Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Goodbye 2016

8 months! Has it really been 8 months since my last rambling? Wait, just one post in 2016? Nah, that can't be. Hmmm, the date says it's true. I guess I better get it together and post something worthwhile. 

Here goes nothing. 

Hopefully not too much of nothing, maybe with splashes of something.

I am trying to think what has happened that is worthwhile, if anything, in this time span. Lets see, I completed several new books in the Puppy Pirates series written by Erin Soderbergh Downing. They, Penguin Random House, announced two additional books so the total will be 8. That is very exciting! Another Freddy the Frogcaster book - written by Janice Dean, was released and book number six being worked on at the moment and will be hitting the shelves later this year. Also, a weather app from Freddy is came out last year and is available at the app store. Freddy was also named the official mascot of NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). Yeah, I had to look that one up.

My wonderful agent, Danielle Smith, has gone solo and opened her own agency called Lupine Grove Creative. I am so excited to be with her on this new adventure and think good things are coming our way. She has a couple of dummies of mine out on submission, fingers crossed. We are revising an older one so hopefully that will be ready by the end of January. I need to tweak some copy, tighten up a few sketches, and then do some sample spreads.  Plus we are working on other ideas that are rattling around my noggin'. I am really enjoying the writing experience with each thing we do. It still makes me nervous and full of self doubt but I am getting there. Word by word.

Those two words that haunt many of us.

Self doubt.

Self doubt is something I dealt with quite a bit during the past year, along with a large splash of depression. I usually go through a small patch of it every year but nothing like this in the past. It is something we creatives rarely talk about in public. Get us in a small gathering, probably at a bar, and we will open up to each other about those two dreaded words. Before I go any further, this is not about fishing for compliments. I think most of us in the creative arts have a hard time with compliments. I know I do. I get all awkward and embarrassed, my words stumble out, clumped together, usually coming out all mushy. Huh, it sounds like me asking a girl to dance with me in high school. It is not that I do not appreciate them, I do, and it makes me feel like I did something right, but the feeling is usually short lived and Mr. Self Doubt waltzs through the door.

I have no idea what really triggers this feeling. It usually comes out of nowhere and smacks you in the head like a swarm of Frisbees. Maybe a bad drawing triggers it, or a dry spell without any new ideas. I know some friends get it when they see others doing so well while their career is on hold. What could trigger my self doubt is seeing a large body of work that I know could be better. I am happy with an illustration or book for about 5 minutes before I start the dissection process. This drives my wife nuts. She thinks everything is great but does not understand the inner turmoil we go through when creating. It is a blessing and curse. Nothing is good enough. We know we will never create that piece, story, book, song, etc. that will be our masterpiece. At least that is the way I feel. 

The carrot is always out of reach.

So how does one conquer this feeling? I really do not know. It can ebb and flow. Sometimes I try to push through it, casting the feeling aside, showing it who is king, trying not to be the court jester.  

Other ways to get over it is to take a break. Get away from the drawing table. 

Watch a movie. 


Listen to new music. 

Stay off social media.

Let me repeat that one. Stay. Off. Social. Media.

I found staying off social media for a long period of time really helped me, especially with the depression part. I used that time to experiment. Create some new pieces. During this time, I rediscovered my love for traditional painting. I mixed the tactile feeling of touching real paper, mixing paint, and applying with a brush. There is something about having paint and pencil on your hands, and clothes, at the end of the day that makes one feel like they have done something creative. I am not ditching the computer, I still love working on one, but working traditional helps keep me away from social media for long periods of time. I get lost in the painting process.

Writing is also becoming very therapeutic. Letting the words representing my feelings. One goal for 2017 is to start a journal in which I can write in by hand, again, getting away from the computer. It will be interesting to read them years from now, seeing where I went while sorting through life.

What will 2017 bring? I have no idea. All I know is that I will not let self doubt and depression cripple me like it did last year. I will use it to light the flame and fuel the fire.

I will also be more proactive with this blog. Once a year is way too long to be absent.

So, now it is time to sign off from the web for the day and break out some paints or a notepad for writing. May 2017 bring you much happiness, laughter, and success as your dreams come through.


"I can't think of anyone I admire who isn't fueled by self-doubt. It's an essential ingredient. It's the grit in the oyster." ~ Richard Eyre


Gina Perry said...

I had noticed there was less of you online the latter half of 2016. I think it's very wise to know what drags us down and avoid it whenever possible. I love your work, Russ! I'm sorry for the low points, but glad that you found ways to recharge and reconnect. Wishing you an uplifting, busy, and encouraging 2017. (And I'm posting my thoughts here vs facebook because I want to selfishly encourage you to blog more!)

Russ Cox said...

Thanks Gina. The negative climate on social media nowadays can be a drain. What once was fun to do is now filled with a lot of hatred. You know I am a HUGE FAN of your work as well. Cheers to 2017 and the success it brings to you!

Dan Moynihan said...

Hi Russ! Cheers to you for your openness. I imagine that most creative people struggle with self doubt and depression, myself included. But it's not what we usually want to talk about on social media! We see everyone else's highlights, while living with all the junk behind the scenes in our own lives. For me, it helps to focus on enjoying the creative process and to forget about outcomes and expectations. Anyway, wishing you all the best in 2017! (p.s. I miss the days when blogger was the place to be!)

Kevin M Barry said...

Great post, brother! We've all been there (or are there right now). Thanks for sharing! You're the best!

Paul Weiner said...

I enjoyed your post and the frankness with what you have to deal with. Self-doubt is one of several adversities we face for accepting the responsibility of being a freelance person. It never ends and will always look for ways to haunt and cripple the creative process. The idea of knowing that it lurks around and continues to test us is a challenge that balances moments of pure inspiration. Good-luck.

Valeria Wicker said...

This is so great Russ! I agree 100% on what you said about artistic people. Sounds so much like me that is scary... I am so glad to hear that you too can always find a sanctuary where you know you are at "home". Wether is writing, painting or doing other things, the most important thing is that you get to do what makes you at peace with yourself. Crossing my fingers with you about your two submissions and I truly look forward to see your name taking over lots of bookshelves. I truly do.

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