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It’s not the biggest secret in the universe, it’s hardly the biggest secret about me. In fact I’m not even sure it counts as a secret. You see, I’m not just a writer; I’m also an artist as well.

Of course, artist covers a multitude of sins, what I mean is that I like to create visual artwork, both 2D (of various media) and I have been known to “dabble” with 3D as well (ok, so there’s a fan film or two out there sporting meshes I created). My art teacher used to leave me to my own devices when I was at school. She was curious as to what I’d come up with whilst in the classroom. Being granted the freedom to explore and have fun with different media… I learnt a lot.

The biggest lesson I learned was that whilst I creating like art – love messing about with it – I lack the focus and commitment to do it as a full time job. When I draw, I do so because the whim takes me. When I paint – it’s for the same reason. When I mess around with 3D models and mesh creation – again, it’s because of whim. The idea of creating something for serious use? I may have done that accidently, but I never started out with the intention.

Art has also been a side hobby for me, in the same way that music was a side hobby for me at school. I love to sing, play as part of a band – I’ve even been known to write music as well (mind you, I had to do that one). Again, however, it’s more something that happens on whim. It lacks the burning desire that writing has on me.

Maybe in truth art and music are simply other ways for creativity to leak out when I find myself, quite literally, lost for words.

Of course, they also serve as perfect distractions from writing as well. They sate the need to create without the requirement that I write. Ironically? Both are as hard work as writing. So as distractions go, they aren’t really the best.

Still, all that aside – a billion or so years ago (ok, maybe not quite that long ago) a good friend of mine introduced me to National Novel Writing Month (NaNo). For an amateur writer who professed an interest in going beyond short stories it was a perfect challenge. As I got more into it, I noticed the trend to create “cover art” for NaNo submissions, as a way of gaining interest in your project. In fact various people advertise offering to create cover art for NaNo participants on their forums. It’s actually as much a part of NaNo as the writing side of things (or so it seems to be these days).

Creating the artwork each year (or rather three times a year as it ended up with the various different versions of NaNo) become something of a guilty pleasure for me. Perhaps too much so maybe. Because I started bugging the hell out of a friend over what they wanted each time (rather than check they were taking part first). Which is part of the reason why I stopped taking part in NaNo in the end.

Taking part in NaNo had become more important that actually getting on and writing.

Which is how I came to fall out with the whole National Novel Writing Month shebang. It’s a fine idea and has its place. BUT it’s not for me anymore. It served its purpose, showed me I could write a novel (more than once as it happened). It stopped being fun when it became about the process and less about the writing.

So no more NaNo for me.

Oh, I still recommend it to people – but I do think once you start to focus on doing it, rather than on just getting on and writing you’ve somehow missed the purpose of it.

Still, it was fun whilst it lasted 🙂

If it has an enduring legacy for me it’s in the cover artwork I created for myself and a buddy of mine, and in the fact that if I need to create something just for the hell of it, I can – without feeling guilty if it’s NOT used.

And because it’s not nice to tease when you repeatedly mention artwork – here you all go;

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That’s everything I created for NaNo for myself and a buddy of mine, covering 2009 up to a mad idea of mine to take part once again this year (2014).

Mostly they’re mixed media (little photo-manipulation with some paint effects), some were completely created in 3DS Max and rendered up (“Just Us,” “Gay To Zed,” “And Shadow will Fall,” “Perhelis”) – some I had a lot of fun creating (“The Lodger”) as finding a willing victim to pose for me, sorry I mean model, wasn’t as easy as I thought. Some made use of stock that was either paid for, or used with the kind permission of the artist, and some are complete creations from my two hands.

And of course, none of these were ever meant to be used professionally.

Of course I realise that those that are fully my own creations could be used professionally. And some of the ones that use stock from other artists who would no doubt be willing to licence the images that way (at a price of course).

They were created as a whim, as a bit of fun, just to enhance the experience of National Novel Writing Month. They were created because they made, make, the writing more fun.

Like I said earlier in this post, art is just another way my inner writer leaks out and helps me define an idea, nothing more. Still, it is fun.

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