I have nicked the title "Artists Only" from a Talking Heads song a few times. I have used it to try and describe my slippery relationship with things creative. I started out as a child, drawing on pads of paper brought home by my father the printing salesman. I wanted to draw like my older brother did. I wanted to draw cartoons. When I was in fourth grade, I added author to that illustration gig. I had in mind that I would become my own little cottage industry. Picture story books by Dave.
In the meantime, I kept drawing. On purpose and absently. On those pads of paper and in the margins of my notebooks. And painting. I started painting. That lunch box I carried through junior high. The bunk bed upon which I slept at our mountain cabin. I drew invitations to our family picnic. I drew political cartoons that I imagined might eventually get me a spot on somebody's op-ed page. I painted my first canvas in acrylic: a cartoon demon sitting on a throne, surrounded by bright orange and red flame. While my pallet knife technique was lauded, I was asked not to use quite so much cadmium yellow.
Now my attentions began to shift to the Royal typewriter I kept on my desk. I wrote page after page of single-spaced thoughts and imaginings. I wrote stories and opinions and musings, in what I hoped was the style of my hero, Kurt Vonnegut Jr. These were not the picture story books I was authoring in grade school. These were darker musings of an adolescent kind.
And I kept drawing. Now I was aping the styles of the artists I was reading in Heavy Metal magazine. If I couldn't be Kurt Vonnegut, I would be Frank Frazetta. And I had a movie camera. I was making Super 8 versions of films I had seen in my youth. I was going to be Steven Spielberg. Or Stan Brakhage. I was going to be an artist.
I kept drawing. Now it was mostly Christmas cards and the doodles I made on post-its during meetings. I painted on the walls of my son's room. I started to write screenplays. Romantic comedies and episodic TV. I was going to be William Goldman. Those scripts still have an honored spot on the hard drive of my computer. I have always had a self-promotion problem.
I'm still drawing. I'm still writing. You're reading it. Something's working. And I'm cleaning. I'm cleaning my brain.