My name's Dave. I'm working on it.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


Mornings are a crucial time for me.
I woke up around 9 o'clock, as I usually do. My first incoherent thought was: Do I have to work today?
My brain began functioning. No. It's Thursday. No work. Joy. So I allowed myself to drift back to sleep, guilt-free, for another hour.
And that's when things began to turn sinister.
The later I slept, the more I was aware that I should be getting up and getting on with my day. The longer I stayed in bed, the harder it was to get out of it. I am already fucked. Lost before I start. Same as it ever was.
So much of it is arbitrary. I feel that my morning productivity speaks for the whole day; there are others who don't get up 'til noon and have their peak productive hours at night. But whatever your settings read, once you make a misstep, there's always something inside you begging you to make another, then another, and then one more after that, ad infinitum.
It makes me wish we humans had a reset button.
A quick push and the useless thoughts would be gone. I could proceed unencumbered. Ah, wouldn't it be nice?
I know, in my higher mind, that it doesn't matter what the day's been like so far. I still have all day to be productive, live well, etc. But I know, too, that depression is a self-perpetuating entity. Maybe it's just me, but feeling like I've wasted my morning increases the likelihood of wasting the rest of the day a thousandfold.
It's quite mad, really. Nothing is wrong, per se; just the knowledge that I've let the hour and a half I've been up slip away without anything to show for it is enough to irrevocably mar the next 11 hours. All the while, I'm aware that you can spend a good amount of time putting off doing something, but when you finally work up the stomach to take care of it, it takes practically no time. Focused effort is a force to be reckoned with. Yet here I sit, prey to my computer. Instead of making breakfast, putting away laundry, and getting on with things, the internet holds me in its clutches.
As I've no doubt touched on before, this is most common on days when I don't work, with the free hours stretching out before me. We all know the theory of the advantage of working within a schedule. But if I'm getting more done on days I work than on my days off, something's very wrong.

I can't give in. I know that button is there, somewhere.

Ah, there it is.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Return of the SDP

I am working tenaciously on a project I started long ago; an experiment in behavioral psychology designed to help me make a few personal changes. As self-help projects go, this one is the most straightforward, scientifically sound approach I've ever come across. I am pretty sure I've written about it before. I could go into greater detail, but it would cause your eyes to glaze over. Something about technical speak just has that effect on people.
The subject of my project is that of time management. I've been struggling (not for the first time) to give due time to all the practices I've been doing lately - writing, sketching, and learning piano, to name but a few - and in addition to feeling overwhelmed and unable to give any of them their proper amount of time, I've been feeling generally dispirited about it all, compelled to do them out of a sense of obligation instead of doing each because I enjoy it. So the project is a dual endeavor: both to learn how to actually manage my time more efficiently, and also to approach the things I use my time for with a better perspective.
So far so good. But like most things, this is gonna take some time. There ain't gonna come a point when I wake up and find that I've arrived at the plateau of perfect discipline and mindfulness; it's always gonna be a process. But the whole thing will be documented and, hopefully, the road to wherever I'm going will be littered with an abundance of cartoons, assorted writings, and new songs.
To this end, I want to say that I appreciate all of your words regarding my last post. Your collective wisdom is resounding in my ears as I plow forward on the road to having a healthier relationship with my various disciplines and try to find my way through it all. You are all awesome, and I will repay you in cookies yet.

Friday, April 04, 2008


Due in part to yesterday's comic-drawing frenzy, I started musing in my journal about how often it is that you find yourself unable to draw even the simplest things; things you might look at a hundred times a day. It's partly that old truism (which I first came across via Danny Gregory), that you can really only know things after you've drawn them. Before this fact, what you draw is more likely to be your mind's image of the object: Coffee Cup, Bus, etc. By looking long and hard at something and drawing it specifically, you notice all the particulars that make it unique. Fine. Plenty of validity to Gregory's slow-as-snails contour practices.
But having done a fair amount of these observational sketches, what I keep being struck by is how unnatural each one feels (and looks) after the fact. The lines are always fractured and broken, there is either too much detail or not enough, and it reeks of trying overly hard to render exactly what I'm seeing in precise detail rather than making, well, a drawing of it. But maybe this is part of the exercise? (Ashley, I'm looking to you here).
My eye then wandered over my various notes to myself, and I realized that one thing I am totally comfortable with is my handwriting.
When we're young we're taught how to write cursive and to cultivate 'good' handwriting, and this stays or wears off to varying degrees as years pass. For my part, I went through a very clean handwriting phase, then went off the deep end in the other direction, filling notebooks with completely illegible (I'm talkin' like a heartscan) scribbles. Now I look back at my journals from the past several months, and see that my handwriting has settled into a style that I very much approve of. It's messy and occasionally still illegible, but it's very me. It has it's own character and eccentricities. After all this time, I've found my proper expression with it.
This got me thinking: how do you achieve such a thing in other forms? In my sketches, I still lack any kind of identity. Same thing with songwriting. In both fields I find it much easier to create pieces that imitate someone else than try my own thing (as I may have written prior, each of my FAWM songs was a direct attempt to be like a specific artist), under the premise that through imitation, eventually your own style shines through.

I offer up the following sketches that I did this evening as examples of this dilemma.

The Doubtful Guest

Cat and Girl

Pintsize (from Questionable Content)

My hand can imitate these styles, but I know that none of them are my own, per se. So what does it take? I know the only real answer is that long, hard road of daily practice. But lordy, those contour sketches can really get a boy down. What say you, friends?

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Three on the Third

Here's my contribution to a fun little venture brought to my attention by my friend Lindsey.

As you may guess, I'm feeling pretty under the weather, so without further ado: