Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Building Wings

For many years it's been my dream to be a full time cartoonist. Last May, I finally took the plunge. It was a huge gamble, but I've got fewer years in front of me these days than I do behind. So I went for it. 

Why? Because I like to entertain people. Because as a boy I met Tarzan and Popeye and Sherlock Holmes and Charlie Brown and Batman and Ebenezer Scrooge and dozens of others, and they all taught me to believe in art and magic and creativity and wonder. 


Ray Bradbury in his later years
I've been an aspiring writer all my life. The creative person I hold in highest esteem is Ray Bradbury. When I lived in Los Angeles in the late '90s I went to hear him speak at a book fair. He was in his 80s then, slowed but not stooped. He blew me away. I was humbled---me, a man in his late 30s (at the time), put to shame by the energy, love and enthusiasm for life radiating off this elderly man. In comparison, I'd been sleepwalking all my life, moving like someone stuck in oatmeal. And here was a guy as old as my grandfather, putting out energy enough to power a small city.

Years later I attended an intensive, six week writing workshop. Each day the workshop leader taped a flip chart to the wall with a saying from a famous writer on it. The one that's stuck with me to this day: "Jump off the cliff and build your wings on the way down." Ray Bradbury said it. He gave me the nudge to quit my day job and go for broke.

I wish I could say my cartooning business soared and I'm flying high, but that hasn't been the case. I still feel I made the right decision and don't regret it. But the reality is I'm looking for work to make ends meet...and when I say "work" I mean out in the 9-to-5 world. I have a temp job lined up beginning next week which should take me through early February. That's great, as the winter is always the tightest time cartoon income-wise. Hey, the bills need to be paid. 


And in the hours in-between, I (like so many other writers, artists, musicians and others who believe in magic) will continue to make things up out of whole cloth, be they pictures, words, or a combination of the two. Because it's what makes me breathe, what makes me alive. Creating to me is like gills are to a fish. It's essential to my life.

And I'm so grateful. (Well, most of the time.)

May you and those you love have a healthy and creative holiday season and new year!

(If you'd like to experience Mr. Bradbury for yourself, watch the video below. It's worth watching the entire 22 minutes. You'll feel like you're 12 again.)

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