How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

Secrets of greatness: Practice and hard work bring success.

Two things you might be interested in knowing, both of which are obvious:

  1. Drawing is hard.
  2. Drawing isn’t fun.

Writing is hard. When the characters aren’t speaking to you it’s really really hard. But for me, drawing is much harder even on a good day. That’s why I do it.

I’m 30 now and I find there are a lot of times that something is presented to me — especially things that were easy as a kid — and I can feel my mind rebel. That’s hard. Don’t you have a calculator? Why don’t you just do this easy thing instead? You don’t really need to understand that. For a while, probably five or six years, I avoided thinking things that weren’t easy for me. It became a big disadvantage because I have this stubborn block against math. I’m sure it’s too hard for me. But I used to add and subtract and multiply every day without pause and now I don’t. (You don’t do many multiplication tables in tech support.) And I found that suddenly, math is just as hard as I thought it was, even easy math, like 9+7. When you can’t decide if it’s 15 or 16, well, you feel silly. So I’ve deliberately been relearning my times tables and a lot of addition an subtraction. Made it up to 13×13 yesterday. Sounds crazy, especially if you’re young. How do you forget how to add? Well if you don’t practice, those skills just go away and get replaced by skills for something else, like, say, finding the remote control.

The blog part of this site is easy. Write words, check grammar, submit. I don’t really try. I write what I’m thinking and ignore the thesis aspect and move on. It’s lazy writing.

But the drawing is really really hard. There are times when I’m stealing from my own art and thinking that all I need to do is move Marin’s arm from here to here… and my brain says, ooh, that’s hard. can’t you rewrite the script instead? Nobody will notice if she hasn’t moved in three panels.

It still takes me four or five hours to draw even the simplest of panels from scratch. I can spend two hours on a hand and still have it come out looking like a claw. I admit, I often try to avoid it, and just draw what I absolutely have to. It’s hard. But ultimately, I do it.

And now people I know say I’m an artist, I can draw, I’m “good”, or at least “better than they are” and I sometimes laugh, or sometimes get annoyed. I’m awful, lazy, and frustrated. Drawing comics is hard, and sometimes I even get angry at myself for doing it. But I said I would, and I have ideas I want to express that fit comics best. So I do it.

Doing what’s hard will make you stronger at things that are easy. Do something hard today. You won’t regret it.