Jack Of All Trades Or Master Of One? A Career Makeover For A Frustrated Artist And Mom

We’re off schedule today. Sam woke up screaming to be fed at 1:30 last night. It was a little early – she’s been nursing at 2:30, maybe 3:00 AM – but not a problem. I just pulled her into bed with me and let her nurse. But then she started kicking me in the ribs around 4:30 AM, wanting to be fed again. Now that is a problem, because I get up at 4:45, and I couldn’t figure out how to unlatch a baby who was actively feeding when my alarm went off so I could get out of the bed and get started on my day.

Naturally, I fell back asleep and didn’t get up until 6:30.

The entire day wasn’t shot though. It’s Saturday, so I figured I could relax a bit, sleep late (yes, 6:30 AM is late for me, unfortunately). Michael made breakfast so while he cooked, I snuck up to the office and worked on the dreaded synopsis again. I’ve only got a few scenes left to add and then I’m sending that sucker out to my writers’ group for feedback. With luck, I can send my very gay fantasy novel (remember, I write erotica, so it really is gay) out to another publisher within the next two weeks.

Yes, my writing is on track. Now if only I could do the same with my art.

I read an article in Salon about science fiction writer James Tiptree, Jr., who’s real name was Alice Sheldon. I’ve never read any of Tiptree’s stories, but that may soon change. The article talked about Sheldon’s inability to achieve her full potential in life due to various reasons, but one paragraph seemed to sum up the problem pretty succinctly:

With Sheldon, the nagging problem of her identity, who she wanted to be — a genius, an artist, a scientist, a writer — kept interfering with the things she wanted to do… if she had cared more deeply, obsessively and passionately about any one of the half-dozen types of work she tried in her life, she might have looked up from it one day to find that the whole woman had arrived unbidden.

In a lot of ways, I feel like this is my problem. I get tied up trying to figure out who I want to be, rather than getting on with what I want to do. And like Sheldon, I can’t seem to focus on doing just one thing. My mind is fragmented into so many different directions, so many different projects, that almost nothing gets done. I have a dozen different computer graphics interests, all of which I’m pretty good at but at none of which I excel. I must own at least ten different 3D programs – Poser, Bryce, Carrara, etc., but I’ve never picked just one to concentrate on, so I’ve never mastered any of them. And since I haven’t mastered any of those programs, I can’t manage to make the illustrations I really want to make as quickly as I’d like to make them, which means I get frustrated when the work takes so long and I end up abandoning a lot of projects (I hate admitting that, but it’s true). I’ve got plenty of ideas, but not the skills to make them happen. Of course, I could get those skills with lots of practice and time. But we all know what that means…

It means I need to focus. I need to drop the excess stuff going on in my work and just pick one thing to do.

I did it with the writing. I picked a genre (erotica) and ran with it. Almost three years ago, I joined the Erotica Readers And Writers Association and started writing just erotica and submitting it to the group. The end result? I’ve completed half a dozen short stories and an 82,000 word novel. I need to push myself a little more to get my stories out the door to a publisher, but I’m working on that and will continue to do so.

Now I’ve got to do the same thing with the art work. I’ve invested so much money in various 3D graphics programs, but I’ve got so little to show for it. However, the graphics program I’ve had the most success with isn’t even 3D, it’s a 2D animation program called “Flash.” The flaming header image and the sidebar image of the demon mommy and baby on this blog were made with Flash, as were the Cynical Woman cartoons and other oddities over at www.cynicalwoman.com. I’ve even made money with a couple of adult Flash cartoons I submitted to AtomFilms. They’re called “Stick Figure Porno” and yes, they are exactly what the title says they are. I know I ought to do more Flash cartoons. I have ideas for them. And if I did them, I could make more money and maybe get a little of that fame and fortune I seem to crave so much at times. So why the hell haven’t I done any? Because I get too sidetracked futzing with all those 3D programs I’ve got sitting on my hard drive, that’s why.

So as of today, I’m narrowing my focus to just three specific areas – Flash animation, writing and drawing. After working on my schedule, I’ve made room for three work periods during the day – one from 5:30 AM – 6:30 AM; one from 8:00 AM to 10:00 AM; and one from 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM. I can use the first work period for Flash animation. I can use the second for writing. The third will be for old fashioned drawing by hand, and that’s mostly going to be cartooning and comic book drawing because I want to get back to the things I loved when I was younger. Besides, the Flash artwork is only going to improve if I draw more, and if I take the comic book artwork far enough, I could start writing my own. I’m a writer and an artist after all. Why not combine the two interests at some point?

Since joining ERWA helped so much with me getting the writing done, I’ve also looked into other forums that I can turn to for info, feedback and support while I work. Haven’t picked one out yet for Flash animation, but I did find something for the drawing. And to further ensure that I do some artwork and get things done, I’m going to start posting my daily drawing efforts here. Here’s this afternoon’s work.

Figure study for 19 August 2006

I’ll be very interested in seeing how this all works out a year from now.

About Cynical Woman

Cartoonist, Artist, Geek, Evil Crafter, Girl Scout Troop Leader and Writer. Also, a zombie. I haven't slept in I don't know how long.
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