Lisa took this one on Thanksgiving. Interestingly enough, ever since Viable Paradise I've been able to look at photos of myself without cringing. "Huh," I think. "Not bad for a Cro-Mag."
I've been going through it lately. The flu, the onset of my winter depression, a serious shake-up in my artistic self-appraisal, and any number of life-dramas have all hit at around the same time. As a result, I've been unable to function properly for a while now. I'm going to have to drop my classes, which is a massive bummer. I've just lost too much time to make it up.
But I have had time to think productively.
The big decision has been that given my financial circumstances and the state of the novel, I'm changing my priorities. I need work that I can do from my workstation; I think editing and copy writing are my best options. I've been planning on doing the editing program at the UC Berkeley Extension as soon as my novel starts making the rounds of editors and agents.
Nope. I need to make some kind of straight-job my first priority. So next Fall, I start the editing program.
I might feel differently about this if I felt more confidence in the novel, but I've gotten a bunch of critiques from fresh readers recently, and while they vary wildly on the particulars (everything that bugged someone, someone else loved -- this has been an amazing lesson on how little authorial intent counts for), the consistent complaint has been too much deadwood, not enough story.
So I've joined two classes taught by the popular novelist Holly Lisle. One is a free class on plot, the other is an intensive on revising novels. Hopefully, by the time I've finished these, I'll have a better grip on things. Tell the truth, right now I'm not sure whether or not the novel is going to be publishable at the end of the day -- but most first novels aren't, right?
So since my progress on the novel is going to be paced by the course, I'm going to be working on some short fiction. Of course, my recent sale is a source of inspiration there, but I'm also interested in using the shorts as a laboratory to test plotting and outlining techniques. It's all about the skills.
And I've been thinking about my art as well. I failed to complete my report on my trip to the MOMA -- long story short, I found myself respecting most of the work there, enjoying the hell out of much of it, and felt a jealous desire to participate in that world. But that desire was tempered by the knowledge that the work I've done that wouldn't seem out of place in that environment was not the work that pleased me the most, or the work that I most enjoyed doing. While I can pull off fine-arts stuff, I am, at heart, an illustrator rather than a fine artist.
So I came away wondering about what I really wanted from my art.
This feeling was intensified when I was sick and found myself unable to read prose, watch television, or cruise the internet for entertainment. I went through a few fever-addled days of not knowing what I wanted to do, and then I turned to comics and cartoons.
And I was strongly reminded of what had drawn me to learn art in the first place -- and why I've never actually done much cartooning and comics work. (Again, long story short -- I'm not much interested in drawing the same characters over and over and over again.)
So I've been thinking long and hard about what kind of art I like to do, and how to integrate it with my writing. I ain't gonna go into it now -- while I do a lot, I also talk a lot about things I don't do -- but I'm thinking. Thinking hard.
We shall see.