Today I have a guest post by Thea van Diepen, a fellow traveler on the creative path. Thea’s latest release is Hidden in Sealskin, a fantasy in which the prickly, suspicious Adren seeks a cure for a unicorn’s madness. She is also the creator of the webcomic, Kara the Brave, that is going to update twice a week soon!
Welcome, Thea, and thanks for your raw honesty.
Drawing frightens me. In drawing, I find all the ways I have failed.
Because I’m proficient enough in writing, these ways are subtle enough that I don’t always see them well. But in drawing? Hoo boy.
Just over a year ago, I decided to start a webcomic.
It’s an idea I’d been playing with for a long time, and the idea of making a comic in general was one I’d been playing with even longer. The only reason I started was because a) there was interest and b) I hoped my subpar beginnings would soon give way to more proficient artistry.
That hasn’t happened anywhere near as quickly as I’d thought. Kara the Brave is nowhere near where I want my comics to be, and I see it every time I sit down to make a new strip.
My writing faults have also come to light during this process — in a comic, I can no longer rely on dialogue and action to carry the story alone. Characters have to have expressions while speaking. They have to use body language. They have to exist in a setting that I can picture well enough to draw, rather than vaguely hint at because I can’t.
Why? I ask myself often. Why couldn’t I have taken the time to learn how to draw properly? Why did I have to give into laziness in my writing and expect that things would be okay?
Why can’t I be better?
At what point did I twist the message of the Ugly Duckling so thoroughly that I thought I could only be beautiful if I considered myself ugly?
This is not a place that logic will get me out of. If I really believe I’m still the ugly duckling, I’ll only think that anyone saying otherwise, at worst, is lying to me or, at best, has no idea what they’re talking about.
I have the feeling you’re far more familiar with this place than you’ll often admit.
And, the fact is, this place is a lie.
It’s not a lie in the sense that I haven’t quite settled into my voice, that my drawing skills are still in need of improvement, or that I do take the lazy way out with various areas in writing. Those are still all true.
The lie is when I believe that these things disqualify me from being loved.
When I believe I am disqualified through my art, every line, every panel, every stroke of the pen against the tablet becomes a fearful act. I must do better if I am to be valued. I must make better if I am to be well regarded.
Because even the smallest error will drop me from honour into shame.
Not only is this a lie, it’s a lie that only I perpetuate.
The truth is that my friends and family are still my friends and family; the fact that my webcomic isn’t as good yet as I think it could be is irrelevant to our relationship.
And, since it’s irrelevant, it’s not their responsibility to make me feel better about it. Rather, it’s my responsibility not to shrink away from them for fear of punishment, but instead to let go of the lie of my ugliness so I can receive what they have always given me.
There’s a reason the last chapter of Kara the Brave isn’t “I Love You,” but “I Love You, Too.”