If I Only Had A Dream

The last couple of days I’ve been nudging myself into drawing some comics again after a season-long hiatus, an off-season, if you will. That’s mostly meant browsing my notebooks, taking some time to doodle, and reading through old poems to look for drawing-fodder. I’ve put a few together and am trying to get back into a posting rhythm on stimulusresponse.

One of the reasons I let drawing comics slip away, poetry slip away, and why I haven’t undertaken any major writing projects for a while is that I’ve become a little fixated (for the umpteenth time) with the idea that you need to have a dream, or a passion, or a Big Idea when you make things.

My traditional approach to making something (other than a couple of early [obviously unpublished] novels) is that I just start making it, stuff happens, and then I thrust it out into the world as fast as possible and without thinking about it much after that. Which works pretty well for churning out “stuff”, as I think I’ve demonstrated fairly well at times on stimulusresponse – there’s no shortage of stuff there. On the other hand, in my darker hours, I think to myself that I’m not really accomplishing anything. Nothing I’ve done is part of some larger project or idea. I’m not “exploring” some crucial part of the human psyche, nor shedding a penetrating light on what it means to be a moral being, nor teaching the world to sing in perfect harmony. Just making stuff.

I tell myself, of course, that “just making stuff” is somehow a worthy endeavour all its own… but is it, actually? The upshot of it is that there’s more stuff in the world and… what? I tell myself that if someone, just one person, gets a little chuckle out of something I’ve made, then it’s worth it. But I frequently don’t actually believe that. My gold standard idea of an accomplishment was that someone would read my writing (a novel in those days) while reclining in the bath drinking tea and thinking to themselves that this was living and learning. Which doesn’t translate so well to digital comics, since people don’t usually read them in the path.

The other thing about being one of those people I presume have a Big Idea they’re working with is that I assume at some level that it would make making things a lot easier. Because you’d know what the point was and the work would stem from that. It would also, in the spirit of the Meta-Aesthetics of Artists stuff, also give you this kind of gritty, hard-liner chic. A lone man with a wild beard working on his Idea! And damn the consequences!

Of course, the truth is more likely to be more complex. Probably a lot of people don’t realise the ideas they have until they return to their work and think, “so that’s what I was doing”. Many of the people who do seem to have ideas are potentially retro-fitting intensions and intelligence onto things they created instinctually. And, of course, even if you do have a Big Idea in mind, I’m sure it doesn’t make “making” any easier than it ever it. Still blood from a stone except when it’s not.

As ever, there’s no solution. I still hanker after a passion and a drive I don’t see myself as having, but when I’m being realistic I don’t think it would make that much difference anyway. Either way I’d be sitting at the kitchen table with a computer and a tablet and infinite potential and no clear ideas.

So it goes.

7 May 2011
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