maker tool kit. I work hard at my craft. While he might not seem the most obvious choice, Teddy Roosevelt has always been an inspiration for me in the way he fought his childhood weaknesses with hard work and a vigorous life style. As an artist I knew that my only compensation of lack of talent was hard work. If a classmate spent three hours on a project I spent six. If a competing illustrator put twenty hours into a cover I’d spend thirty or forty. While I don’t spend quite so many hours on my work now, most of what I publish (especially the autobiographical stories) is the product of careful craftsmanship and word-crunching.
It may be that I overwork my word-crunching at times. I do know that it slows down my output which isn’t a problem until I get sick and lose a week or two, at which point I start to lose followers as well. My original intent with the blog was to have kind of an A/B schedule, with the “A” stories extensively crafted multi-page productions and the “B” stories being made up of shorter more off-the-cuff observations.
Maybe I need an A/B/B/A schedule….but as I’ve already weathered the disco storm once, so on that note I will wish you a good day.
( If you were born after 1970 you probably won’t get the joke…)