9 Spacing Out

Above: some panels from a scene I sketched out roughly but did not include in the book. At first I thought I might sketch out the entire book in a loose form like this as part of the process of creating a raw second draft. I quickly abandoned that notion, which would have meant drawing the entire book twice (albeit sketchily the first time around), when it became clear that merely drafting a working script for my novel was going to take nearly a quarter of the two years I had allotted for writing and drawing the finished book!

So it was that, only a couple of months into the process, it began to sink in that I was in big trouble, deadlinewise, and could not avoid turning over a much larger chunk of my life to Stuck Rubber Baby than I had intended when I signed the contract.

LETTER TO CHOPETA (October 24, 1990)

…I’m really only good for four or five hours of creative work every day during this part of the process [the conceptualization of the story]. I only sit down and scribble things on paper for an hour or two; the rest of my working time I’m pacing around the living room or strolling up and down the streets of our neighborhood trying to induce and maintain a kind of trance state that will permit my story to unfold in my imagination.

From the outside it often doesn’t look like I’m "writing" at all. (Eddie has had to learn that I’m not available for casual conversations just because I’m sitting on the sofa idly thumbing through a magazine.) All this is unnerving because of the small voice in my head that’s taking a gander at my behavior and shrieking, "My God! You’ve got 205 pages of comics to draw before December 31, 1992. That’s two Wendel on the Rebounds [an earlier book of mine]!! How can you sit around the house staring into space for weeks on end?" It’s not easy to ignore that voice and keep my mind drifting along through the land of make-believe.

What I’ve got so far is a mess with a million loose ends. I have to trust that it will provide the makings from which something reasonably worthwhile can later be fashioned. We shall see. This may be the biggest fiasco of my life. I have to remind myself that they don’t send you to the gallows for creating a bad book. If Lily Tomlin’s career could survive Moment by Moment, mine should be able to survive this. …