A man with a plan...

Thu 12/16/2004

Okay, so I feel like I should do an "official" update to let people know what's going on in my life right now. A lot of you already know this stuff because you helped me make the decisions, but it'll still be good to explain, if for no other reason than the fact that it'll be necessary to know this information to understand future posts.

So my last day of work at Martha Stewart is on Friday. It's been a pretty great job, mostly because of all the nice people working there and the awesome work space. There is this giant crazy holiday party tonight, which I'm going to, with sets, lights, fake trees, etc. It was really weird because all these theatrcial people are there to set up the stages/flats/lighting instruments. This one carpenter guy sort of "sized me up" or shot me a weird look and I thought, "No! I'm one of you! I'd be more comfortable building that flat than updating this excel spreadsheet!" But alas, I guess I have crossed over to the other side.

Anyways, the point is, I'm done with this temp assignment. And I called the temp agency and told them NOT to find another assignment for me right after this one.

I've been really frustrated with the ammount of drawing I've been getting done these past few months, while working full time. By the time I get out of work, take the subway home and make myself dinner, eat it and then wash up it, is usually about 8pm. So I squeeze in 2 or 3 hours of drawing each night (sometimes not even that much) and then go to sleep. I know, I know...to some people that probably sounds like a lot, but really, for me and the pages I'm working on, IT'S NOT. Especially since there is a certain ammount of INERTIA involved in drawing Comics. Drawing for 4 hours in a row is TOTALLY DIFFERENT (ie BETTER) than drawing 2 hours one night and 2 the next. Once you get into the page, things come more easily, more quickly. But with such a small ammount of time to draw each night, I usually spend the first 30 minutes just trying to tune out all the crap from the day and FOCUS on what I'm drawing.

Also, because I feel like I'm not getting enough drawn during the week, my weekends have turned into drawing-fests. I run errands (groceries, laundry, returning stuff to the library, dry cleaning, depositing my check at the bank, mailing stuff) and then DRAW. I still don't get as much done as I need to (I want/need to get a page done a week, which has NOT been happening, not by a LONG shot) and also I "lose" most of my weekend! I've totally stopped exploring New York, which is LAME in and of itself, but also my sketchbooks have totally dried up. I can't remember the last time I sat down and drew some building or tree or sculpture or person on the street--hell, I'm not even NOTICING those things right now, because I'm so busy.

So basically, all of this stuff was really weighing on me and driving me NUTS. I expressed this frustration to my parents one Sunday while we were talking, "I wake up, I walk to the subway, I take the subway to work, I work all day, I take the subway home, I make dinner, I draw a panel or two of Comics and then I go to sleep. Then my weekends are eaten up doing ERRANDS and trying to RELAX a little, so I STILL don't get any Comics drawn!" I think my mother's response was, "That's LIFE, Alec."

Well, I think that's BULLSHIT.

I understand that what I have just described is A LOT of peoples' life. But I refuse to believe that it is EVERYONE'S, or that it HAS to be mine. (As a recent page from my sketchbook proclaims, "8,000,000 UNHAPPY PEOPLE CAN'T BE RIGHT") So I told the temp agency that I'm taking a month off. I've made pretty good money at Martha Stewart and I've saved it (mostly by NOT EATING OUT) and so I'm not going to work for the 2nd half of December or the 1st half of January.

The plan is to draw 10 hours a day using "the schedule" which I developed while I was living in Portland, to help me finish PHASE 7 #004 in a speedier manner. It is thus:

  • 8am-Noon DRAW
  • Noon-1pm Lunch
  • 1pm-3pm DRAW
  • 3pm-5pm Break
  • 5pm-7pm DRAW
  • 7pm-10pm Dinner
  • 10pm-Midnight DRAW

It's based on the excellent summer work schedule at the University of Washington Scene Shop developed by Alan Weldin. It's based on the fact that you have more energy in the morning, so the longest period of work is then, and as the day progresses, the work periods shorten. Also, the concept of BREAKS is INCREDIBLY important. If you try and just sit and draw all day you will find that after a few hours you naturally "run out of steam" and that if you try to push yourself past this point you get very little work done. But if you take a BREAK, then you can STOP, think about something else, DO something else and then when you get back you are refreshed and energized. It sounds like a simple concept, but it is vital to the whole thing.

Also, by DRAWING all day stuck here in the apartment, I will want to use those breaks to GET OUT and SEE NEW YORK. So hopefully that will cure one of the other things that has been bothering me. Because really, that was part of the whole reason I came here. To EXPLORE and EXPERIENCE as much of New York as I could. Once I see how much I'm getting drawn, I might also take a day off here or there (Sundays?) to just not draw all day and actually go do stuff. (GASP!)

ANYWAYS, so that's the plan. I'm going to try and get "back on track." See if I can draw the pages that I "should" have been getting done these past few months while I've been working full time. I just reached a point where I realized that I would not be able to find part time work in New York, that would allow me enough time to draw each day (as I did in Portland). Instead, I have to work full time to be able to make rent, but that if I'm careful, I can save up and then take a big block of time off. I mean, I am TEMPING, right? And it affords all of this flexibility (especially in NEW YORK, where I can just say, "I want to work now" and they will be able to find me a job just like that). So why not USE that flexibility to my advantage?

And basically that's my plan for the next large chunk of time. Work for a few months temping, take a month off and draw/explore. Rinse and repeat. It just seems crazy (to me) to try and track down some great job when it is going to permanently LOCK me into this lifestyle that I don't like in the first place. Especially NOW in my life when I have no need for it. I don't have a mortgage I need to pay, I'm lucky enough to not have massive student loans, I don't have a wife or kids, I don't have a CAR or other big expensive things that need maintenance. I just need time to draw Comics. That's what I care about, that's what makes me happy. So I refuse to reduce my life to a couple of hours of drawing here and there, while I can still afford not to. I'm sure there will be time for that later (ie THE REST OF MY LIFE).

So...YEAH. Friday is my last day and then I'm a FREE MAN for a month! WOO!!!

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