Paper is wonderful! Recently, it has been replaced by the computer, which makes a lot of things easier and convenient, but it is not quite, quite the same.
For the last several days, off and on, I have been working on a story I started last January, using Scrivener as the editor. My Chrome book is also seeing use. And finally, paper and pen when I just don’t want to look at another monitor, or just want to go outdoors and enjoy myself.
While I am not going to go into what I am writing, I do want to explore the process of writing. As the title of this entry suggests, words are very important. One of the things I find so irritating in an author is a failure to provide a variety of terms. For instance, I recall a very popular recent author whose use of the same word within a few sentences has driven me to distraction! What is wrong with finding a synonym? In prose, variety is important, but in poetry, the repetition of sound creates a very different pattern, and so the usage of a word numerous times may be very appropriate and artistic.
This is where paper and pen can come to the aid of the computer-produced manuscript. I like to take what I have written and give it double- or triple-spacing. Then, stapled together, I take it someplace outside or at a coffee bar and sit with a pen to edit. I circle, I cross out, I re-write. In short, I edit with a different perspective because I am seeing the writing on paper.
While I love the convenience of computers and such, I also love the feel of a good pen on a piece of paper. The experience is physical and sensual and intellectual all at once. And it is a very real experience – just like we are trying to create for our readers.
When I wrote that last entry, in January 2017, I was still on vacation and filled with the idea that, yes, I could do it all. But I couldn’t. And I can’t. Work sucks it out of me, and what little time there is requires things which require little time – snatches of time – to do anything.
Doing nothing is worse than doing a little. Little things add up.
And it is darn hard to realize this.
I’ve been reading a book called Essentialism by Greg McKeown. While a lot of it is oriented toward business, it also talks about one’s personal life. Up front, I don’t care about my job. I do it because I need to, but it doesn’t thrill me. It doesn’t leave me cold, either; I really enjoy a lot of it, but my personal, creative life suffers because of my work hours.
And so, part way through the book (I still am reading it), McKeown asks the question: What is the one thing you are really passionate about? Yes, the overwhelming question.
For days, I pondered this. What do I really feel passionate about? What is at the core of my being? And what emerged is simply writing. Writing about everything, physically writing with a pen on paper, at the computer, expressing my thoughts. And with paper comes paint and ink and colors and words. And history and stories and ideas and the world pre-PC.
Little did I realize when I started this blog that Journey by Paper would be such an appropriate title.
Over the last few weeks I have been going through the supplies I have on hand and deciding what I need to replace or add. I’ve added a few new tubes of watercolor, some brushes, and a tablet of paper. I’ve looked through my books and bought a couple that really interested me. I added a couple of pencils, some black permanent pigment pens, India ink, rubber masking, and a couple of other things. Cleaning up and re-organizing the studio helped keep me from adding duplicate materials, as well as discard old things which were no longer functional. I still need to inventory my 22 x 30 inch sheets of watercolor paper.
Another thing I did was to set up this blog, and go through YouTube in search of how-to videos and subscribe to channels, many of which I have added to the links here. Making a video is a lot of work and takes time, but watching a video is one of the best learning tools. You can stop it, start it, watch it again and again. For me, this is one way I find helps me to master something.
Now, I need to get started at really focusing on this side of my life and do something. I have laid down some washes and practiced on different papers – this is all good. The truth is, I’m rather scared of doing this. The fear of failure is there, and in the back of my mind I hear voices of the past, of comparison, and so on. All people who pursue the arts at any serious level hear these – but the ones that really, really want it continue despite real or perceived challenges.
Cruising through different blogs, I came across this link from the Smithsonian. Jump over to it – it’s a thought on creativity in difficult times, as well as how one can create without spending a lot of money, which is what many a hobby can be!
My New Year’s resolution – intention as one newspaper put it – is to return to art and creativity as a part of my daily life. Ever since I was a kid, paint and paper and ink have been the big draw. The biggest problem with me, though, is distractions. Staying focused on one thing is not easy for me. The result is what I would like to master is pushed aside as too hard or time-consuming, or by comparing myself to this or that person. In particular, this applies to watercolors and drawing, but it also applies to so many other areas of my life.
My life style is my main crutch. I blame it for everything. My 10-hour work days leave time for little else. A 30-minute lunch where all I do is stuff food in my face to make it to the next task is another excuse. So my question to myself is what can I do to change my sense of frustration and of waiting for more time? More time isn’t coming, that’s for sure. Each second vanishes before it is even acknowledged.
Art requires thought, but it also requires just diving in and doing. I tend to get stuck in thought or stuck in doing, but somehow neither alone gives much satisfaction or sense of accomplishment. The two need to be tied together. Learning and practicing, thinking and doing, analyzing and trying again – this is the process.
Thus, my resolution: for the remainder of my holiday break, I will focus on watercolor and drawing. Once I return to work, my favorite mechanical pencil and a small sketch book, along with my camera, will be with me. One drawing at lunch. One photo a day. Evenings have no guarantee of time, but the long weekends do have that element.
Let’s see where this goes.