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When I'm sketching ideas on those graph paper pages, I feel more creative, and the ideas just flow!

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Less is More


I'm told that Isaac Asimov never did rewrites on his books; he just wrote 'em out and sent 'em to his publisher. (I don't know if I believe it. Even if I do, I say, "pooh." And, "well, he was Isaac Asimov.") Coco Chanel, designer and inventor of the Chanel suit, famously described her recipe for elegance: get yourself dressed and then "before leaving the house...look in the mirror and remove one accessory." This reminds me of the dictum of editors to young writers: "Murder your darlings." (In other words, the phrase or sentence or paragraph of which you are most fond--is the one that needs the ax.)

Editing is tough. God Himself says so. John21:25: And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen. I like the "amen" at the end for emphasis. And because it's the last verse in the gospels, I like to think God Himself is owning up to the difficulty inherent in editing.

In my spare time I like to write out quotes and verses. I do each one more than once, because the first version is inevitably busy and too-cute. And after years of doing art, it still takes multiple renderings to clear the clutter out of my brain. Its component parts are:

  • fear that people won't "get" my point unless I throw in lots of clues
  • compulsion to include every idea I have, because maybe I'll never have another one
  • desire to use all the available space, because, as my father used to say: "willful waste makes woeful want"
  • an impetus to include accessories for every person in a drawing, as if I were some Egyptian slave outfitting the person in the tomb with every accoutrement for the afterlife.
I strive to achieve elegance and simplicity within the confines of my love of detail and story-telling. It can be a tough balance to strike. I'm illustrating this post with my original version of Hugh McGuire's quote about books (read his post: Why Can't We Read Anymore?) and the version I could only do after putting out one crammed with every busy little idea I ever had. I guess I like them both, but there's no contest as to which has more clarity.

Note: I cut about 20% of this post out before putting it up.


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