Over the past few months I've been on the weirdest introspective journey I've ever been on. If you can, bear with me; I promise this is very much relevant to my art, but I suspect it's not that common of an issue among artists. If you don't want bear with me, well...I can't promise the TL;DR will make much sense. I can't think of a way to say this succinctly, so here goes.
First, two things. They'll make more sense the more you read.A) Artistic integrity.
B) Personality osmosis.
For almost as long as I've been writing and drawing, I've felt like they were...almost opposing halves of me. I needed one mindset to draw, and another completely different one to write, and flipping between the two takes a frustratingly long amount of time--days at best, months at worst. It's only in the past few months that I've realized why exactly
this is the case, and it starts with my writing.
I write best from first-person. Period.
The approach I've chosen focuses a lot on what I imagine someone's day-to-day, minute-to-minute thoughts actually are. Unconnected, sporadic, very train-of-thought, not grammatically perfect, constantly missing context (because the context is there
, they have no reason to mentally reiterate it), that sort of thing. It's a deeply personal approach that, in my eyes, is my best approximation of what the inside of someone else's head would look like if you just got to go inside and sit in on their thoughts, without them ever knowing you're there.
In my experience, writing is like 85% mental and doesn't require the physical act of writing, so I can basically write anywhere, anytime, as long as I have enough spare brain-space to do it. So for as long as I've been writing Of Stardust and Splinters
--which realistically is around three years, give or take--I've been chewing on it for the vast majority of the time I can get away with it. At work, in the shower, when trying to fall asleep, in the car, you name it.
And it's first-person. So when I'm 'writing', what am I actually
This is where item (B), personality osmosis
, comes into play, and I call it that only partially because it's an excuse to use the word 'osmosis'. I noticed, over time, that I started to develop many of my narrator-protagonist's habits and personality quirks. My demeanor, physical and otherwise, shifted to become more like hers. She, in turn, also adopted some of my personality traits and so forth, albeit to a lesser degree. I've spent so much time essentially roleplaying as her that I adopted her persona. This does two things:
- It makes it easier to write; the need to step out of my own shoes isn't as drastic because our metaphorical shoes are so similar now.
- It makes my writing feel more genuine and authentic. Having her habits for so long starts to unveil some of the less savory sides of having them that I would never have known about had I stuck to just imagining those habits, or that I would be far less effective at conveying because imagining something and experiencing it are two very different things.
The real problem here is the latter, and this is where item (A), artistic integrity
, enters the field. The more I roleplay as her, the better my artistic integrity, and the better my writing will be, or so I can't help but believe.
But hey, surprise! Anyone who's taken thirty seconds to flick through my gallery has probably noticed I draw this pony a lot
) and probably noticed she tends to be intense, grumpy, and unapproachable. She is many things, but "relaxed" is not one of them. In her situation, she absolutely cannot be. Ever.
And therein lies the issue.
I feel like the more I roleplay as her, the better my writing is--but while I'm busy being intense, grumpy, and obnoxiously reclusive, guess what I can't
And because I can't relax, I can't draw
I draw best when I'm relaxed. My best art (obviously biased, but...well, y'know) has always come when I'm relaxed and just let the art flow. There was a 4-week period, several months ago now, that was probably the single densest period of time I've ever had in terms of art productivity, and it's only looking back on it now that I realized it happened because I relaxed
. I stopped trying so hard, I stopped caring what other people thought, I just drew because I
What's this all mean moving forward?
It means I'll probably stop taking requests. I'll still complete the ones I've accepted, but I can't offer my absolute best if my artistic brain isn't fully behind your idea, and I can't offer requests or commissions knowing I'll be giving people less than my best.
It also means art is on hold until I can figure out a perspective or mindset that lets me drop my adopted persona without, in my eyes, compromising OSaS's artistic integrity. Believe me, I want to draw, and when I can, I will. But when push comes to shove, I put writing first.TL;DR: Roleplayed for too long, can't/don't want to get rid of mask, but want to get rid of mask because art is hard with it on.