I told her I’d only send my manuscript if she was ruthlessly honest. The next three years of my life could hang in the balance, and this was no time for subtlety.
“What you have here are three different books. Can they be cohered into one graphic novel? It’s possible, but, ultimately, I think that’s far more trouble than it’s worth. More importantly, it doesn’t feel like that’s what the books want. I think they are their own things, and what follows are my thoughts on each of them…”
Thus began the three-page single-spaced critique of my graphic novel.
In the days after receiving this, I went though old journals and added up the time spent working on this book. While doing so, I noticed some interesting things. For instance: This book was conceived the day after the woman I foresaw spending a lifetime with exited my existance. I observed how in the weeks following, I threw myself into the project, working on it five, six hours per day, like a man desperately trying to establish a purpose, a new identity, after having his world turned upside-down.
I also noticed how as time went on, I worked on it less, until last Spring I ceased to work on it at all. The problem with continuing is: I’m no longer compelled like I once was. In fact, the prospect of returning to the book resembles a joyless chore, and while I once firmly believed that an artist must suffer for their art, I choose not to believe this anymore. I choose to live a joyful existence.
The hermit of my book would balk at this. Sorry bub.
The fact of the matter is: I’m a different person now than I was two years ago. My mistake was making this book too ambitious, requiring so much time to complete, its initial emotional catalyst couldn’t carry it though to completion. Had I narrowed the subject matter and made the book a quarter or half as long, I would have something complete right now.
I was ignorant when I began; uncertain of how much time and energy it takes to create a book. Now I know.
700.3 hours. Seven-hundred point three hours is what it costs to get half a book. If you add the life-drawing sessions, the Prince Paupers, the Portland comics, and all the others, I’ve probably spent a thousand hours drawing in the past two years. Catharsis has never been so productive.
So it is with gratitude I place this book upon the shelf, believing with all my heart:
nothing is wasted; everything, a lesson.
Special thanks goes out to Sarah, who provided an incredibly thoughtful analysis of my manuscript.