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Genesis of a Historical Novel

Monday, April 23, 2007

still creative

On Friday I opened up my project but found I could not face it. I've become gun-shy.

It's not the first time, of course, and I dare say it will not be the last. If I look into the state of mind directly as it's happening, what do I find? There is fear, aversion, and a willful sense of No, I won't! There is a primitive sense of exercising freedom, as when a teenager skips out of class, or the adult phones in a fake sick-day. Only those most lacking in maturity and introspection can do so with a single, untroubled mind. You must completely believe that you are victim and that the school/job is an actual oppressor.

Who's my oppressor? When I think defiantly, You're not the boss of me, whom am I addressing?

Or, instead of the defiant rebel, the skipper-out/hooky-player more often engages in some justifying self-deception: "Those bastards deserve it, after what they did to me," or "I just can't deal with it today." The rules are too inhumane and inflexible to be dealt with honestly; deception is necessary in order to achieve a just outcome. (The justice of the outcome being something that I alone assess--in secret.)

But who's the author of my inhumane, inflexible rules? Who's the boss?

After sitting frozen for a time, I switched focus and thought I'd try to think about cover art for my book: what might it look like when done? I pulled down my cardboard box of art supplies from the top of my built-in shelves over my old filing cabinet, and pulled out a couple of my old sketchbooks. I got looking at things I haven't seen in years. I remember when I used to do more drawing (cartooning mainly) when I was in my late teens, early 20s. Here's an example of the kind of stuff I did when I got myself a technical pen in 1978, age 19:

(Dang--can't seem to get this image any bigger. The speech balloon reads:

"Straighten out your carnation Bob. You're always such a mess!")

I found myself scanning some of my old drawings from that ancient sketchbook. My relationship with drawing has been fitful since school, and I only have two full-size sketchbooks since then, plus one or two small ones (which I couldn't find--must be around here somewhere).

I didn't come up with a full cover design, but I did do a bit of sketching and lettering. It felt as though rusty wheels were being pushed into motion.

"This is creative," I told myself. "It's still creative, it still counts--sort of..."

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it for now. Let's see how today goes.

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