Our kid's cleaning the basement, and she found a notebook from my confusion days of 1999 when I was working with a career coach to try to figure out what I wanted to do with my life.
I'd quit my nice job at MSU to work at home 5 years earlier. Had a two-year-old who was a fearless painter (and hair-cutter). I was doing screen printing art and knew vaguely that it wasn't going to last. Design work was dwindling as desktop publishing became ubiquitous.
Hence the career coach.
It's funny to me how close my current life comes to what I was wishing for -- and couldn't put my finger on -- back then.
The following angsty words are from the 1999 notebook, and I'll put an x in front of those in the list that are true of my career today, 12 years later (that's most of them).
I want to do fast sketchy art and some writing. Travel. Sketch journal. Publish/create books that matter.
I will somehow, someday, build a studio that works.
I think I know what I want to do (comic strip) but it has taken a year of self-discovery to get here. I need a backup in case the comic fails. Storyboarding?? Research it.
I still have not put all my best abilities/wants/values/etc. together for one career. I want the comic -- but might there be something better out there?
Most potent areas of interest and passion:
x sketchy art
x that makes a difference in the world
earn $70,000 within 5 years
x art I can do at home
x seen by many
x pen and ink, some color
x some freedom, able to choose own subjects
x editor help/bounce ideas off
x some writing/editing
x some poetry
x Shel Silverstein-like
x occasional presentations to groups and kids
well-known in my area (hmm. Tough to judge. I'm getting there...)
x intelligent art -- witty
x loving art
x peaceful art
x poke fun at people who have power but shouldn't
x creative, lively
x freedom in schedule
x art I can do on the road sometimes
x art I can do ahead and stockpile (to accommodate travel)
x clear deadlines
x No or only occasional freelance stuff
licensing or merchandising
x learn more
x improve my art
become a modern day master
x have anonymity when I need it
x able to do my art by myself
x compatible with all lifestyles
x compatible with kids of all ages
x pays well from the start
If I could do ANYTHING, what would it be?
drawing/sketching, humor, writing, music, sewing, travel, history, costumes, kids, teaching, harmonica, humor, making presentations, debating, poetry, satire, tennis, skating, pets, family, publishing, book layout-design-typography, brainstorming, protecting kids, creativity, resourcefulness, organizing, library, parks, maps, event planning, being alone, being with people, don't help sell things that hurt, family parties, road trips, sketch journals, acting, chat host, html/websites, computer hardware/tech, embryology.
That was 1999.
In 2002 I entered the Simon & Schuster Margaret K. McElderry Picturebook Contest. I didn't win, but loved it so much I suddenly had a new career in children's books. My first book sold in 2005, to Bloomsbury. That's Ellie McDoodle, and I don't think it's possible to be happier with where I am in 2011.