Why I Write Reason 27: I’m Not Good at Other Things

Writing wasn’t always what I wanted to do with my life. Back in high school I wanted to be a comic book artist. I worked hard at it, drawing every day and practicing how to draw people, landscapes, and every conceivable type of object. I even got accepted to the Kubert School, back when it was still called the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art.

After a year at Kubert, I realized that being an illustrator was not my destiny. While I received good grades and mostly positive critiques, I had some difficult epiphanies. The first was that while I was okay, I wasn’t outstanding. To get work in a highly competitive field you need to stand out, and my work just didn’t.

I also realized that I was slow. To make a living, especially back in those days, you had to be a workhorse. Again, if I were outstanding, and the quality of my work were a commodity, I could get away with only drawing one book a month. Speed would be a commodity that could compensate for my average level of skill and talent, because there’s always work for people who can bang things out quickly. But average and slow? That’s a non-starter.

What really changed my mind, though, was that my interests began to shift. From early childhood up through high school, my life was about comic books, science fiction, and tabletop roleplaying games. The comic book industry to this day is dominated by superheroes, so that would be the direction my career would likely be forced into. Yet I was developing and interest in film, and literary fiction, other sorts of stories about people who weren’t punching villains and slaying dragons and flying spaceships.

My realization was that I wanted to tell stories. Being the illustrator of a comic book wasn’t the only way to do that. If I wasn’t good enough to draw those stories, I could write them. By running down the checklist of the things that I knew, or at least didn’t believe I could do, I focused instead on the things that I could. Writing remains something that I can do, even when there are few other opportunities or even no other options.

You can read more about Why I Write here.


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