Have you ever had that itching feeling? The one where you’re on the edge of some momentous discovery or creation, an instant before a breakthrough, so close that a heavenly choir is preparing to sing in the background? If you’re anything like me, that instant-before moment is right about when you lose your train of thought.
The other night I was doodling my own book cover for Lois Lowry’s The Giver. Everything was going well, the images were flowing freely from my mind to my pencil to the paper. My fingertips were throbbing, but it was that pleasant soreness of effort and accomplishment. The two-dimensional graphite on my paper grew a magical depth and form, reminding me of the real magic that came out of Clary Fray’s illustrations. Okay, maybe my surprisingly decent drawing of a finger sandwich couldn’t actually become a finger sandwich, like Clary’s could in Cassandra Clare’s City of Bones, but it could make my soul soar.
With growing excitement, I spread graphite on paper like butter on bread. French bred. Really thin, flat, mouthwatering french bread. I felt the power that Clary must have as she drew symbols that could rip metal apart or grant immortality. I just needed to finish my character’s eyes… I paused. My character’s eyes more closely resembled round, fragrantly ripe cantaloupes. I erased them and tried again. Now they were marvelous yet entirely un-eye-like potatoes. As I slipped out of my artistic haze I noticed that aches crept through my knees and back from sitting in one position too long. Even worse, I was now out of “the zone” – I couldn’t remember what my artistic goal was or even imagine what I wanted the eyes to look like. In vain, I tried redrawing them closed. I don’t even know how to describe what they looked like that time except that they were not in any way recognizable as facial organs. I remembered Clary once complaining that every arm she drew looked like an eggplant, and I envied her. My drawing would look more human with her eggplant-arms than with my cauliflower eyes. The aches in my fingertips were spreading to my hand, but I wasn’t proud of them anymore. I erased and tried again, then again, and again, until the entire face was just a featureless smudge that looked like someone had dumped warm, creamy rice pudding all over my drawing. A change of plans was in order. Clary had to draw magical symbols with the pressure of hordes of hungry demons chasing her. I should be able to draw a simple face. I would not be outdone by a sheet of paper and a stick of graphite. I would conquer this drawing.
That’s when I decided that my character needed a blindfold…. And I needed dinner.