There are days where I feel like things that I have built up (reputation, experience, competency, etc.) just aren’t tangible enough for me. (I’ll ignore the fact that they don’t feel tangible possibly due to the fact that none of them are built up very far.) When I feel that way, sometimes it helps to do something where the outcome is physical and real. Growing up, my dad always had a well-stocked workshop at our disposal. I could build model siege engines or targets for the archery range or turn a vase on the lathe; these things had a great, “finished item” kind of feeling to them.
Of course, most of the time I would just pick up a pencil and a sketchbook and do my best to give myself a dowager’s hump by age 18. The hours I spent drawing stupid pictures of monsters, aliens, mutants, cyborgs, robots, zombies, and various combinations of all of them would probably add up to a PhD’s worth of wasted time.
I say “wasted” deliberately and without rancor.
Aside from a drawing of a house I did in grade 7 that ended up in my school hallway, nothing I have ever created has been exhibited, featured, or sold. I have not sought out to become famous by drawing, nor would I expect that fame would come from the attempt. (My brother is a far better artist than I am and he rightfully does make money off of his work.)
I do it still because I find it personally satisfying to take something out of my head and loosely interpret it with my moderate skill-set on a piece of paper. It gives me something to look at. It will be there for my daughter to puzzle over when I’m dead.
My wife wonders why I keep buying new sketchbooks and different pens and sets of pencil crayons with more and more absurd colour names (“Navy Sunset,” “Deep Tangerine,” “Halogen Green,” “Apocalyptic Mud Puddle”), and I imagine that the expense does seem unnecessary, but there are days like today when a minor success on paper would do my heavy spirit a whole lot of good.