The Creative Endeavors Thread Tries and Fails

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Busy week for me, plenty of work to go round—some projects successful, some less so—giving me lots of opportunity to mull over notions of “failure” and “success.”

My printmaking experiments continued, this time with the harder mounted linoleum I’d (accidentally) ordered from Blick. Going for a relatively detailed scene, along with gloves I picked up at Meijer to hold the linoleum steady without gashing my thumb this time. Wound up peeling clear a pictorial homage to a grove spotted in Greenwich Park on my London visit last year (fittingly near an apparent Romano-British temple site).


Inked (relatively) properly this time on a metal surface, and this was probably the least disastrous of four results (that survived, anyway).

Greenwich Glade

So I’m learning, and even if I have yet to be sold on my personal connection with prints, I’ve still got ten quads of lino to get through, so maybe something’ll click in the next year or so. In the meantime, the conclusion of my webcomic last month enabled me to get on a long-delayed project: rifling through old stories of mine to see if any of them might make decent comics.

I wrote fiction off and on for twenty-five years, and regularly for ten, turning to visual art and illustration (as I probably ought to stop saying) in the wake of my breakup of October 2015. A minor regret for a while has been that I didn’t start drawing again sooner; I went through my files last summer to compile a potential anthology of my better stories (both for my own commemoration and because—spitballing wildly—I figured my niece might get a kick out of it one day), and learned to my dismay that I hadn’t written anything I remembered too fondly since November 2011. It was highly likely that I’d been creatively spinning my wheels for a good four years, and the realization’s weighed on me a little even as I got more confident and ambitious with my visual work.

So I was pleased to find that at least two, maybe three of the twenty-four I’d written in that period actually held up better than I remembered, and one’s improved massively with a little editing (in the middle of editing another now). And those are just the ones I reread this weekend. I’m planning to try at least one of them as a comic later this year, and will likely start the preliminaries in a couple of weeks. All this has been quite the salutary lesson when it comes to letting things lie for a while. That said (and bearing in mind the question’s probably been asked before), how do y’all approach failure, both real and imagined, in your creative work?

Today’s header is Dame Sian Phillips in one of her several iconic roles, the Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam in David Lynch’s critically panned (but awesome) film of Frank Herbert’s Dune (1984), in which part she memorably posed the potential cost of failure to Kyle MacLachlan’s Paul Atreides.