I went to see Lynda Barry speak last night. She was amazing. I’m a particular fan of her book One! Hundred! Demons!, which was the first time I thought — hey, maybe I should learn how to draw. Last night she talked about working on something arty and how sooner or later, that asshole guy in your head — you know the one — starts saying “This is stupid. Why are you working on this? Where’s this going to get you? What a waste of time.” She said she imagines him as a literal asshole, like some drunk dude at a bar peering over her shoulder and saying this stuff to her. And how, in that case, she’d toss her beer on him and make him buy her another one. Or maybe I made up that last part because that’s what I’d do. Not that I drink beer. Scotch, then. Anyway, check her out.
I’ve been a lot of talk lately. Waaaay back in July, I wrote this blog at Jeff Vandermeer’s website, thinking it would shame me into actually doing what I set out to do. Basically, I want to learn to draw, by drawing comic strips featuring whatever new thing I’m learning at the time.
Funny thing about shame — it’s pretty much the worst motivator. Even when it works, it takes the joy out of the thing you’re trying to motivate to do… making it so you never want to do that thing again.
So I made up every excuse I could not to post this comic. I drew it in pencil, saying that when I inked it, I’d post it. I’ve been working on a novel, so I said… when I finish the novel, I’ll post the comic. I have a new job, so I said, when the job gets easier, I’ll go back to drawing. Then I stated to convince myself it wasn’t really all that important anyway. I’m not an artist… what’s the point? Why spend energy drawing?
Then I remembered this thing Lynda Barry said — something something joy of creating… something something fear holding you back, something something where’s it going to get you? What would you say if someone asked you that about a nice bike ride? Where’s that going to get you? What’s the point?
So. I sat down with my favorite Papermate blue pen and scribbled this out. Just to get it out there. Just to have the joy and satisfaction of finishing it, of having it be something I did — however amateurishly. I’m posting it here. My first comic strip. I thought I’d learn to draw anthropomorphic frogs. See if you can identify the characters. I hope you can read my chicken scratch.
See… “Where’s it going to get you?” is a trick question. It gets you here, just like every other damn thing.