I've been working in our Beirut office this week. It's been fun - it's a good team and a beautiful city but I hate being away from my wife and family. And of course, always at the back of your mind are the troubles. Its unavoidable. Soldiers are everywhere, checkpoints, crash barriers, bomb barriers. Even to get into my hotel, you have to go through a metal detector and have your bag x-rayed again.
In the evenings I've been staying in with room service and either working on my book or doing more drawings or working on both.
HWF is now at 112,000 words so massive progress there. The end is totally in sight. Hurrah.
I've also been done seven drawings - all of which I'm pleased with to some extent and show progress from just a few weeks ago. So a productive week - but I can't wait to get home.
As I get closer to finishing He Who Fights yet again, I was thinking a lot about the difference between writing and drawing. Obviously one consists of words and the other scribbles on paper but the mental process is just as different. When I write it takes all my concentration. I can't listen to music with lyrics for instance as the words clash with the ones in my head, yet when I draw, I can listen to anything. I can even have the TV on, because my brain is transmitting out. To be honest, it can almost feel like a form of meditation as I can draw without thinking of anything. Stress, worries, life. They all fade away as I scribble away.
When I was a child, drawing made me happier than anything and, in part, my current enjoyment of it probably has a lot to do with the residual memories that resurface while I'm sketching.
There's also the time factor. I can spend an hour or two drawing and have a pretty decent picture at the end of it. HWF has been a two year job. Yes, I write in hour long or two hour burst but I'm simply putting down a tiny piece of a much bigger picture each time.
When I think of how much has changed in my life since I started writing this book, its amazing. Looking back over this blog, you can easily see the dips and rushes of enthusiasm for writing it. The hard work. The knock backs and boosts.
When I was younger, about 18 years old, I had an interview at an ad agency. I'd gone along woefully under-prepared but the man, probably hoping for work from my father's ad agency humoured me. He then asked me why I thought I was creative. it threw me then because I'd not really done anything apart from getting a pretty average mark at A Level art.
Now, obviously I could point out my long career in advertising and the stuff I've made plus the awards and all that stuff. But there's no need for that. The reason I know I'm creative is that there's this urge in me to make stuff. Not just the ads that I'm paid to make but all the other stuff that floats around my brain. It's like a river pushing against a dam and whatever I do, write/draw/make ads, is just me letting a little bit of it out so there's room for the next thing I want to make.
Drawing is a quick release of that pressure. Writing is a longer, slower drain. Both are as vital as breathing to me.
I'm pleased with this morning's early morning sketch of Rey from Star Wars - a film I still really love. In fact I plan to watch it yet again on my flight back to Dubai on Thursday and I'm eagerly waiting for the blu-ray release.
The picture's got the first signs of a personal style coming through I think. It still also has a wonky thigh in it - something I need to work on.
In other news I'm writing again. Slowly. But writing.
It's been a bit of a heavy month for various reasons that's not been too good for my writing. Writing needs me to think a lot and at the moment that's hard. However, I have been doing more drawing as that allows me to be creative without thinking. Maybe because its purely visual, but I can concentrate on the line, the form, the colour, and just switch everything else off.
As with all hobbies though, I was growing frustrated using ordinary markers so I went out and bought new ink pens and some proper colour pens. The Wolverine image above was me trying them out on a drawing for my son. I was pleased with the results but he rejected the picture because Wolverine was cutting the Sentinel's hand off!
I've been posting them up on Instagram and slowly my likes are going up with each new picture. It's a good way of charting my progression. I certainly feel I'm getting better.
My proportions are still a bit out of whack but that's something to work on.
As for the writing, I've managed a few words today so that's progress at last...
When I was a kid all I wanted to do was draw — mainly superheroes — but you would never find me far from a marker and a pen. I dreamed of one day illustrating my own comic books but I knew it didn't come as easily to me as it did others I knew. I had to work hard to get something half decent. (Of course back then I didn't realise hard work can compensate for or better natural talent)
I don't know when I stopped drawing though. Yeah I did odd sketches at work, scamping out ads, but never for fun. When I started trying to write properly back in 2010, I didn't really have any time for other hobbies. Since then I've become even more time poor but I have started sketching again. My little boy loves watching me draw and requests drawing sessions and pictures to put up on his wall.
I was pretty rusty to start off with but I can see myself getting better.
The drawing above wasn't for him though. I was killing some time before meeting my wife and some friends for dinner and started to doodle a picture of Nathaniel Rane as played by Tom Hardy. This is my idea of dream casting. Tome Hardy has the perfect mix of downright dangerous, a little bit crazy and totally tortured to play Rane. I'm quite pleased with the results.
This weekend though I'm back to drawing to make a 4 year old happy. We've got a Batman picture to colour together.