I’m inching toward writing a new book. I need to keep my mind off queries and onto something that excites me. I am developing the main character, a fourteen-year-old girl in 1965 and I want her to be a creative thinker with a healthy vocabulary. She’d be a reader, right?
In an effort to get into the mind of this girl, I gathered some of the books she would be reading and wondered how they’d affect her. These are books I read and loved at that age so it’s a chance to revisit old friends.
I had the books stacked in front of me and I reflected on the titles: Catcher in the Rye, To Kill A Mockingbird, and Lord of the Flies, among others. They’re classics and timeless. I mean, sure, Harper Lee only wrote one book. But it was To Kill A Mockingbird. Catcher in the Rye still sells around 250,000 copies a year. What would that be like, to write a story that spans generations of readers? I read beautifully written, wonderful new stories all the time, books that may become the new classics.
When I was much younger, I tried my hand at art. (Didn’t we all?) I sketched a lot; drawing animals and people and flowers and whatever was in front of me. Everything came out looking like a cartoon. I can do great cartoon dogs and bunnies and horses. When I try to draw people, they come out looking like something out of the Archies Comics. Which is not to say that’s a bad thing. But it isn’t fine art.
I wonder if my writing is like that? I may aspire to write something dramatic and deep and poignant, but what if all I produce is the equivalent of drawing cartoons? I suppose I could live with that. Cartoons are art, too. And some comics certainly can be considered classic. I know what I want to do, always, is tell a good, fun, readable story.
Then there’s my obsession with age. My age, that is. Every year I get older. Does that happen to you? It seems to be moving faster now. I do the math. How many books can I write in X amount of time? Is there anything near a To Kill A Mockingbird in me?
I always tell people what I truly want from publication are readers, lots of readers, enjoying my book. What I realized was that isn’t all I want. I want immortality. Then age doesn’t matter, the eventual end to it all doesn’t matter.
Artists are kind of like vampires — we suck every experience to the marrow and we can live forever. If I have to live forever as a cartoon artist, then I will strive to be the best cartoonist I can be.
3 thoughts on “Fine Arts vs Cartoons”
Can I say a good book would be The Bell Jar? I think it was published around that time (though I very well may be wrong, and I’m too mentally exhausted to look it up).
I say, even if your drawing and writing ends up being “cartoonish”, it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Everyone’s brains work in different ways. Even if something like a cartoon bunny or a piece of writing can be fine art in its own way. Everybody sees beauty differently, and everybody finds themselves naturally better at certain things, even if they don’t always WANT to be good at it. I’m great at non-fiction writing, objective pieces, stringing together facts, but I would love to write stories and I have so many characters in my head. I’ve come to accept I’m just better at it, but that doesn’t mean give up on what you like doing.
Use it to your advantage. You’re smart and resourceful, if anybody can make a negative into a positive and shed some new light on how you can use that info, it’s you.
And I’d suggest doing some more art anyway, especially if you like doing it. Do you peg this girl to be a doodler at all? (:
I love you and I enjoy hearing about your writing process. I believe you can do anything you set your mind to, and I can’t wait to learn more about this book.
I often worry that I haven’t read any classics. Would I feel intimidated? Would I hang up my keyboard? I know that when something hits home too hard, I snuggle into the corner counting balls of lint. But immortality? God, yes! And readership? Yes, please. I feel no shame in admitting that I aspire to this. I think more people should be honest about their aspirations. Art is probably the least friendly of my creative outlets. I would love to be able to draw! And, wow, I could maybe be more influential in the creation of the cover that I want!
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