Do you always know why you do what you do? I don’t. If you’d asked me why I draw or paint or write, until a week ago, I wouldn’t have had an answer. Today, at least one possible answer just occurred to me: To be where I want to be.
In rediscovering Hannibal, I’ve rediscovered something else that I haven’t experienced in a while, since the days of the Internet: I want to concern myself with the things that interest me. Reading a book is nice, but too passive. I want to talk. I want to see. I want to hear. And if that’s not possible, I need to create. Not just a drawing or a painting. I want to create the place, the setting, the situation that exists in my head, without anyone telling me I can’t go there right now.
Now for all my life, for most people around me, when I wanted to talk and to see and to hear about the things that concerned me (Hannibal, Middle-earth, Bayer Leverkusen, Richard III), the natural reaction was for the other person’s eyes to go blank and stare fixedly ahead. Or to change the topic. Or to simply leave the room mid-sentence, leaving me standing there and talking to myself until I realised they weren’t coming back. If I play possum, I’m sure she’ll just go away.
That hurt. I had forgotten how much.
Now don’t get me wrong. I can understand that a mother can think of more interesting things to talk about with her thirteen-year-old girl who desperately wishes to discuss whether Rome broke the Lutatius treaty of 241, or Hannibal broke the Ebro treaty of 226. And if even my mother couldn’t bring herself to fake interest in that, I shouldn’t have harboured any illusions that my friends would appreciate having the battle of Cannae drawn into the sand at a park and explained Hannibal’s strategic genius, when they really wanted to talk about how cute that boy was or how much of a slut that girl was or whether peppermint Rolo tasted better than caramel fudge.
When I was fourteen or so, I realised that, and stopped bothering others with my worlds, instead creating them for myself, on the paper, where I wouldn’t get on anyone’s nerves. When I showed my creations to my parents, that would give me a precious thirty seconds to share these worlds with them, or, at least, just to talk about my skill.
With Tolkien, or Heroes, or Song of Ice and Fire, I can now go on the Internet and discuss Balrogs’ wings and Jon Snow’s parentage to my heart’s content. Before the Internet, I couldn’t. And even with the Internet, with some of my more nerdy obsessions, I still can’t.
So back then, and today, I make art. If I show it to somebody, that’ll give me a few seconds of talking about the topic.
Weird how such a little effect warrants so much effort.