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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Keep walking through the ugly

The piece I really wanted to write tonight is called "Helen Mirren is Ruining It for the Rest of Us." It's a brilliant essay, if I do say so, about how women of a certain age, an age at which perhaps they ought to be setting down their hand-mirrors and their punishing self-loathing, instead have joined together in a chorus of "I want to look like Helen Mirren when I grow up."

Because, get it? Helen Mirren's all grown up. And she's still a babe at 71, so why shouldn't we be, too? Just as we wanted to look like Christie Brinkley in 1975.

Anyway, I was going to make this semi-feminist point that Helen Mirren is already taken, but frankly I lost my mojo on that and by now you get the point. Instead  I'd like to share with myself a few words of encouragement. Feel free to hang in here as I engage in optimism calisthenics.

Last night I was making the drawing you see above. It's a drawing on a postcard for someone, actually, and it's inspired in part by Haruki Murakami's book "Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World." A chubby woman in a pink suit is a fixture in the plot. As I was reading,  I kept thinking about what she would look like and eventually I ended up wanting to draw her floating. So I did a little sketchbook sketch and then reworked it a little to what you see here.

At the quarter- and half-way marks, I could tell that what I wanted to happen was not indeed happening. And I'll admit it — I wanted to shut it down and watch TV. But I've had enough experience working things through and having them turn out better than I could've imagined, so I slogged forth. And as you can see, I ended up with ... this.

Did not turn out the way I'd hoped.
Does not convey what I wished it would convey.

On the other hand, I didn't bail. I did my best to aid and abet a version of the drawing that was better when I was done than it would've been if I'd quit. This means that I had to keep thinking and problem-solving. And it means that if I have a quota of, say, 10,000 bad drawings to log in my lifetime, good news! Only 9,999 to go!

Some people come by grit naturally — you know, the way Helen Mirren has a natural gift for still looking great in her 70s. Others of us have to lean hard against the winds of pessimism and lethargy.

So there we are. Last night, I leaned.

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