May 23, 2004
Some ten years ago I read a great book, called The Artist’s Way. The author said a very impactful thing—“Write every day, without hope, without despair.”
As a cartoonist-illustrator with big ambitions in the graphic novel arena, this was a profound suggestion and since writing was, at that time, my weakest link in the comic book equation, I took the advice, and proceeded to write every day, without despair, and certainly without hope. At first it felt forced and goofy (“I don’t feel like writing. . . well, okay, write that, I ,em>don’t feel like writing!”). but eventually the words began flowing out with little prompting. It really is like exercising or lifting weights. If you exercise the muscle, it will get stronger.
Fast forward to the present and I find myself writing all the time, every day. It’s quite rewarding and I feel somewhat competent in spite of my copy editor’s constant eye-rolling (while, no doubt, trying to make sense of this paragraph).
Ironies of ironies: what I lost in the transition was the time and the discipline to draw. Ouch! One of the reasons I bought True West was to have an outlet for my art. Sounds kind of silly, but it’s true.
“So, Mr. Bell, if you’ll write us a check for $350,000, you will own the right to publish almost anything you damn well please.”
“Wow! That’s a great deal! Where do I sign!?”
The only problem—now I don’t have time to draw. I do plenty of writing, and every weekday is taken up with the business of business and editorial, which invariably involves writing copy, editorials, Classic Gunfights, e-mails, etc. I actually enjoy the process and the writing, but I miss drawing. I’ve tried to carve out the weekends for art, but invariably what happens is it takes me all weekend to get the cobwebs out of my skill set, and I hit second gear at about four o’clock on Sunday afternoon, but by then it’s time to get ready for work on Monday. And so it goes, week after week, month after month.
This morning I woke up with a novel idea. “Hey, I need to draw every day, without hope, without despair.”
It’s all balance, isn’t it? For everything I’ve gained, I’ve lost something. . .
And speaking of balance and self-actualization, yesterday afternoon, Kathy and I met the Glenns, Julie F. and Lisa Wines at the Valley Art Theatre in Tempe to see a movie that is breaking attendance records everywhere it’s showing (Someone said it’s only been released in about five markets, in small theatres). It’s called What The (bleep) Do We Know? and it’s a clever docudrama impregnated with state-of-the-art cellular animation right out of high school health class. It’s all about quantum physics and the meaning of life. It’s quite a thought provoking exercise although it’s not going to be comforting to organized religious types. There were lots of old hippies and new age types lined up outside. In fact, one of the bastards sat in my seat!
Afterwards we drove down to Guadalupe to a classic little Mexican food place that Lisa Wines found with the unlikely name of San Diego Bay Restaurant. Had a Corona, a seviche tostado and the Sonoran carne asada, Mexican soccer on the tele, Spanish speaking waitresses. Muy Bien! ($33 cash, includes tip).
“It is ironic that one of the few things in this life over which we have total control is our attitudes, and yet most of us live our entire life behaving as though we had no control whatsoever.”
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