Novel writing vs. drawing classes; facing fear, ignoring discipline... or something else?

'Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway' Susan Jeffers31 thousand words is a solid start if you're finally writing your novel. I was doing that, but then came the big long break: at a little more than 31,000 words.

This little technicality comes up these days. It's mentioned when people who know me hear I've been considering drawing classes.

It's not like I'm trying to master painting faces, like Jolie Guillebeau is. But still, this nagging whisper that it's time to finally learn to draw? It is about faces. Ever since I rediscovered the Sabrina Ward Harrison book, Spilling Open, there's been a companion memory of how strongly I've always wished to be able to draw. And not just draw anything (which I also want,) but specifically, I have always wanted to draw faces. Confidently. Spilling Open (subtitled "The Art of Becoming Yourself") is a poetic cacophony of colors, textures, words and images. She draws faces. Probably they're painted, too. But it's seeing those faces in the midst of these visual journals of hers that planted this fresh seed for me.

Writing has never been a problem for me. And so the novel? I know the novel will happen. When the time is right, I will sit back down and begin the regular process of weaving this story that lives in me and will one day be read by many.

But the drawing? As a woman who doesn't even believe people should go around saying I Can't, these words have most often been associated with drawing. "I can't draw." It's a fact. But of course all my artist friends tell me it's the easiest thing in the world to do. And they break into these lovely stories, weaving their explanations about this or that minor technicality I'd have to overcome in order to become She Who Draws.

These new watercolors are a part of this larger whole: the idea of making collages has planted itself in my mind. Some elements were missing, so I painted some pieces in order to have the imagined colors and textures. Piece of cake, turns out. But the faces? I don't know why I feel the need to be able to draw faces in order to create these mixed media pieces. But I do.

And so first I'll have to hold a pencil in my hand, and learn to see an apple or a can of pencils or a mug of coffee. Isn't that what the beginning students have to do first? Then they get to move up to faces, once they've learned to really see? That's how it unfolds in my imagination, anyway.

And I'm scared.

Maybe that's why I want to do this so badly right now, instead of continuing to write. I want to follow that advice people so often throw around, "Feel the fear and do it anyway," (which, until this minute, I didn't know is attributed to Susan Jeffers, who used this as her book title, but now I do!) because until now, nothing has ever brought me to the place of being willing to face my fear of drawing. I am not afraid of writing a novel. You, dear reader, might argue with me and say that the fact that I am not currently moving forward with my novel is a clear indication that I am, in fact, afraid of it. I would argue back with you, of course, and tell you it's about timing and prioritizing and most of the time these days I'm either working or doing other things that seem to matter more to me in various moments. So you'd likely be right if you threw out the word "discipline," but I don't think it's fear.

Still: I am afraid to try and draw. Afraid of what? Upon honest reflection: I'm very much afraid that I'll take a class, then another one, and another, but no amount of guidance will be able to turn me into a woman who can, in fact, draw. And right now, in spite of that fear? I've finally arrived at the space from which I can say, "Let me try anyway and just see what happens. No matter what."

So this is my justification for such emphasis on drawing classes instead of resuming work on my novel just now. If there are only so many hours in a week that one might devote to external creative endeavors, one can't paint and draw and write while keeping up with a typical work load. One has to choose one or the other, right? At the moment, it feels more important to me to choose drawing, so I can then choose the collages and one day return to the novel.


I recently told my dad that the novel isn't about me. He said something along the lines of, "I imagine you'll find it's more about you than you realized." Which is funny today as I just remembered a story line within my notes in which Holly (my main character,) starts making these big, bold collages as a therapeutic process during a challenging turning point. I'd forgotten this completely. The idea was conceived last year and I'd sketched out the scene in my notes then promptly forgot about it.

The magical intertwining of life and art is fascinating to me...