The wrong wish
I wish I could draw.
I’ve had this wish for a long time.
I’ve taken classes, watched videos, and read books on drawing.
While I’ve worked through this material I’ve learned quite a bit.
I’ve learned that often the issue is that I’m not drawing what I’m seeing because I’m not seeing what I’m seeing.
You know what I mean.
Another issue is that my hand isn’t doing what my mind thinks its telling it.
I wish I was better at it.
And yet I don’t draw every day.
Instead of wishing I were better, what if I practiced and did the things required to get better.
Though you might not be able to tell from these newsletters, I write every day.
I write a lot every day.
I’ve gotten to the point where I can mostly see what it is I want to say.
I’ve gotten to the point where my words can mostly capture what my mind is seeing.
I wish I could draw like that.
And so I’m going to spend the next four weeks drawing something every day.
I learned this from Jaimee. Set yourself a tiny challenge and then do a little to meet it each day.
I’ve meant to draw sketches for my books and classes for years and I never have. In the past few books I’ve been using some Comic drawing software and assembling shapes into comics that explain some of the difficult concepts.
They look good enough but not great.
Recently one of my tech reviewers pushed back wanting to know why I used shadows here and why I had some inconsistencies there. Their comments were perfect. I’ve made adjustments based on other reviewer feedback of the drawings.
But this reviewer went further. He suggested I hire a professional artist.
This isn’t the first time it has been suggested - and I’ve considered it. My books are mainly a labor of love. I look for a topic I want to dig in to and spend months writing and editing it. I publish through my own imprint and never sell a lot of copies. But I always learn a lot and never come out wise enough not to start writing the next book.
All that is to say, there’s not enough money to pay an artist what they should earn and I’m not going to ask an artist to take less than they should.
And then the reviewer said that they would pay for it.
This was an amazing and kind offer and I can’t accept it.
But my commitment to the reviewer was that I would spend the month of February working on drawing to see if I can get better.
What does better look like?
Many people write or teach better than I. But I write and teach in a way that is authentically mine.
It took years of teaching before I found myself and what works for me. The same is true of writing.
Years ago I quit a job editing books because I’d lost my own voice. I was able to write in the voices of each of my authors but had lost the ability to sound like me.
So I don’t need to be an amazing artist. I just need to draw enough to figure out what my drawings look like.
Like everyone, I’m sure I will do a lot of derivative and awful work in the next month.
For years I’ve had the wrong wish.
Instead of wishing I could draw, I should have wished I would draw.
That’s an easy wish to fulfill.
And by doing so you fulfill the first wish.
Essay from Dim Sum Thinking Newsletter 45. Read the rest of the Newsletter or subscribe