Reading me.

A painting I made in tenth grade. It still looks like my foot, though greener.

I don’t usually read my books for a long time after I write them. I’ll have some occasion to look back and read what I wrote and the experience will be quite odd. Sometimes it will seem familiar, and very much me. At other times, I’ll think, “Did I really say that?”, sometimes with pleasure, sometimes with dismay.

Often I am possessed by some other version of me when I write, a version that is a co-creation of the book itself, the inexorable march of ideas and words that surge forward as I write at length, ideas taking on their own voice, connections stopping out of the shadows. That’s one of the prime pleasure of writing, how the process takes over. When I wrote a novel a few years ago, I was constantly surprised at things the characters said, at the way bits of plot came full circle to tie up ends, at the life the story had quite beyond me. I sometimes think back on the characters, wondering how they are now, as if they lived on even though I stepped away from the keyboard.

I can have the same feelings when I draw. I begin with an impulse of what sort of drawing I want to make but invariably where I end up is pretty different. Making a drawing, like writing, is an exploration, an adventure. The destination is subject to change. My mission is to discover myself. And sometimes what I find may be pretty unfamiliar and surprising.

I write my books. But I read them too. And I hope I’ll always get lost in their pages, lost so I can find something surprising and new.