My next door neighbor is a clay, tile and pipe cleaner artist and one of my writing desk windows looks out to his backyard filled with bushes, trees and life size sculptures. In June Ted Fullwood participated in our neighborhood open studio. I had been looking at this 3 foot tall cookie cutter man, a piece unlike anything else Ted has done. I bought it and placed “Henry” as Ted dubbed in my backyard by the garden. He has overseen the chrysanthemums blooming out and the heritage tomato produce masterpieces.
I have been puzzled by the magnetic quality of this piece, a bit surprised I bought a clay sculpture. I finally realized I like to draw a gesture style outlined person as the simplest of cartoons, like a moveable gingerbread man shape.
Sunday was the monthly writing group, No Bad Sundays, and, thinking about it on Saturday, I knew what I want to explore. I voice recorded a memo to the effect that I want to make a graphic novel that is memoir, except that the main character will be this clay shape kind of drawing, very simplistic and fluid. And what is most important will be writing and drawing without reference to gender, race, age, nationality…possibly not time references…even though I am drawing on events, some poignant, from my own checkered history. If the reader begins to suspect, or figure out it is me, that’s fine.
I drew a quick sketch in the group on Sunday and then wrote the memory for half and hour. I learned, as I read it aloud that I’ll need to draw, write, and then draw more frequently because a who chunk of memory poured out and, while it bore the pain and loneliness of those events, it was confusing to my listeners when I read it aloud.
Then a clay artist who writes talked to me after and suggested I used one of those wood armatures to sketch my clay person in various poses, which I thought about as I drove home. Then the idea came to make a cookie cutter shaped person of fabric and cover the wooden armature, so that I can get fluent with this character in sketches. A flat thing has to look like it is bending and moving in 3-D.
Writing without reference to gender was difficult, yet I think it necessary. I want the reader to co-create the character fully with me. And, the drawing acts as kind of a mask, a safe place to write from, as some of my experience, like every one of us, includes some suffering and some novel twists and turns.
So, here I am writing about writing. And, this idea is taking hold, maybe because it has come out of the roots of some time in the making. I know that a blog is not the format for this work. I will continue to post something here, at least on Tuesdays. Mini-stories from school and slices of my life as an interventionist.