Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Done and Done.

Well, it's been one year, 365 drawings, and now I'm all done. I took a few days to look back through the drawings, and in hindsight, many of the drawings I thought were terrible, weren't actually so bad. There are some obvious "I'm sick of this" drawings, but I think that's alright, because they're nothing if not honest. Seriously, I drew my roommates abandoned game of Sudoku, I think that was a cry for help.

I certainly have my "go to" techniques and styles, but with a little distance, I'm really learning to like a lot of the ones I felt were sub-par or almost habitual. For the most part, the ink drawings are my favorite because they easily slipped into my "game" mentality. If I didn't like something I could change it into something else, if I messed up, I shaded until it turned in to something new and usually better than whatever I'd been trying for. I couldn't control where the drawings ended, and that was really fun.

After a month, I wasn't sure I was going to be able to finish - I began to dread the word "drawing" as both a noun and a verb. It became progressively harder and harder to find ideas and so I worked really hard, too hard actually, to let go of my desire to make something, and to just go about making it. More than 80% of these started with a random line or shape and developed from there. It became an activity that I generally reserve for the classroom - doodling. I've always doodled, and I like to think that it frees up that part of my brain that is constantly trying to run away with my attention, but I'm not so sure that's case. It may just be "nail-biting;" an extension of the oral fixation I'm constantly trying to kill.

So, I spent a year indulging myself. It wasn't always pleasant, in fact it was rarely pleasant, but I think I had to make it that way in order to finish. It turns out I'm better with commitment than I thought, but I still need to work on the motivation "thing." Why do I need to feel like I have to do something, and in doing so, hate the thing I want to do, in order to do it? It's bizarre, and I think I'm not the only one who suffers from this. It's a commitment problem, but not in the usual sense, or maybe it is, and I just want it to be different. It's not that I can't commit, I did finish after all, I just don't really want to commit. Maybe it's a remnant of the rebellious teenager who only ever rebelled against herself, through the guise of her parents. Something to think about, I guess.

Once I learned I got in to Graduate School, I wasn't going to finish. I told myself that if I was accepted, I would quit when school started. As August 23rd approached, so did the guilt of my own failure. I was more than half way through, but barely. Each day, while I drew, I pondered the pros and cons of finishing. This is the main thing that these drawings have taught me to do: when you don't want to do something, do it anyway, but it's ok to spend the whole time thinking about how much you don't want to do it, or ways to get out of doing it. It's a simple way to overcome procrastination. I use "overcome" loosely, because we all know that the whole process starts again with a new project.

Does this mean that I'm not in control of my own choices and my own behavior? Sure, but would I have any more control if it was any other way? I am often paralyzed by my ability to see options, but I refuse to let that limit my options. It's a stalemate. However, these drawings are a testament to the method of going about one's business, while evaluating that business, and successfully completing that business. It's how I got to Vienna. I barely gave the idea two thoughts, but I filled out all the appropriate paperwork and didn't linger too long on the idea of actually going until well after I bought the plane ticket and took out a student loan. It's how chose to come to UND, it's how I chose to work in Iowa at that "sustainable living facility" read: "commune," and how I eventually ended up back in Grand Forks working on my Masters. Will this get me into trouble? Inevitably, yes, Iowa was clear proof of that. Any more trouble than I know I'm going to get into anyway? I don't think so.

I'm proud of myself for finishing - and that's not easy to say. This all started as a silly, little dare to myself, and really turned in to something much more - regardless of what kind of tricks I had to fool myself with to get it done. At almost every turn I told myself I could quit and I argued my justifications quite well, but I never actually quit, and I think the freedom I gave myself was a major contributing factor. If I missed a day, I did two the next. Cheating? Maybe, but if I didn't let myself do that I would have quit three months in. I didn't title them all, and at the end I posted several in bunches of five, but again, I wouldn't have posted all 65 or however many postings I was behind, and quite frankly, none of those rules were in the deal. A drawing a day for 365 days. That was the rule. My attempts at structure for the project are separate from the project itself, and again, that's ok.

I'm going to give myself a few days and see if I can think of something I can do for 2012. It can't be every day. Even though I was able to focus on school enough to get a 4.0, I often sacrificed the drawings on days I had class and did multiple the next day, but it created some stress I don't particularly care to relive. I'm going to be in school all this year and most of next, so I think every day is too much. I should start focusing on my writing, so I'm thinking a short story every month, or maybe a poem a week? I would do a drawing a month, but it's so different from my school work that I'm sure I'd just end up doing them the day before the month starts, and that seems like it defeats the purpose. I'm open to suggestions.

I hope you've had fun looking at the drawings, I used you all as motivation. You became my parents, forcing me to walk across the stage at my college graduation, even though they never once demanded it, or even understood why they had to come to it at all. Your encouragement helped motivate me by allowing me to pretend I was letting you down if I didn't finish. I got nothing but support for this silly task, and you all took it seriously, so I had to as well. I'm incredibly grateful for every suggestion, comment and "like," because they encouraged me to continue when I saw no point in continuing (even now I think that sounds awfully dramatic). I had really hoped to get to all the suggestions, but that was a little too lofty, I think, and now I have options for when I get a hankering to draw something...in about three months.

Finally, I do plan to give away a bulk of the drawings, so if you'd like one, send me your address and I'll mail it to you. Some of them are gone already, so it might be a good idea to send a list of 3-5 that you liked most, and I'll do my best to get you the ones you liked.

Thanks for a great year! I hope this one is just as wonderful for all of you.