Since I happen to think he's a good artist who just happens to be terribly out-of-practice (sounds like someone else I know), I encouraged him to go for it and said that I would do the same challenge, but with writing.
(Please keep in mind that the last time I did writing challenge was 6 years ago when I was still at least slightly in the habit of writing, and Mark hasn't done any regular art in probably as long or longer.)
So. What could go wrong?
Well, I think it went exactly like you might expect.
We started out with good intentions. Then the weekend would come and throw everything off completely (Mark would be with his daughter, I would be working). Then we'd attempt to catch back up during the next week. Rinse and repeat. Several times.
Spoiler alert: we both ended up behind, one of us more than the other (hint: me).
But along the way, I actually really enjoyed it, regardless of how much I complained that I didn't know what I was going to write. I liked sitting around with the love of my life, making art. I liked the challenge of it, of being forced to be creative again, and I liked watching him be creative. The other night, when we were making our last desperate attempt to finish, I told him that I liked watching him draw.
Mark: I'd say the same for you, but... it's really just not the same. With you, it's lots of unintelligible scribbling... furious crossing out... writing really small off to the side, then pausing while you chew on your pen and stare off into the distance.
Me: ... That's an incredibly accurate description of me writing.
So no. Writing isn't exactly a glamorous thing. But I admit, it felt good to be writing regularly again. And creatively. To try to come up with a story or a poem in response to an often-very-visual prompt. I did research to try to spark ideas. Mostly, I tried to be unconventional. I made an effort for whatever I was writing to not be quite what you would expect, or for there to be a "reveal" towards the end. For the most part, I think I was successful. Obviously, some days were less so. But the important thing was I was writing.
I definitely fell off the bandwagon towards the end. Between getting ready for Halloween, a busy work schedule, and other obligations, I got very behind. I actually only completed up to Day 27. But that's twenty-seven pieces of writing I didn't have before October. That's twenty-seven works of effort and struggle and editing. There are a few I really love, a few I hate, and most that I was fairly satisfied with. Some I worked on all day, some came together in almost one shot, and others I threw together during my idle hour at work. Which is, I suppose, what art and writing is all about. Doing what you can, when you can, with what you have.
I'm pretty sure Mark is even harder on himself than I am. Which is impressive. But honestly, I loved seeing him create his art. They were very rarely just a drawing that correlated to the prompt. They were usually detailed enough to actually tell a story. He had returning characters, mainly the Steampunk Ghostbusters, and I got to watch him experiment with different mediums and materials.
He might not be thrilled with his work, but the fact that he did most of them in just an hour or two is amazing to me, and I usually loved what he did. And I really loved walking by the corner that houses his drawing table and seeing all his art taped up. I'm lucky to be able to draw a proper stick figure, much less armed and dangerous blind mice.
If you're so inclined, you can find my writing (in reverse order) over at my A.C. Jones Facebook page (that's my pen name), and Mark's drawings are here!
I love that he is creating art again. And I love that I proved to myself that I can do the same. Just maybe not for 31 days in a row.
It's good to know one's limits. As well as one's potential.
I tend to forget the latter all too frequently.