Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Cartooning divulged

You know how some people get addicted to substances? Others form habits that make them strive for certain feelings or sensations, experiences, etc.?

Well, I guess I've found my first and only true addiction: I can't stop writing.

I thought that when I no longer forced myself to write this blog that I would no longer feel compelled to do so. Not true. If anything, the lack of decided structure makes me want to maintain the structure all the more. It's as though keeping this blog alive in a way keeps me alive, or at least keeps me organized. I like that even when everything else is haywire, when I'm wasting time watching The Newsroom instead of doing my reading assignments, that I can take solace in a quick blog entry. It doesn't bore me like a bland academic text, but it also doesn't feel like such a waste of time.

Unfortunately talking about the compulsion to blog isn't really enough for a full entry, so I think I need to move on. What will I come to? What is there to say?

Nothing has happened today. Herein lies my dilemma.

That's a lie. Things have, in fact, happened today. Nothing to report, though. I wish I had something ground-breaking to say, something that would justify forcing myself to write when I told myself I would stop. But I have nothing. My only excuse is that I have an addiction. They should put me on an MTV reality show or something. It's starting to become serious.

Luckily, it's not destructive. I guess that's debatable, but I like to think that if anything this benefits me in the long run.

Today, actually, despite being fairly uneventful in the grand scheme of things, was an interesting day. I would venture to say it was the first day that I've ever done work that is sub-standard and felt proud of it.

Maybe that sounds silly, but let me explain.

I'm taking a cartooning class. I told myself this quarter that instead of focusing on all the academic pursuits that I've already spent the majority of my collegiate career studying, I would try and create new (and perhaps marketable) traits.

I didn't necessarily expect anything to come out of it. While we all hope that when we start a new project we eventually learn that we are a virtuoso, a genius in some random field, it's unlikely that will ever occur. In some part of my heart, I know that when I started the class I hoped that I might discover some hidden talent in myself.

Now that I've been through the class for two sessions, I can't say that that's entirely true...nor is it untrue.

I'm no Mozart of the art world. I can't recreate the beauty of a Charles M. Schulz Peanuts cartoon. I am not the next Walt Disney (though of course I would like to be).

What I do have, however, is an undying love for this work. Even on the days that I feel like an idiot after what I've done - after drawing figures that only vaguely resemble human beings, or trying to create expressive hands and instead giving my characters stumps for extremities - looking back on a day having drawn I feel immensely accomplished.

We learned a bit about life drawing and did our first exercise in comic book-inspired storytelling today. I was ill-prepared. Though I've taught myself the basics of life drawing, I've never applied it in a structure classroom setting. I made mistakes, I worked through them. When I tried to construct a comic, I made egregious errors. My drawings could've been done by a three year old.

Yet I was happy. Thrilled, even. I was just glad to get to do something like that with my time. To learn and draw for fun. Seems a glorious existence, no?

I'm sure some people don't understand the thrill I get from this line of work. In the same way that I'm sure some people don't understand why I feel the compulsion to write every single day even when there is no external force pressuring me to do it.

The excitement I feel is entirely internal. It is something that I can't control, something that has little to do with reality. But it feels really good to be this enthusiastic.

I've always worried that when I grew up I'd find a job that I hate and get stuck doing it. That's what happened to my mom and while she made a good living, she never felt happy going into work. I'm glad to know that I'm studying and plan to pursue work that inspires and enthuses me. No matter what field I pursue - be it writing or film or some sort of artistic production - I'm going to be happy doing it.

I think part of my happiness tonight was in knowing that I had the resolve to go on. Through the mistakes, through the making a fool of myself (on occasion, though the life drawing did end up quite well), I was happy to keep going. And I'm happy to go on after this and see where my class takes me.

We all have our strengths and our weaknesses, the talents we have and the skills we gain. It's up to us, though, if we pursue any or all of those abilities. And mark my words, I'm not letting any of mine pass me by.

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