My Thoughts, The Writer's Life

I’m Good at Drawing Frogs

When I was 10 years old, I liked drawing almost as much as writing. And though I dabbled in the drawing of reptiles, particularly snakes (which are actually a bit more complex than one might assume, despite their limbless design), I became particularly adept at frogs. If you wanted a drawing of a frog, you came to me.

I enjoyed drawing frogs. I mean, frogs are definitely the sort of creature boys ought to draw if they draw at all. Well, frogs and spiders. (Though if you ask me, spiders are more about math that art. Can you count to eight? You can draw a spider.)

But I also liked horses. Now before you accuse me of being all girly (no, I did NOT sew my own G. I. Joe clothes… I manufactured them – please, make note of the distinction), I’d like to add that my love for horses came from watching The Lone Ranger on TV (a totally masculine show because the protagonist is a cool cowboy who wears a mask), and not from falling in love with Marguerite Henry’s Misty of Chincoteague (although, yes, I did read it – purely for research purposes).

It was only natural that I would attempt to combine my love for drawing and my interest in horses.

Only one problem. I was a frog specialist.

My first attempts at drawing horses were disasters. If you know anything about horses, you know that words like “sleek” and “majestic” define their shape, whereas, frogs are all about “bulbous.”

I quickly became frustrated and disappointed and nearly stopped drawing altogether. I thought that all artists would naturally be able to draw anything they wanted.


Thankfully, in the midst of my pre-adolescent pencil-and-paper angst, someone asked for a picture of a frog. I drew it. And it was good. Damn good.

Meanwhile, I bought a book called “How to Draw Horses” or something like that. I studied it. I practiced. And I improved. Had my interests not suddenly shifted to All Things Sports, my horse drawing ability might have soon eclipsed my frog drawing skill.

Okay. Segue here.

When I first started writing, I became quite good at instructional copy. Curriculum, sunday school lessons, things like that. I enjoyed writing instructional copy (in part because I was good at it).

I also loved reading novels.

Do you see where this is going? Of course you do. I wanted to write novels.

My first attempts were pretty awful. They were… bulbous. I almost gave up writing when I realized how far off the mark I was.

But then someone asked me to write curriculum. For money. Real money.

So that’s what I did. And over time, I added all sorts of non-fiction writing to my resume. I became an editor and discovered I was good at that, too. Then I worked my way into editing fiction (which is what I do almost exclusively today). The whole time, I never stopped trying to improve my fiction writing.

Here’s the perfect place in my over-long post to reveal all the amazing novels I’ve written and published. Except I’m still working on that. I think I’m at a place where my novel writing is as good as (or even better than) my non-fiction writing, and I might just be a better writer than editor. I guess we’ll see soon enough (“soon enough” meaning as soon as I finish the current w.i.p. and start doing just what you’re doing – submitting it to agents).

The point of all this? Simple: Find out what you naturally write well; write lots of it; and, if possible, get paid. Meanwhile, keep getting better at what you love.

Someday, you might just become adept at drawing horses.

Well, that’s it for today… I’ve got a few frogs to draw. Gotta pay the bills, you know?

See you next time.

9 thoughts on “I’m Good at Drawing Frogs

  1. Does this mean there’s no hope for my Great American Bulbous Novel? Sigh.

    Just when I thought I was doing so well…

    By the way, I got tangled up betwixt (and between) art and writing too. Took me longer to untangle from art. Probably because there were no frogs involved.

  2. I was quite adept at drawing horses as a child. Oh, and dinosaurs. Not really sure what that might say about me. I can’t wait for your w.i.p.

  3. I was never good at drawing. I was pretty good at poetry, but I was great at “seeing” things others might not and solving problems from a different angle. Ergo, The Little Man In the Map and a brand new way to learn the name shape and location of all US states. Check it out. There is also a great Froggy on the last page.

  4. There will be no frog pictures. I was 10. I am now…a multiple of 10. In the context of a 10-year-old’s tiny world, my frogs ruled. Today, they’d look like crude cave drawings of amphibious roadkill.

    But thanks for asking. Now get back to writing.

  5. I can totally relate. After a long hiatus from creative writing during which I wrote proposals and marketing materials, my creative muscles are sadly atrophied.

    Thanks for the encouragement to keep exercising them!

  6. Stephen–I know this post was probably meant to be an encouraging kick in the pants for us writers, but did you ever suspect it might also be a booming word of comfort, perhaps even of the Divine nature, for someone such as me?

    The past year, I have been frustrated out of my mind writing and editing business books…and hoping that I could just quit eventually to write what I love instead. However, things seem to foil this plan, such as Monday’s conversation with my client, where I was given a raise on my hourly rate, just because he “is so happy with my work.” Arg.:)

    Your post encouraged me to keep going and not feel as if I am being dragged down the wrong path…that I can be where I want to be eventually. Thank you so much.

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