Friday, February 18, 2011

Is It All Just Wasted Time?

I've written before about how much of a procrastinator I can be. Today - thanks to the need for someone to be at the house when a contractor came by the house to give an estimate - I took off work. Oh the stuff I was going to get done today.

I also complained about how slow my wife has been about reading my would-be novel and how I've written a pretty long short story while I've been waiting... over 6k words long. Well, as I do everything I write, I loved it. What will happen soon though, I'll tweak it a bit before sending it off to try to get it published, then notice something I didn't like, change it, realized I screwed up the continuity, rewrite other portions, get bored with it, decide it needs more action, then realize its too dark, add a comedic sidekick. Eventually I'll have a mess.

But I'm not there yet. Right now I still love my story. So while I had the time and inclination I decided to do a sketch or two early on this morning to really give the story some oomph. I've been doing a lot of sketches and the like the past month or two because I am toying with the idea of releasing something - for free, or as cheap as the rules will allow - in various e-formats. I think I'm going to try to submit my novel for general traditional publication. But a short story isn't so much an investment in time that I couldn't try experiment by putting it out there.

So, with that in mind I was thinking of adding a picture or two with anything I release. I'm still toying with the idea and don't know if I'll do it... but that does serve as the inspiration for recent flurry of doodles I've been putting out.

Now, the short story I've written is set in the southern U.S. in the mid 1890's. In the story a Clint Eastwood type mysterious stranger shows up when things are just turning violent. I had in mind the fantastic movie The Unforgiven when Clint walks into the saloon with vengeance on his mind.

The difference I suppose is that my character is a black man. For 10 - 20 years right after the civil war black men in the south enjoyed more freedoms and luxuries than they would for the next century. The 1890's was when Jim Crow laws were really starting to be put into the books across the south, taking away many of those freedoms.

Also, I don't draw guns well.
This character is heavily scarred and none too pretty to look at. I thought it would  be great to capture something of him in one of the story's more dramatic moments. So I started with this rough draft:

I wanted to show several characters in the foreground and that classic Mexican standoff that the great Spaghetti Western's are known for. But I realized that I couldn't do that for a couple of reasons. 1) I suck at blocking things out. I would be positioning folks in stupid places and would end up ruining my picture, I just don't have the skill level to pull that sort of thing off well. 2) It would take forever to actually move that beyond a mere sketch. I would spend as much time trying to finish a scene as I did writing the story in the first place. I'm not prepared to dedicate that kind of time to it.

So, after deciding that was the wrong track I wanted to focus on the same part of the story, but to sketch the character a bit more dynamically  to see if that looks any better. I got this:
Wait. Wasn't he supposed to be black?

I like it a bit better, but it looks too comic booky to me. I wanted the end picture to look more like an oil painting, not a rogue from the Batman comics. I needed to up the ante and add some realism to the scene. Of course I can't really do that without some sort of reference photo or something. So I picked a photo of the internet and sketched this:

That cowboy hat got awfully wimpy looking.

Well, I did okay with the realism, but my issue is that I really need a live model to sketch something that looks real and like it has impending action... in other words. I wasted my day. Still, I do enjoy the creative process. I just wish I had more time and could work faster.

In the meantime, my wife has read the first five chapters of my novel. Only about 20 more to go and I can get it back and start making revisions.


Catherine Ensley said...

Hi there, fellow Crusader. I love your illustrations. Stopping by to say "hi" and to follow.

Angela Scott said...

Nothing that good is a waste of time. You're very talented--wow. You did not waste your day one bit. Be proud of what you accomplished, even if you're unhappy with the pictures above. They helped you to know what you need to make it the way you want. Personally, I think their great. Super impressed.

KarenG said...

I agree with Angela. Not a waste. I think the last picture is brilliant. Put your story behind it and epublish it, as an experiment and a learning experience.

Rusty Webb said...

Catherine - thank you.

Angela - Thanks a ton. You know, I am in always in need of validation. I can never be proud of what I've done. But if I can ever get to the point that others are being honest (instead of just nice) when they offer praise I'll be well on my way.

Karen - Thank you too. And I very well may epublish. I think I'm going to send it out to be rejected by a few places first. I have a novella that I'd written a few years ago that just might be perfect for an epublishing venture though. I just gotta commit to it then do it.


Chantele Sedgwick said...

You are so talented! I just thought I'd stop by and say hello from the crusade!:) Nice to meet you!

Rogue Mutt said...

Nice sketches. I wish I could draw. That would be so cool.

Les said...

Pretty rad pics man!

Gina Blechman said...

First off, it's not a waste of a day, it's just a day spent LEARNING...all the things that you don't want to do. As long as you tried and you learned something, it's not a waste of time. Also, your drawings are amazing. All in all, there's nothing to be ashamed of here. :-)

<3 Gina Blechman (fellow crusader)

Margo Benson said...

Fellow crusader here (waving!) Wonderful sketches - nothing wasted. Pleased to meet you.

Anonymous said...

Good luck on your next chapters. You did a great job of sketching. I sometimes sketch action scenes, wether it be stick men or really detailed sketches. Helps write the characters and give you a sense of how you need to portray the characters to the reader.

Ciara said...

Wow, I only stopped by to say hi to a fellow crusader and ended up mesmerized with that last picture. It is so dramatic. Fantastic job! BTW - I'm a follower now. :)

A Beer for the Shower said...

As the others have said, that last drawing is spectacular. I wish I could draw like that, simply because if I could sketch out my characters, I think I'd be able to get a better feel for them. Make it easier to write about them.

~Nicole Ducleroir~ said...

Loved the sketches! Don't think you wasted one second. All great, but the last one is my fave.

Best of luck with the short!

Trisha said...

Those pictures are brilliant! Good job :)

J.L. Campbell said...

Hi, there. Making the crusades rounds. I wish I wasted my time this well when I'm trying to avoid writing or just taking some free time. It'd give me a real sense of who my characters are if I could draw them, so relish what you can do!