Androgeny, 2016, ink and collage on paper

At six this morning, I was lying in bed wondering what ink drawing I could make to illustrate #1 on the Inktober calendar: Poisonous. In a couple of drowse cycles I had it. I’d draw a tarantula. Right, and baby sitting next to a tarantula, and the baby is holding a baby bottle with a skull and cross bones on it.

And that is how too many projects are born.

Inktober, now in its 9th year, was a projected dreamt up by artist Jake Paker. The idea is to make an illustration that tells a story for prompt-word assigned to each day in October. It’s fun. Many artist do this each year. You make your drawing and post it to social media. I love social media in October. (And no, I don’t love it all the time.)

After giving it further thought, I’ve decided not to do Inktober this year. I really should, it would be such good practice for my visual storytelling, but the proliferation of projects can derail progress in your creative work like nothing else. I currently have 5+ things that I am serious about and want to complete. I am fortunate not to have to fit in a day job, but even without it, 5 things, and a family leaves something short-changed all the time. You never reach a momentum on anything.

Believe it or not, I didn’t realize that I was doing this project pile-up thing. I didn’t realize it until I read Jessica Abel’s Growing Gills early this year. Jessica’s book is about finding creative focus in your life. One of her best pieces of advice is to lose all those projects you collect and that drive you crazy with their demands. Focus on one project at a time. ONE. One ’til done.

That seems impossible to me. I write fiction and make visual art. So at the very least I always have two creative projects going. Add family life, and life in general, and I’m plenty busy.

However, if you find yourself with an itch to draw and your projects are finished, sign up for Inktober. I’m looking forward to seeing your work on social media.

P.S. Jake Parker, Lee White and Will Terry host a podcast called 3 Point Perspective. Listen, you’ll learn a lot about the business and art of illustration.

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