If you are a particularly astute reader, you may have noticed two changes last week. For starters, I did not have a Music Monday. Despite my rather large list of potential Music Monday topics, I’ve spared you from my playlist. I can read the writing on the wall. I know when people are not having a good time.
As hard as it is for me to admit this, my return to blogging has been difficult. I like writing a blog. But, most of the catharsis I used to get from blogging is no longer required. Hooray for me. I’ve grown as a person. It doesn’t make it easy to find my new voice.
Something has felt off. Something about this blog was missing. I’m ashamed to say I took three months to figure out what that was.
I do not consider myself an artist. On my best day, I might be considered a cartoonist. I’ve never let it stop me.
Very early on, doodling became part of this website. I had a variety of reasons for sketching out my art. Most of them had to do with money. All of them still apply.
If I’m going to pursue this blog again, the doodles have to come back. I have my reasons.
I like them
I have been doodling on notepads since I was first allowed to pick up a pencil. I have no natural aptitude for traditional drawing. I couldn’t use depth of field or realism if an entire colt of high school art teachers threatened my life. I’ve tried styles like manga and comic art, with varying degrees of success. Really, I tried to learn to paint and draw fruit. Something between my brain and my hand makes that not work. Somehow, along the way, I discovered a cartoon-ish style suited for me.
And I made it mine.
I have reams of of paper with doodles all over them. I doodle pretty much constantly. My coworkers don’t think I’m paying any attention in meetings. I don’t take great notes, but; I get in five or six doodles in a half hour.
I like the written word. There is a smug sense of satisfaction I get from forming a sentence and generating a visceral image. The poetry of language and the potency of syntax grips me in my soul. Nothing makes me feel smarter than finding the perfect words to express an idea. It’s powerful. Words are important. I have to take them seriously. Choosing the wrong word sometimes feels like the difference between life and death. Writing a blog post can sometimes feel like the entire world rests on my shoulders. If I don’t construct my message perfectly, I might spark World War III.
The pressure is overwhelming.
But, doodles. Doodles don’t need to be important. They don’t need to be perfectly crafted. I will never be Michelangelo or da Vinci. Sure, I might do machines, but, it doesn’t make me Donatello. My doodles are fun. It’s the only reason they exist. I like doing them, so I do them. No other meeting need apply.
And I need that balance. When everything has to be significant or groundbreaking, I clam up.
As a person who has literally been voted most opinionated and most likely to still be speaking after he’s dead, clamming up is terrifying.
But, I draw that little cartoon of myself doing something pointless or stupid. Suddenly the rest of the blog post carries a different weight. It’s lighter. I can see it forming in my brain. The words and comic easier because they are no longer true important. No one will look at my decent but amateur cartoon and carry away that bit of writing as if it came from on high, or from the pits of the netherworld.
Which makes writing them fun again.
Y’all seem to like ’em
I doodled my first doodles on the blog to have images to use as space filler. It was not intended to be a thing I would be known for. I like doodling and I needed images to break up my wall of text. My readers preferred the doodles. So, I gave them more.
Nothing in the above section would be true if it wasn’t for the support of you guys.
Without the doodles, my blog wouldn’t still be going after seven years. Without the positive feedback about the doodles, I wouldn’t have adding them.
The first time I made as a blogger, writer, or web anything came from readers asking me to put doodles on objects they could buy. I have never made a killing from my Zazzle store, but I didn’t have to. The fact some of you wanted me to put them out there so you could buy them was enough encouragement.
Last week, when I posted doodles in the article header for two of my three articles, I got more traffic. I am a web traffic whore. If something makes my audience happy, I’ll do it. I’ve done too much stupid crap in my life to be embarrassed anymore. You reward me with increased traffic, you bet your sweet potato I will do it more.
It’s just who I am.
The danger is in the balance
What I have to remember is the balance. For a while, this blog became only doodles. Then, because doing something over and over again makes me think I should be fantastic at it, despite all evidence to the contrary, I got upset with myself for not being at the level of a professional artist.
I forgot the basic tenants of a blog — the blog part — and grew to hate something I love.
I think I am in a place now where I am understanding who I am. The hard-won lessons of the past are sinking into my brain.
I’ve tried a lot of things and realize they aren’t for me.
I have tried putting all of my thoughts in a web comic. It was more work than I’m willing to put into anything I didn’t find rewarding.
I have tried being a political commentator with a satirical edge. I would still love to work for The Daily Show, but, I don’t want to do it on my own.
I have tried waxing poetic and indulging and the might every emotional whim. Even I got annoyed with myself when that went on too long.
These are just some of the things I have tried. Little pieces of each thing I’ve tried over the last seven years have clung but no one thing fit.
Except for doodles.
I’ve been questioning what I want to do as a writer and creative. My passion for fiction has dwindled to almost nonexistence. Once, I couldn’t wait to sit down and work on a story. These days, I would rather scrub my toilet then write the next scene. Even the ideas I get excited about aren’t consuming enough to keep me coming back to my computer day after day.
My passion is a writer is moving into a different direction. Write a 300 word scene for my work in progress? I’ll get to that after I shave the village of goat. Write a 1600 word blog post about socks? Are you sure you don’t want that to be 25 or 2600?
My internal compass has been spending for the last decade. It is slowing down. I’m still not sure where it is going the land, but, I know one thing. Whatever path I walk, whatever journey I undertake, whatever mountain I climb next, there will be doodles.
The doodles have returned, and they are not going anywhere.