One of the things I have enjoyed about the Hubbard Hall Writer’s Project is not just having the permission but the encouragement to get in touch with my inner smart ass. And, while reviving a love of drawing and sketching in a writing group may seem like a supreme act of contrariness – an absolute requirement for anyone who takes being a smart ass seriously – it has helped me be truer to the project and also truer to myself than I have been in many years.
I drew constantly in high school. I drew in art class, out of art class. I drew to drown out the reality of being unpopular. I drew to kill time until graduation would liberate me from a sort of geeky existence at a school where being geeky was a one-way ticket to popularity poverty. But mostly, I drew to tell stories.
Highly political, all thumbs with a makeup kit and blow-dryer, I successfully skewered any hope of attaining the social skills needed to enter the higher echelons of high school society when I dove into the world of Dungeons and Dragons. Like most questionable decisions in high school, this one was motivated by an interest in a specific boy, and I worked hard to feign interest in the dice and the byzantine layers of rules.
But I loved designing characters. I loved creating people, and I loved drawing them. I drew them for myself and occasionally for other people, and as I drew, I conceived whole histories for these people on paper.
I dropped art for a number of reasons, and even though I wrote, I alway felt I was missing something. Now, as our workshop explores all the new avenues for story telling, it seems the visual and the verbal increasingly buttress each other, and I have come back to it, slowly reclaiming my craft. With each cartoon or animation, I am filling a void and finding the confidence to follow not only my own creative urges, but encourage them in others. And building little temples of creativity and encouragement is ultimately what this Writer’s Project has come to mean.