Growing as a writer (and as a person)

I am doing something this weekend that absolutely terrifies me. Sketchcrawl is worldwide activity but in Brighton, at the Jubilee Library, at midday on Saturday 21st November, it will be happening to me!

I am a terrible sketcher (getting better, but very slowly) and my urban sketches are the worst of my work. So why am I doing this to myself?

Because when I signed up for it, I was the kind of person who wanted to grow, and I wanted to meet other artists because that would help me, and I wanted to draw Brighton, because I love it, and bringing those two together would make me grow, whether I wanted to or not.

But today I am not that person – today I am a shivering wreck of terror about the whole thing. I don’t want to expose my paltry sketch skills to the very much better artists who might come along. I don’t want to ruin anybody’s Saturday by having organised something that turns out to be dreck. I don’t want the responsibility or the pain or the humiliation.

But I do want to grow. So I’m going through with it. If you have paper and pencil, feel free to join me – as you cannot possibly be worse at this than me, and even if by some amazing chance you were, I will be kind and supportive and happy to see you, because that’s what I’m hoping to other, better, artists will be for me. And I'm already in contact with one accomplished, lovely artist who will be coming along, and that's a GOOD start.

So growing is painful. But necessary. I’m growing into a different form of writing too – two different forms, actually. Excellent Agent has me working on a book-length non-fiction. I feel quite odd about it: one the one hand, it’s making me a better writer, on the other I’m nervous that I could end up ‘doing’ non-fiction for life when I really want to be a novelist. So I’ve opted to grow in another way too –I’ve found an artist with whom I’ve very excited about working on a graphic novel, provisionally entitled Savage’s Steam Emporium.

Todd Alan is great, nearly as driven as me, and proving to be fun to work with. Of course I am not going to become a full-time graphic novel writer, but it’s been a dream of mine since I picked up my first Marvel comic, aged 12. And I’m equally terrified about this too: maybe Todd will put in hours of work for no purpose, maybe publishers will laugh at us, maybe Excellent Agent will blow her stack at me for doing this (EA, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry!) when I should be working on serious income-generating projects.

But I’m growing. And that is the only thing to do. What doesn’t grow, stultifies, and who wants to be a stult?

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