Reading me.

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.

9 thoughts on “Reading me.”

  1. It would be a great experiment to begin writing one of your characters to see what has happened – if anything. I always wonder what is inside my pen waiting to be drawn out and if I don’t use the pen for a time, I assume what was – is gone and I better get drawing before anymore casualties happen.

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  2. Yes, so true! I find that writing or drawing is a journey, I head in a direction, but where I arrive is sometimes surprising. Reading what I wrote, or viewing what I drew is like a visit with my younger (seemingly wiser and more creative) self, almost like someone not me, a little sister perhaps. It doesn’t even feel like it came from me. That’s one reason it is sometimes hard to get started again, comparing myself to that “other” person.

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  3. I often pick up an old art journal and see something I’ve drawn and wondered “Did I really do that?” in awe of myself. Or just really not remembering having drawn it, but no one else draws in my art journals but me, so which ME did it?

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  4. I used to think that to make a “good ” painting or write a “good” poem that I had to carefully plan it all out, to know what it would look like or sound like before I put brush to paper or pen to paper. It seemed that I was going in circles and that the quality of my efforts always fell short. Truth is, I shot my creative wad of energy on preplanning and when I finally got to the doing, no energy was left. The more directly I work, the more astonished I am, the more surprised I am at the results. It is that monkey again!!!! Thanks, Danny, again for the thoughtful and thought-provoking words!

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