So… it starts like this:
“I know what! I should write and illustrate a poem! A fun, interesting poem… inspired by the likes of Roald Dahl and Dr. Seuss. I have always wanted to do this… and so now that I have the time and the means, I think I shall do it! Yay!”
So, I write the poem.
And, on the first day, I’m pretty chuffed with the result.
But… by the evening of the first day, I hate the poem so much that I’m mortified with embarrassment and I vow to never ever share the poem with anyone. Ever.
The next day, however… after a good sleep and a cup of coffee… I feel a bit better about the poem.
I read it to Nick. Nick loves the poem and encourages me to carry on. I brighten. Maybe, it’s not such a shitty poem after all. Maybe, with some tweaking, it will actually be rather good.
So… I decide to start on the illustrations.
And I start playing around with concepts and ideas… about how the “Hat” character in my poem might look…
And I pin a couple-thousand Pinterest pics for inspiration.
And I draw a couple of pencil sketches and doodles and ideas.
And I think: “Hey… that looks quite cute”…
But, by the evening I loathe my sketches. And not only do I loathe the illustrations, I tell myself:
“Jeez, Heather! Who are you kidding? Your drawing is so amateur and lifeless! Enough already! Do something else! Quit with the silly illustration idea… the poem is boring too!”
The next morning, however, after a rest and a cup of coffee (notice a pattern here?)… I think:
“Actually, that one is quite sweet. I think I’ll carry on and draw her properly”…
And so I draw this:
And by the evening… I’m pacing and swearing and ranting about how god-awful my illustrations are. And I go to bed in a foul stinking mood, conjuring up my next Grand Plan… (which doesn’t involve anything illustrated)…. and I curse my Copic pens and I have a strong desire to snap every single watercolour pencil in half… and flush them down the loo.
And Nick becomes the recipient of my potty-mouthed tirade.
And then I go to bed… and I wake up…. and after a cup of coffee, I think:
“Hey, the illustrations are actually quite cute… let me draw another one today….”
And so I draw this….
And of course, by the end of the day… I hate everything about them and… (well you get the picture).
On and on and on it goes.
This cycle of “creating”… this almighty swing of emotions from delight to disgust… back to delight… back to disgust. Feelings of confidence followed immediately by feelings of utter uselessness… followed by feelings of frustration… followed by feelings of optimism…
Wanting to share my art with the world…. and then, an hour later, wanting to lock up everything I’ve ever drawn in an iron vault and bury it deep under the ground where nobody will ever clap eyes on it… ever!
Today – I read a nice and positive article about “18 things that highly creative people do differently”. Reading it brought a wry smile to my face. It was such an accurate description of how I do things.
But as pleasant a picture as the article paints about us creative creatures… there is always a dark side too.
There’s the agonising…. the self-criticism… the love-hate relationship with one’s art… the love-hate relationship with one’s talent… the constant, niggling feeling that I’m barking mad… the impulsiveness… the gazillion ideas keeping me awake at night… the getting-distracted-thing… the easily-bored thing… the disorganised and scatter-brained-thing…. (not implying, of course, that all creatives function in this stereotypical way – but I certainly do!).
In summary: if I actually manage to finish this #$%@!*!! illustrated book… I will deserve a &$@$! medal for surviving the emotional turmoil that I put myself through… for every weeny illustration… for every over-thinking, re-thinking, over-drawing, re-drawing (and subsequent hand-wringing, hair-pulling and tarzan’ing manically between bliss and torment).
Every evening, I ask myself:
“WHY am I doing this? Why am I putting myself through this hell? Everything I draw sucks! I’m a useless artist! I don’t know why I ever thought I could do this!”
And every morning, when I’m all bouncy-bouncy… I say:
“Awww…. but it’s sweet, and it’s lovely… and it will make people smile… and I’m proud!
I think I’ll draw another one…”