Sometimes it seems to me that like life is a big, irresistible wind: a wall of atmosphere that picks up this puny human and sweeps her willy-nilly through the sky. Plans and resolutions are mere glider wings, helpful for steering and some lift, but ultimately dependent on the way the wind blows. Exhilarating, but eventually you need to land.
I started out this month with a resolution, after burning out a bit from organizing and showing at the annual comics festival at the college, to have a bit more balance in my life. I’ve been a comics-making machine for many months now, and because I love doing it so much (and deadlines), I have been letting other parts of my life languish.
Like, regular meals and exercise. Even sleep. Visits with friends. Gardening. Walks on the beach. Shopping for food before there is only one limp stick of celery and a dried up crust of bread. Doing laundry before I end up wearing the rags at the back of the drawer. You know, normal life!
So I resolved to put a little more structure in my days. Inspired by David Suzuki’s challenge to get outdoors for 30 minutes a day, I started setting a kitchen timer on my porch while I worked in the garden — I figured I could manage to put 30 minutes a day into my garden, get some exercise and fresh air. (As it turned out, I often exceeded that time, because I just wasn’t finished with whatever task I’d started, or I was enjoying the fine weather too much!) I started paying more attention to all the little details of homeyness, like making proper meals, and tidying away the clutter (towering piles o’ books) that had accumulated while I was in my comic-ing frenzy. I was doing it well. It felt good.
I even decided to put on hold the publication of the next volume of Mermaid Music, as the side projects I’d indulged in had put me behind schedule, and to meet the printer’s deadline would have required more than I deemed myself physically capable of. That decision was like a sudden shaft of sunlight and a breath of cool clean air in a dark, stifling closet (that I’d locked my own self into, I reminded myself). Hello, sanity!
Um. No sooner had I made that decision, than I decided to launch into a smaller, more manageable project, because what would be the fun of going to VanCAF without a new book to show? Balance? What the heck is that? The garden can live without me for a bit —it looks like rain anyway… and really, I love crackers and cheese for dinner… and I know there’s a clean shirt that fits somewhere in this closet…
What the heck, I love making comics. And I enjoyed every minute of putting together Takeout Planet. And I was even done early! With a weekend to spare, I found myself strangely bereft of projects!! Hey, why not make another book?!? Never mind making a nice healthy meal, or taking a walk, or going to a movie, making books is more fun!!! (You may detect a slight maniacal tendency in the punctuation here — just remember I’m a cartoonist.)
So I put together a darling little book of my drawings from the Opus Daily Practice Challenge back in February, skidded in to the printer with it, and was able to pick it up practically on my way out of town to Vancouver.
Why does she do these things, you ask? Here’s the thing: making comics is addictive. It will grab you by your storytelling soul and wring ink out of it. It will turn you into a mumbling, shambling art zombie wearing your jammies 24 hours a day and feeding on tea and whatever you can nibble while drawing. Seriously, folks, talk to your kids about this. And then let them do it.
Here’s me, at VanCAF, proudly displaying my two new books, and five older ones:
And now? Well it’s been a week since VanCAF. I’ve reunited with my garden. I’ve kept up my Mermaid Music posts. I’ve written a script for the sequel to Takeout Planet, or maybe I’ll launch it as a Quadra Cats webcomic. But I think… I think I’ll go for a walk on the beach this week. And maybe go to a movie. It’s time. I’ve landed.
I was just thinking about deadlines vs. housework etc. I have all kinds of writing and beading deadlines and nowadays some shanty singing commitments springing up. Can I count those as good reasons to ignore real life, housework, and all those other things many of people I know count as essential? I don’t make comics but I know I start getting severely dejected if I’m not making something. As long as I open cat food cans at regular intervals, it seems to be okay with the family. Well, that and sparing hands for a pet or two. Takeout Planet looks like a lot of fun. For some reason I am–excuse the pun–drawn to the Quadra Cats.
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I think the whole deadlines/creative-urge/housework issue is endemic to our profession! I find there is a point at which the disarray around me interferes with the creativity, so I try to keep it from getting to that point. And since I hate devoting time to housework when I could be creating (except when my hands are cold it’s nice to wash the dishes), for me it’s better to try to slip in a bit of that stuff every day. But it’s pretty strange when the creating takes me away from stuff I actually like to do, and could do if I weren’t so obsessed!
Glad you are, uh, drawn to the Quadra Cats! They are a lot of fun to write, and draw, too.
This post makes me smile; Congrats on the comic! Very inspiring, motivates me to try harder! 🙂
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Thank you! I’m glad you found it inspiring — just watch out for that whirlwind! And thanks for the follow — I’ll have a look at your blog too.
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Please cuz i would like a copy of each of your books . I will pay for them and would love for you to sign each one. Please!
Hi Ginger! I would love to send them to you! Shipping’s a bit pricey, though — e-mail me through the “drop-me-a-line” button at the top of the page and we can get more thorough with the particulars.