Sketches and Stories

January 20, 2021

I’ve reconsidered having “First Chapters” as a separate navigation category. I’m still keeping the tag, but I’m moving First Chapter posts into Stories, and then displaying tags for first-chapters in the list. Technically, a “First Chapter” is a type of story, so this makes sense in my head. I also don’t want the navigation to be too large since I’m adding another category.

Oh, and I’m adding a new category: Sketches.

A long time ago, I bought the first iPad Pro 12.9” with an Apple Pencil the moment it came out. The Apple Pencil was something I’d been waiting for since the moment Steve Jobs announced the original iPad. No matter what he said, writing directly on an iPad was something I desperately wanted 1. I mostly used it for ideas, notes, and software architecture sketches (no, seriously… I did that a lot). But I also bought Procreate and played around with sketching.

I spent two years creating one sketch. Mostly, I would play around with it a little, forget about it, then come back a few weeks later. It was of flowers, something I intended gift my wife for her birthday, then Christmas, then birthday, then Christmas, and then finally, I actually finished it and gifted it to her. She loved it and I stopped sketching.

Late last year, I got a new iPad Pro to replace my aging first-gen model. I chose the smaller one (11”) and originally intended it to be my “on-the-go” 2 writing machine. After a little bit of waffling — I’d just spent over $300 on the Magic Keyboard — I bought the new Apple Pencil. It just didn’t feel right to have an iPad without one.

About this time, I’d been struggling a bit with depression. It wasn’t anything serious, nothing clinical, just something there but intractable. I’m getting older, my body doesn’t work the way I want, I struggled to sleep the way I needed, I was dealing with work stress, and I have three young children that I love, but take an inordinate amount of time and energy.

When that happens, it’s easy to fall into the habit of what my wife and I call “veggieing”. For my wife, that would likely involve Netflix binging a crime drama or perhaps a Victorian-age show. For me, I read; but I don’t read the thought-provoking stuff. No, it’s the low-energy page-turners that follow a very specific formula, one that allows me to check-out. I’m exhausted, probably sick (again), and depressed; I feel like the only thing I can do is plop on the couch for the next three hours and check out.

It’s a problem, because veggieing doesn’t make me feel better; it doesn’t give me energy. Instead, it makes me anxious, driving me deeper into my depression and makes me want to veg even more.

I am a person that needs to create to feel good. It almost doesn’t matter what I do, so long as I’m making something new. Perhaps it’s just my personality, or perhaps it’s even a form of neurosis. I dunno and I don’t care, because what it was, was a road out of my depression.

When you don’t have enough energy, find things that give you energy. Duh.

Now, to be fair, writing gives me energy and makes me feel good. It’s a big reason I write in the first place, even on a blog like this that virtually no one ever reads. Having people read my stuff is nice, but it’s not the point. The point is that I enjoy writing, so I do it.

But I can’t always write, especially in the evenings when everything is loud, I’m constantly getting interrupted, and the TV blaring out random words or songs or what-not; it’s just not a great writing space. I refuse to extricate myself from my family, and I didn’t want to check out anymore.

So I turned to my iPad again and started sketching. It was something easily interrupted (meaning I could pick it back up without having to rethink my whole last paragraph), I could do it while being part of my family, and it made me feel good to do it. It gave me energy.

And now I have a new section on my blog.

  1. In college, I had one of those ThinkPads you could write on. I used it endlessly for school and love it. Even though the screen was a measly 1024x768, blurry, grainy, and mostly just pretty crappy, the ability to write saved me a ton of space in my backpack and was just a better experience. 

  2. Or more like: “on the couch”