It was the night of the Old Folks’ party, a muggy evening in late August, the perfect opportunity to drape ourselves with way too much clothing, holding on to the misguided sartorial belief that no amount of money was too much to spend on a night of novelty. Around eleven that night, just as things were starting to loosen up from one too many highballs, I decided to throw caution to the wind and punch the oldest man in the garden square in the nose.

It was a good punch, too. I got the entirety of my weight behind it and harnessed my sudden impulsive rage to clench my fist with the steadfastness of a steel trap. Some who were standing nearby have since told me I flailed my back leg in an effeminate fashion, and this gave them the impression that it was “a sissy little slug,” as they later called it. Don’t believe them, I’m not likely to ever hit anyone harder than I hit the near-elderly gentleman in the three-piece brown suit at that moment.

As to why it would suddenly occur to me to be reduced to fisticuffs in what would otherwise be a pleasant affair, he knows why. I think I caught his name about twenty minutes before said episode; it sounded something like Claude. I could’ve sworn that was it. Truth be told, I was a few steps ahead in the inebriation sprint than anyone else in the vicinity. So I like to tear loose once in a while, and pocket watches put me in that sort of mood. Sue me.

Claude knew why I, without warning, flew at him with my singular fist of fury. He knew he was running the risk of just such a happenstance when he decided to pretend he wasn’t the closest to the grave of all of us by at least a good twenty years. You don’t simply waltz into a soiree of my friends and ply your elderly trade on my girl. Anyone with half a brain could tell you this. Claude had half a brain, or so I concluded through the thickening fog of manhattans. His hands are not clean in this matter. He deliberately provoked the response he had to have predicted from me.

So we reach the point when the unstoppable force known as my right fist meets with Claude’s distinguished, wrinkling proboscis. What I hadn’t been properly informed of that night, what no one could have guessed, is the Claude happened to possess the toughest nose in the known world. I’ve tried to rack my brain in the weeks since, to find some answer as to how one goes about exercising their nose. I can’t for the life of me ascertain how a nose can turn itself into hardened concrete without the aid of (seemingly unnecessary) surgery.

The upshot of this story is that you never know whom you’re punching in the face. You can go about your business, throwing jabs at whomever you like, but sooner or later you will land hard. Sooner or later you will ruin an Old Folks’ party.


Writing and such.

They say a writer writes, always. Sure, it was an actor who most famously said that (Billy Crystal in the monumentally funny Throw Momma From the Train), but that doesn’t make it any less true. A thousand words a day appears to be a very difficult task at first, but here’s hoping it gets easier over time.

Oh, didn’t I tell you? I’m a writer now. I’m a writer who illustrates. Or an illustrator who writes, I can’t remember. It turns out that when I recently said I had one singular dream to be an illustrator, I lied. I have two dreams; writing is the other. Fortunately, I started reading the “Writing Great Fiction” series of books, getting Plot and Structure from my local library yesterday. That book suggested the thousand-words-a-day thing. We’ll see how it goes. But Nick, you’re thinking, you suck at writing! So?! Maybe it’s not so hard, you don’t know.

I haven’t gotten to the part of the book where I can actually put any tools to use or practice an exercise in constructing a dynamite plot. Pretty much the whole book has been about the necessity of plot, regardless of genre or intention of the writer’s novel. That’s handy and encouraging, because I’ve yet to find a genre or intention in any of my writing.

This isn’t the first time I’ve dreamed of writing the Great American Novel. If you scour the archives enough (or if you’re one of two people I can think of who frequented this site back then), you can find previous attempts at writing. Not unsuccessful attempts, too, if I may be so bold to say. I can write a few paragraphs with relative ease. That’s never been the problem.

The problem is that I can’t write an entire book. I got about 15,000 words in to my grandest attempt and discovered that my plot was stinking like so much mold gathered on the studs of the walls in my basement. I wanted to join up with National Novel Writing Month this year, but was cut short by so much mold gathered on the studs of the walls in my basement. It’s been that kind of autumn. It’s probably for the best that I spared the world from that kind of literary monkey dance.

One thing I was able to recently do that’s not really related to writing—-at all—-is free up some time last Friday for illustrating practice. Now, don’t be harsh, but this is one of the three things I made.

You may be a kind person who has something nice to say about this, but please don’t. I think it’s terrible, and I won’t be talked out of it. This is not a ploy to gain sympathy of any kind, it’s just I think it’s terrible. And the reason I think it’s so terrible is because it came close to my objective before going horribly awry.

Where did it go so wrong? you ask. Well, the ink, in short. My proposed sequence for media on this one went: pencil, watercolor wash, watercolor crayons, watercolor accents, ink, acrylics, ink, and crayon. It was the second ink application where I went from areas of ink to lines of ink, and that was where I failed. I tried a couple other processes later in the day (while waiting for the mold remediators to not show up) and I’ll post those results another time. They were also unsuccessful, for other reasons.

I’m doomed to partial failure in all my creative endeavors until I decide to stick it out and really learn the craft. For illustration, that seems impossible without going back to school. For writing, luckily and hopefully, there will be the possibility of improving with practice and library books. Here’s hoping.

Six hundred thirty-one? Whatever. I’m through.


Start today.

At 2:52 AM last night I was staring at myself in the mirror.

I was up at that hour because I couldn't resume sleep without going to the bathroom. After washing my hands I looked up at my reflection. I had heavy bags under my eyes, and my hair was all matted, and I looked compeltely... old.

It occurred to me that I was up at that hour because I was old, and I looked old, and I felt old. I have a mortgage and home repair worries and a retirement plan. If my life were a movie, I'd be in the middle of a montage spanning my time between 24-year-old newlywed Nick and 40-year-old jaded Nick. Time is running short. Tomorrow I'll be stuck.

So I need to reach for my dreams now. My singular dream, actually: to be a freelance illustrator. I'll expound on why in a future post, but for now suffice it to say that it's my dream job. And as I looked into the tired eyes gazing back at me, I resolved that it's time to get started.

I'm giving myself eighteen months. On June 1, 2010 I need to decide if this is worth pursuing. I'll use the interim to develop my chances. I'll need to:

1. Create a style,
2. Refine a process,
3. Construct a portfolio, and
4. Find a way to get paid.

If I'm well on my way to this eighteen months from now, I would consider myself ready. Join me for the journey.

Foux da fa fa!