Resolution: Writing

Can you even get typewriters anymore?
To be honest, the shirt and tie is probably the most unrealistic part of this whole scenario.

Welcome to Resolutions Week!  It’s a series where I discuss what I want to happen/hope will happen during the year of 2016.  And today’s topic: writing!

Yay…

So, back in college, when I was in the midst of discovering that art school was doing nothing more than crushing my soul, I took a mandatory writing class for the Honors college that reignited something in me that I hadn’t felt for a while: a love for writing.  A chance to express myself in a different means, to get out all that frustration concerning what I was going through at that time.  And damn, did it help/make people worry about my mental state/wonder about art school in general.  So, at the end of that semester, I decided to pick up writing as a minor, to counterbalance art school – which, side note, turned out to be a requirement for the Honors college.  Having a minor, I mean.  Didn’t even realize that until later.

Then, when I realized that art school was never going to get better, I switched over to English, which sort of allowed me to focus more on that writing skill that I had let atrophy in the meantime.  I was so focused on art for the longest time, that writing just fell by the wayside.  I had taken creative writing way back in Middle School and loved it.  But then art just took over, and I ignored writing.  To be honest, one regret that I do have is not taking a writing class in high school.  Who knows what would’ve happened had I focused on that instead of, I don’t know, taken photography or continued on with art?  Might’ve been one of the few guys there, but I was already one of the few guys in both photography and art, so, what would’ve been the difference, really.

Loved the writing classes I took in college for the most part.  I took one short story writing class for three semesters because the professor was awesome, and my writing really improved.  Took a few non-fiction writing courses, a poetry course (and discovered that I’m not exactly poet material, but eh) – overall, a rewarding experience.  Once I graduated, though, I stopped.  Like my art, I started to ignore it, or refused to do it completely.  Instead, I decided to indulge in my anxiety, letting all those thoughts and criticisms take over and obliterate any thought I had about continuing forward.  And I didn’t even know what I was supposed to be writing!  Should I have started on that novel?  More short stories?  What was the point?

Over the past year, my drawing, as you can see, has roared back full force.  It’s even improved a bit, considering I was so out of practice (yes, I do look back at some of the earlier comics here and cringe).  But yet, my writing has remained stagnant.  Yes, I write here on the blog, but I want to get back into what I really like: fiction writing.  Fantasy based, world building fiction.  I had a couple moments last year where I worked with a friend and actually got some stuff done…then got lazy.

So, that is one of the things I hope to accomplish this year: getting back into writing full force, and getting disciplined about it.  That’s something I think I lack in the writing department: discipline.  One of my professors, my creative non-fiction writing professor, said on the last day of class, “You have got to find some way to keep writing.  Because if you don’t, you’re going to not do it.”  Or something along those lines.  And he was right.  Man, was he right.

I’m going to try and start writing again, and this time, get a rhythm going, like I have with my drawing.  I want to balance those two things, so I can actually do them at the same time (WHAT a concept!).  And not give up.  Hopefully.  Because that’s not going to solve anything.  And it’s not like I don’t have the time.  I’ve got tons of free time.  Obviously, I need to start spending it a bit more wisely.

Here’s to 2016, and here’s to me getting back in the writer’s mindset.

Birthday Cards

Thanks a heap, Hallmark.
Thanks a heap, Hallmark.

 

Celebrated my Dad’s birthday a couple of days ago – happy belated birthday, by the by, Dad.  And I wanted to get him a nice card.  So I trundle off to Hallmark, and bizarrely enough, I found myself having the hardest time trying to find something…I don’t know, my dad-appropriate?  All I could find though, were either way too hyper masculine, really really sappy/mushy, or kind of gross.  I would’ve been fine with a decent Snoopy card, but I couldn’t even find one of those!

So, I did what I usually do in these types of situations: make my own.  Been working for me for years, so why stop now?  And yes, they of course had walruses on them.  Because if they didn’t, then it wouldn’t be a Drew card.

Maybe I could be the next Sandra Boynton and break into the greeting card game.  Who knows?  It’s sort of been there at the back of my mind, so, hmm.  Hmm indeed.

That Girl

Oolong is a funny word.  Could not NOT include it.
Oolong is a funny word. Could not NOT include it.

 

So, in the past week alone, I’ve gotten asked more than once, “Who is that girl who pops up in the comic?”  So I decided to address that this week.

Basically, this is keeping in tradition with the comics that I drew not just in High School, but dating WAY before that and after that as well.  I always had a girl sort of just hanging out with me.  In Elementary school, it was Anne Frank (yes, like THAT Anne Frank).  In Middle School, it was Debbie.  In High School, it was Jade and April.  In college, Alice and Kendall.  And now, Willa.

Let me explain.  Whenever I draw myself, it feels like I’m not drawing myself.  It’s like some alternate me in some alternate universe, who has a talking walrus and a random girl hanging out with him all the time.  It’s sort of the way I’ve always seen it.  Yes, the events are from my life, but it’s not me.  It’s a different, fictional me.  Kind of like when Stephan Pastis (one of my heroes) draws himself into Pearls before Swine.  Allows for a little more wiggle room when it comes to creating a comic, for more fictional characters to come into this me’s life.

So, yeah, this is Willa Olsen.  Welcome her with open arms.

Adulting: Money

Well, it was fun while it lasted.
Well, it was fun while it lasted.

 

Money comes, money goes.  And sometimes money has to pay for the fact that you didn’t take a turn sharp enough and ended up running into a curb which resulted in a flat tire and your car needing to be realigned.

This pretty much ate up most of my paycheck that I just got this past Friday.  Always a fun way to start out a new pay period.  And yeah, I’ve pretty much been kicking myself, thinking, “You idiot!  You stupid, stupid man!  Why?  WHY?!”

The upside of all this, though, is that I’ve learned a couple things about Adulting.  One is that in terms of things happening to your car, there are much bigger/dumber things that could happen, like locking your keys inside the car (according to my dad).  The other is that there is no such thing as extra money – something is always, always going to need to be paid for.  Student loans, car repairs, doctor visits – there’s always something that’ll pop up.  Which I think is a very key lesson to learn in terms of saving money and not dicking around with it.  That being said, it’s still annoying.

Also annoying is trying to draw this comic.  I still can’t draw cars, as you can see, and had to start over multiple times before I said “Screw it” and drew what you see here.  All in all, a very frustrating moment in the life of Drew.

Technical Difficulties 3: The Happening

*Shudder*
*Shudder*

 

So, I’ve thought about getting a drawing tablet for a while now.  You know, something else to thrust me into the modern age and possibly help me start my own webcomic, which is something I’ve been thinking about for a while now.

The problem is that I am not the most technologically savvy person in the world.  I mean, my cell phone looks like it has a bullet hole in it, I’m on my second laptop that’s been to the shop numerous times in the course of two years – I can only imagine what would happen if I got yet another piece of technology.  Maybe they wouldn’t stage an uprising as illustrated here, but still, there always the thought that I would break this new drawing tablet in some way, shape, or form, and have no idea what the balls to do then.  It’d probably involve some sort of frantic button pressing, maybe some yelling at it, then curling up into a ball and sobbing.

Maybe someday I’ll get a tablet, but in the meantime, I’ll stick to pen and paper, thank you.  It’s worked for me for years, and I know they won’t try to team up with my computer and take me down.

High School Sketchbook

Really, there is no other option than to set it on fire.
Really, there is no other option than to set it on fire.

 

Looking through my high school sketchbooks was…an experience.  A super cringe worthy experience that made me want to throw them all outside and set them on fire.

That isn’t to say that all the drawings were bad – there were actually quite a few from my Junior year that I would definitely consider keeping.  But for the most part – yeesh.  Some just should never see the light of day ever again.  No wonder I’ve never finished a sketchbook.

Finished Sketchbook

"Well I should get some kind of recognition!"
“Well I should get some kind of recognition!”

 

I have literally never finished a sketchbook.  Ever.  It’s always been, start a sketchbook, get halfway through it, somehow lose it/misplace it/completely forget about it and get a brand spanking new one, and repeat.

I’ve had this particular sketchbook since senior year of high school.  And it only took me five years to finish it!

Seriously, once I got to the final page it was like, “Holy crap, it’s done.  Like, I’ve actually used the entire thing.  Whoa.”  It was a novel feeling, considering I’ve met people who’ve gone through at least 2 or 3 sketchbooks a year.  Of course, this was followed by the thought “Well, now what do I do with it?  I guess just store it away for nostalgia purposes….?”  Really, I dunno.  I mean, I’m not going to get rid of it.  But, maybe display it for the world to see?  Show it off to guests and be like “LOOK AT IT.  GAZE UPON ITS GLORY”?  Again, new ground for me.

Anyways, onto a new sketchbook.  A clean slate ready to be filled up with comics and random drawings of walruses!

Side note: really, it’s been this blog that helped me use up the whole sketchbook.  The first half is made up of awful high school era drawings, the second half is all I Draw Walruses posts.

Art School: Critiques

Ouch.
Ouch.

One of the hardest parts of art school, hands down, were the critiques.  Nothing says fun quite like showing your artwork to the entire class and professor, only to then get it picked apart while you try to put a smile on your face and not melt into a puddle of despair right there and then.  No, I’d save that for my room, where I could sob into a burrito and watch Chopped for 5 hours straight, wondering why I was such a failure at art.  The professors would say that it was necessary for us as artists to grow and to learn, and all that good stuff.  It still hurt.  Every piece of art is an extension of the artist’s soul, in a way, so to have it get criticized – yeah, it cut deep.  I did go to Virginia Commonwealth Art School, which was pretty competitive, both for the students and the staff (which really should have been my first clue that I was in for a rough time, me being about as competitive as a marshmallow), so I guess people were expected to be this level of critical.  Maybe.  (I also think that some people were simply trying to show off to the professor, like “Look at me!  I can be super duper critical!”  I may have been that guy once or twice.  After all, you were based on giving critiques…)

This critique here was in fact based on a critique I got on a final project in one of my classes Freshmen year.  I can’t remember exactly what she said – I think I pretty much blocked most of it out (I did NOT call her a bitch, though – out loud).  What I do remember was that it followed me around for the entire summer, as did most of the critiques from my Freshmen year of college.  Let me tell ya, it stung.  Bad.  Bad to the point where I actually could not draw at all.  No joke.  My mother had to bribe me to draw, which I know sounds super pathetic, but it’s the truth.  I just couldn’t bring myself to pick up a pencil on my own.

The more I think about it, I honestly think that for me personally, art school did more harm than good.  Now I’m not saying that I didn’t get anything out of it – I did finally break my stupid sketchy line habit, and was able to try a bunch of different things that I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.  But, yeah, as a whole, for me, it was pretty soul crushing.  I couldn’t sleep at night, and fell into some pretty dark places, mentally and emotionally (nothing says fun quite like curling up in a fetal position and crying at 3 AM over my homework).   I legitimately started to hate everyone – I remember this one moment in February of 2011, sitting in my video project class, watching people sobbing over some video about a lion and thinking, “I really, really don’t want to be here, with any of these idiots anymore.”  Plus, whenever I went home for breaks, I did not want to go back to college.  I wanted to stay home and hide under my bed until next summer.

And not only could I not draw in my spare time without being incredibly self critical, I stopped caring about art period.  It was like, “Oh look.  Another assignment to get done.  Woo hoo.”  And that scared me.  I was always the art kid, taking art classes throughout my entire middle/high school career, talking about being a cartoonist or illustrating children’s books some day.  So to suddenly just say “Screw It” to what was essentially my whole life was terrifying.  When it didn’t get any better once I got into the art department I wanted Sophomore year (Communication Arts), I knew that I had to get out of there.  Especially after a professor (that I was scared of and couldn’t actually learn anything from) pulled me aside and told me that I was borderline D-level in his class.

So I did.  I switched into the English department, and things got…better.  A lot better, actually.  I got to read more, and focus on my writing skills, which I had wanted to do for while.  Although, I did have this weird habit of seeing people lugging their portfolios through campus and thinking, “Oh, God, art students.  Yeesh.”  Like I was better than them or something, for having gotten out of there when I did, while they were stuck there.  Also, I still couldn’t bring myself to draw, telling people that I was on a “break” from art.  And I did get this nauseous feeling everytime I passed any of the Arts buildings.  So even though I got out of there, art school still managed to follow me around.

It’s been long enough now that I’ve been able to distance myself from art school me and start drawing again.  The little voices from the critiques have thankfully shut up to the point where I can’t even remember who said what.  Thinking about them still hurts a little, though, in the sense of feeling that initial pain from the critiques.  But now, it’s all good for the most part.  And I do look forward to seeing where this drawing thing takes me in the future, now that I’m able to think about it clearly for the first time in ages.

Eye See You

I apologize in advance for any nightmares this may cause.
I apologize in advance for any nightmares this may cause.

This came from a memory that randomly popped into my head from 8th Grade.  I was drawing a cartoon character during Civics class, and for some reason, I showed it to this girl named Erin, asking her, “What do you think?”

She answered with, “I don’t know, what’s up with her eyes?” (Or something along those lines.)

Looking back on it, I have tried to give my cartoon characters realistic looking eyeballs, to some extent.  And they have always turned out to be TERRIFYING looking.  Almost anime-esque, and not in a good way, especially since I hated it when people compared my cartoons to actual anime, which I saw as an insult, for some reason.  It also seemed kind of forced and unnatural, like I was trying too hard and change my art immediately instead of letting it evolve naturally.  Those eyes always were way out of place with everything else I was drawing and, as seen here, really weird and wonky (maybe not this wonky, but close).  So, I’ve pretty much stuck with what I know – the “line eye.”  I love cartooning, and it just works within this particular medium.

Maybe one day I’ll get to the point where my eyes will change.  But when it does, it will happen on its own without me having to force it too much.  Personally, I’m impressed with how far my comics have come to begin with, since they started out with dots for eyes AND noses, and crosses for arms WAAAAAY back in the day (like, 18 years ago).  And now I just made myself feel very, very old.  Hoo boy.

So yeah, for now, I’ll stick with the line eye.

Drawing Woes 2: Electric Boogaloo

Feel free to marvel at those thumbs.
Feel free to marvel at those thumbs.

It’s the same thing every time: I finish a drawing, sit back to gaze upon my artistic genius – then notice that everything has somehow ended up crooked or floating and try not to throw my sketchbook at a wall.

Of course, it may have something to do with the fact that I have a tendency of working on a not-so-flat surface (bracing my sketchbook on my knees, hunched over on the couch).  My point still stands though – it’s annoying.