the nummulite

In a discussion about the late (great) John Updike, Ben told me that the author was a firm believer in writing “three pages a day”– of anything. This is perfectly sensible, and sounds so simple. It speaks to the notion of keeping one’s instrument in fine-tune; in a word: chops. What I’ve been missing from my life as a visual artist; my endless battle of attrition.

Also reminds me of a line in Moominvalley in November. Snufkin tells the emotionally torn young Toft, “You want to be careful not to let things get too big.” In addition to the immediate meaning within the story, it’s the notion that if one allows something to get too big –even only in one’s mind– it nonetheless enlarges the context all round. It relates to how the dreading of a thing is almost always worse than the actual confrontation said thing.

It makes me sad that drawing has become that kind of a battle in my head- I used to do it almost involuntarily, and without fear. What’s with the fear? It’s not as if I’m going to run out of paper! Okay. I’m going to do a drawing right now. In a brand-clean, unused sketchbook. With a ball-point pen- no eraser, no grand expectations. Just a drawing.

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There. It’s nothing wonderful, but now that it’s done I do feel better. In the spirit of Updike’s equation (and a friend’s persistent example), I set out do a drawing a day. I will use this book, and watch the fear recede. I will miss some days, and perhaps make up by doing more than one on some days. In the doing, as with all types of exercise, strength will return.

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