Meditations with Sharpies

sketchbook

It’s comforting to open the 8×12 sketchbook.  I leaf through thick pages, smelling the marker solvent on each filled sheet until I reach the cardboard nestled behind the last drawing blotting any seeping ink.

A kaleidoscopic melange of markers and pens drop from their unzipped case, clattering against each other onto the cheap pine table.  Squinted eyes and pinched lips from my fellow library urchins turn towards me.  I hear a shush from somewhere.  I try not to care what they think, but in the back of my mind I’m wondering if it’s somehow against the rules to draw with markers in a place dedicated to words.

airport

I don’t know what to draw.  There’s no particular inclination within me.  I’m lost, but not blocked.  Plunging my hand into the pile, I don’t even look for a particular weight or color.  Instead, I trust.  Creative karma will kick in at any moment now.  Uncapping a thick black marker I’ve selected, I don’t think.  I let it glide across the page.  It’s just a line.  One line to start.

I can’t rely on talent.  I’ve never had any of that.  I just put in the work.  I’m hard on myself, but not so tough as to censor the unpredictable so the critical eye is allowed to flash only for a moment.  I see the line is sketchy because pressure wasn’t applied consistently throughout.  I could give up.  I haven’t gone too far to quit.  It would be easy to just tell myself I’m not good enough because I’m not.  I’m not an artist.  Just a girl who loves to draw.

pipes

But I don’t give up.  I go back now with an eye for improvements, filling in the spaces that need filled and leaving some mistakes that don’t look like mistakes.  I know that sometimes art is as simple as knowing which mistakes not to fix.

A picture begins to form in my mind.  Not in its entirety, but I can see a few steps ahead.  I can draw other lines now.  Colors begin to look appealing.  I suddenly have an urge to grab a few more of them.  They begin to take shape as if saluting from a line standing at attention.  “Yes ma’am!” they shout, ready to accept the challenge I’ve laid out for them.

green fish

I double back over some of the weaker lines.  I don’t chide myself over shaky hands.  I was never meant to be a surgeon.  Instead, I thicken them up, or turn them to shapes.  I divide large spaces and fill in one division at a time.  It starts to feel good.  I’m bobbing my head to Rilo Kiley in my huge white headphones. The marker is just an extension of my hand now.

Lost in this microcosmic world of lines, I forget about time.  I forget about the mean library lady.  I forget I’m an adult doodling with markers when I should be responsible.  I forget I’m failing.  The questions of the morning have melted with the fog by noon.

purple wave

When the drawing is finished.  I can’t say it’s amazing.  It wouldn’t sell or show in a gallery, but I feel a sense of accomplishment.  I allowed myself to be mediocre.  I created something.  Maybe someday my mediocre efforts will improve to intermediate, advanced and so on, maybe not.  I’m no longer concerned.  I know that if I hadn’t picked up that marker to draw one line today I wouldn’t feel the way I feel now: satisfied, safe, happy.

Last week, my entire world came crashing down.  I failed.  I was denied from the Creative Writing program to which I had applied.  I thought perhaps that my desire to learn and my proven record of hard work and success would overshadow some of my inexperience, but in the end my portfolio, my novel that is,  just wasn’t good enough.  I could quit.  The evidence has been analyzed and I just don’t make the cut.

lomo tubes

But I don’t quit.  I accept my mediocrity.  I celebrate the fact that for once in my life, I actually shot high enough to fall and fall hard.

So, I twist up my green Retro 1951 pen.  I write one word.  Just one word to start.

pen

Songs of the Week: 

“Spectacular Views” by Rilo Kiley

“Strange Condition” by Pete Yorn

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21 responses to “Meditations with Sharpies

  1. Thank you for visiting my blog today. I feel compelled to disagree with you about one thing in your blog: you are not an “aspiring writer.” You are a writer now. In fact, you’re doing it well. Faulkner said, “Don’t be a writer, but writing,” but you’re doing both. Keep the faith.

  2. I, too, carry a “coloring book” around with me to seize an opportunity for expression when it comes by. I can see you’re disappointed about not accepted into the program. When she was disappointed by the rejections after her wonderful auditions, I used to remind my daughter that the whole process is actually very subjective. We never know what they’re looking for, exactly, just as they don’t, either. You are a gifted story teller, even though not everyone will appreciate your way of telling the story. That judgment, whether coming from you or anyone else, is a perception. It has nothing to do with your gift for expression. for Self expression, as well as self expression. xoxoM

    • You’re so right. Thank you so much for the inspiring encouragement. It’s surprised me how many people understand and are willing to encourage other artists/writers out there. I had thought that I was alone in my struggle and you’ve shown me that I’m certainly not. I’m going to keep on keeping on. Thanks as always for reading!

  3. “I celebrate the fact that for once in my life, I actually shot high enough to fall and fall hard.”

    I think that is the best part. I can’t think of any time where you have ever failed in your life because you hadn’t ever pursued your dream. I’m so glad that you took a chance on yourself and that you will not give up and continue to take a chance on yourself! I agree with Margarita about subjectivity in the arts. There were MANY times I did not get into a play, but it didn’t mean I was mediocre.

    You, my beautiful sister, are NOT mediocre! Continue to grow and learn in your writing and you will achieve great success! You’ve done one thing at least and inspired me to start a blog. Would not have done that if it weren’t for your passion for writing!

  4. Pingback: Colorful Markers | Artsy Wanderer·

    • Thanks for taking a look! My work has gotten much better as time has gone on, thankfully, but I always look back at old sketches and like to see how far I’ve come. I’m still mediocre at best, but it’s nice to see improvement along the way. Thanks for reading!

  5. And I’m sorry to hear you didn’t get into the creative writing program you wanted to get into! Keep trying! I got turned down from grad schools the first time around. The next year, I applied for a bunch more and got into several and got full ride!

    • It ended up turning out for the best! I got married, moved overseas have a couple of projects in-progress and I’m having the time of my life. Maybe someday I’ll reapply, but for now, life is good! Thanks for reading and sharing. It’s feels good to know I’m not alone!

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