Wednesday, June 9, 2010

I don't know what to say.

I've been feeling terribly guilty about the rather inert state of this blog, lately. Well, maybe not lately--does the last four months count as lately? It's been awhile.

But while I've been feeling terribly guilty about not posting stuff here, I apparently don't feel guilty enough to, you know, post much. There are several reasons for this, among them:

-I've been in a really bleak place since December, and it's not the kind of bleak I normally indulge in. It's not something I can enjoy ironically or want to make light of. There's no fun in it, and if there's no fun, I don't really want to randomly inflict it on anyone who might stumble across this blog. And seeing as I don't, with one exception I can recall, lock posts, that's The Big Thing I'd be writing about off the table. There are, of course, smaller things I could be writing about, but...

-A lot of those things are other peoples' business and I shouldn't discuss them in public even though I'd kind of like to because I think I might be able to work some stuff out in this format and, for whatever reason, I don't actively keep a private journal. (The reason is probably that I did keep one when I was younger, and reading them a year or two or ten later was so incredibly irritating that I couldn't seriously contemplate ever committing my unedited private angst to a form I might foolishly consider reading again at some point. You think I whine on my blogs? This is nothing. Nothing.)

-The desire to inflict stuff I think is funny and/or relevant and/or useful on the wider public remains as strong as it ever did. But the siren song of twitter has drawn me away from blogging. Blame The Future of Comics (I) Fiona Staples for that one; I wouldn't have fallen into that particular time-sucking vortex if she hadn't told me I could tweet without a text-messaging cellphone. (I suspect I knew this, deep down, and the notion that it was something best done by and for people on the gogogo was a subconscious safety mechanism, a way to avoid getting drowned by information delivered 140 character at a time.)

As anyone who follows my twitter account (@theAndrewFoley if you're interested, though it also {mostly} feeds to my facebook account and is compiled daily on my LiveJournal account) can tell you, I haven't exactly shut up when it comes to saying stuff online--it's just the form that's shifted. I don't know if that shift will be permanent, but right now tweeting feels a lot more comfortable than blogging. For one thing, in spite of (maybe because of...?) the size limit for tweets, I feel like I'm more involved in actual 2+sided conversation on twitter than I ever have on this blog. So, yeah. Maybe I'll someday summon up the wherewithal to write up something of length, if not depth, to post here. I don't know that that day is coming soon, though, because...

-In the aftermath of December's trials, I've resumed painting again after 10+ years of not seriously doing it for any sustained length of time. I always kept in mind that I'd stopped painting for a good reason, but I'd honestly forgotten what it was until I started again.

What it is is this: all things being equal, I'd rather paint than write.

All things are not equal in this case. I've never fancied myself sufficiently talented or of social grace to be a successful painter (success in this case meaning an artist who makes or stands even a faint hope of making some kind of modest living off of his painting.) The mural I'm currently painting in Happy Harbor's entry is going to easily be the most money I've ever made from non-house painting--and it's in a style quite different from what I do when left to my own devices.

In addition to lacking the skill and connections necessary for someone who paints the way I do to make a career out of it, I discovered some time ago I don't even really want to make a career out of it. Doing so would require me working on terms other than my own and the ones physical limitations of environment and art supplies foist upon me (the biggest paintings I've worked on since starting up again have been 3x4 feet, roughly a sixth the size of what I was doing when I had a sizable studio space to work in.)

The day I decided to make a serious attempt at writing a gallery owner visited my studio. He began listing off various things I'd need to do with my paintings to get them hung in his gallery--which, in retrospect, was fairly generous of him. At the time, however, I completely lost track of what he was saying in favour of visualizing me throwing him out the studio's fourth storey window. He left, and I said to myself, "Well, you obviously don't have what it takes to do this professionally. What sort of work could you do where you could take feedback without wanting to physically assault the person offering it?"

Writing is something I enjoy doing: something I, on a good day anyway, think I'm actually pretty good at doing; most critically, something I'm not so emotionally invested in that I become inflexible; something I can happily (or at least willingly) approach as craft rather than art.

Over the past few years, I've gotten some really stupid notes on stuff I've written (I've also gotten a ton of notes that have made me a better writer in general and a better commercial writer in particular, but we're not talking about that right now).

Q: How many Hollywood producers does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: One, but does it have to be a lightbulb?

Most of those notes were intended to make whatever I was working on more commercially viable, which in practice means I was being asked to respond to the concerns of people who hadn't actually read the work yet.

Q: How many writers does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: Change the lightbulb? But the lightbulb's THE BEST PART!

For the most part, I've tried to address those notes as best I can, with a minimum of fuss, because I want to be a professional writer. (BTW, that raucous laughter you can hear? That's every manager or editor who's ever been subjected to my neurotic e-mail ramblings. I appreciate the patience, guys.)

Generally speaking, my blogging activity--while it might potentially be useful professionally (I don't think it actually has been in the five or six years I've been doing it, but in theory...)--has been me Writing for Fun.

What I've rediscovered over the last few months is that, for me, painting is more fun than writing. And I think that that, more than anything else, is the core reason for my lack of blogging activity. It's the work of a couple seconds to maybe a minute to tweet something; I've currently been writing this post about how I'm not posting anything for more than an hour.

That's an hour I could have spent writing something that might generate some kind income down the line. I'm currently picking away at a story (haven't decided if it's a movie or a comic yet) that I feel has a lot of commercial potential, while waiting for notes from my managers on another screenplay they think has some kind of potential. It's also an hour I could have spent painting. The former is something I feel I ought be doing, the latter something I would enjoy doing more than this. Instead, I'm trying to justify (to myself, if no one else) something that oughtn't need justifying: not blogging as frequently as I once did.

I don't know that I've been entirely successful in that endeavour. I suspect I will continue feeling somewhat guilty about not semi-frequently posting some rant or rave to the blog for a while to come. Maybe when I stop feeling guilty, I'll be more inclined to write more here. Maybe.

The big takeaway from all of this is, I don't know whether I'll be blogging more, less, or at all in the foreseeable future. For a couple handfuls of you, this has been the primary way I've communicated with you for the last few years, and I that's certainly why I'm still feeling some residual guilt over the way things have played out.

Some have interpreted the absence of material here as an indication that I'm in a bad place. In reality, I'm not in a good place. But I'm doing better now than I have been the last several months. I've got some really good news coming down the pipe on the writing front that I'm pretty excited about. Even if I didn't, I'm painting again, which is something I missed more than I realized. I'm tweeting all sorts of nonsensical rubbish.

Right now, there simply aren't enough hours in the day to do all the things I want to do. Something's got to take the backseat, for awhile at least. And, though it wasn't a conscious decision at the time, somewhere along the line I did decide that that thing was this blog.

So I'm saying goodbye for now, and having said it I expect I'll feel better about it soon. And if I don't, well, I still don't know that I'll feel bad enough to take time away from painting to post something more than out of focus pics of what I've been painting recently here. That'll have to do for the time being.

Ever upward,