Why I Love Pencils

I’m taking an online writing workshop with Jenny Forrester through the Literary Kitchen and each week she gives us a seven-minute free-write warm-up exercise. This week we were to think about what/where comforts us. I wrote this and want to share it. For the love of pencils, but also to acknowledge that life makes you who you are while you’re busy dreaming about going elsewhere to become someone else, so you might as well love the result.

I go into my sketchbook for comfort, through my pencil, making lines. I draw when I’m tense or fretting. I draw outside, inside, in meetings, on the train, in other people’s talks about so many things. When I was a child, I mostly drew elephants, sometimes lions. I imagined Africa as the most wonderful place in the world to go while I doodled the big animals I’d seen on television. Born Free was my favorite movie then.

I’ve never been to Africa.

In high school, I drew in my binder, on the edges of my homework. I loved math the most, probably because I got to draw a lot of triangles and parabolas, curves arcing off of circles, cylinders and cones. I loved lines and would fill pages with them. Escher was my favorite artist then. And Georgia O’Keefe. And Maurice Sendak. Fantasia was my favorite movie and I thought I might grow up to be an animator, working for Disney like my great uncle Ernie who was the art director for the film’s “Dance of the Hours.”

I’ve never worked for Disney.

This could go on and on. All the ways I imagine my life going. Me and my pencil. Then I go another way. I used to feel bad about all the forks in my roads, but now I just feel too old to fuss about what I might become someday. Today I get to go on a walking workshop with an amazing sketcher who is so generous with her craft. Her sketchbook will fill up with awesome watercolors.

I’ll never be Virginia Hein.

But I don’t care. I’ll keep in mind my favorite Oscar Wilde quote: “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.” I won’t even care that professorbuzzkill.com claims Wilde never said this wise thing.

Peace out 🙂

While I have many other pencils, the Dixon Ticonderoga #2 Black is my favorite and is also the pencil I used to do all 200+ drawings in By the Forces of Gravity (out in June! Woot Woot!)

Whirlwind in Florida at AWP18

My brain has just begun to settle from all the excitement at AWP18. Though as I sit down to write about it, my mind starts ping-ponging around. Tell them about reading your book ARC in public for the first time! No, the comics panel! Oh, all the people at the Hippocampus table! The pencils! All the beautiful print publications! Posing with Oscar Wilde!

Wilde: “It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.”
Me: Cool, want a pencil?
Wilde: “Writing bores me so.”
Me: You can draw with it
Wilde: “All art is quite useless.”
Me: People kiss your tombstone all the time, with bright red lips.
Wilde: “I have nothing to declare except my genius.”
Me: Sweet, bye 🙂

Signing Prints! Unboxing the ARC! The moon lamp! All the awesome writers and drawers! Bianca Stone! Tom Hart! Alexander Rothman of Ink Brick! Chelsey Clammer! I won her knit hat! Donna Talarico being her amazing kind self! Kevin Beerman in a dinosaur costume! Believing I won $1,000 from The Pinch and then getting a free issue instead and reading a lovely essay in it by Olivia Dunn about driving through prairie grass in Iowa! MotionPoems!

Then I have to think about seeing a manatee breathe. The slow patience in the wait for it to surface, just a nose up for air. Then down again. Then the wait. Ah, a breath.

I think about cedar tree knees. Lettuce Lakes. Great egrets snatching up fingerlings in a swamp. Orchids. And the trees.

peace out 🙂

p.s. you can still get my signed prints with pre-orders of my book, By the Forces of Gravity, through Books by Hippocampus!

 

Patched Pants

I thought readers might like a peek at the real patched pants that I based my outfit on in By the Forces of Gravity (pre-sales start March 7!). I didn’t have any money for clothes, but my step-great-grandmother had taught me to sew when I was about five-years-old (during her sermons on sin, I would stitch lavender satchels for her undergarment drawers), so I kept my one pair of pants alive by blanketing them with patches. I would trade patches for sewing favors, swipe patches off of jackets at stores and people gave them to me because they liked my pants.

I wore these pants for years (tweens and teens). They became my voice and my armor. And so when I was picking out clothes for cartoon-me, I only considered the patched pants. And then had to choose a shirt to go with them, the peace-sign shirt I found in the free-box of my imagination. My old button-up cowboy shirt was just too hard to draw over and over again and didn’t hit the spirit of the times as well as my imaginary peace-sign shirt. The cartoon patched pants change with every panel, which I thought was an okay way to indicate the evolving nature of these pants.

Anyhow, I hope you enjoy this picture of my patched pants.

my patched pants, front view

Love Is…

from my sketches in By the Forces of Gravity

Today I’m thinking about love
Luna would be turning 57 today
I’m thinking about how true all the things
She taught me have been
How love can’t be contained
That any attempt to hold it in place
Is met by loss
I’m a slow learner when it comes to love
It may be an infinite set of times I’ve tried
To hang onto love
Only to feel it evaporate in my hands
The great thing about infinite sets
Is there are an infinite number of them
So I’m also working on expanding
My set of all the times I got love
By not trying to get it and keep it

Book Cover Reveal

So excited to share the beautiful book cover for By the Forces of Gravity, my memoir that will release through Books by Hippocampus on June 19 2018! The memoir is a hybrid form of cartoons and free verse. It includes 200 of my pencil drawings (like the figures on the cover). I’ll keep everyone posted when preorders start up.

By the Forces of Gravity Book Cover

Book Under Contract!

My book, By the Forces of Gravity, is being published through Books by Hippocampus! The signed contract finally made it through snail mail to the press in Lancaster, Pennsylvania (where I’ll be in September to talk about drawing out words at HippoCamp 2017, a creative nonfiction writers conference).

From the Books by Hippocampus press release:

“Rebecca Fish Ewan’s illustrated coming-of-age memoir By the Forces of Gravity is told through drawings and free verse. Set in early-1970s Berkeley, California, Rebecca’s story reflects on a childhood friendship cut short by tragedy. In an era of laissez-faire parenting, Rebecca drops out of elementary school and takes up residence in a kids commune—no parents allowed!—and we follow her, bestie Luna, and their hippie cohorts as they search for love, acceptance, and cosmic truths. Full of adventure and heartache, By the Forces of Gravity promises to pull you in.”

Link to the full press release on the Hippocampus website

I drew cartoon-me right after I signed the contract. Still not sure why I fixated on my imaginary outfit when all I was thinking was: “I just signed a book contract!” On the right is serious-author-me at the Desert Botanical Gardens, taken by my friend Charissa.

book contract day

rebecca fish ewan

photograph by Charissa Lucille

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s been such a long journey to get to this point and I’m grateful to everyone who encouraged me and gave me input as the book evolved. I’ll post pre-order and release info as soon as it’s set.

 

 

Moments of Joy in a Ridiculous World

So, happiness no longer interests me as a goal
It’s a distraction from life itself
Instead I’m committed to navigating through all the mucky muck
And focusing on moments of joy

However
Some things really piss me off

Such as: Lolita being selected by other authors as the best book of the 20th century. A book that turned adult male sexual predation of teenaged girls into literature. As a woman who as a young girl was sexually preyed on by men, this makes my skin crawl.

This same group seemed only able to recognize Virginia Woolf and Jane Austen as great female authors in the entire history of literature. Ridiculous.

Here are some links to venues that acknowledge women exist as more than muses and objects of desire and that millions of women write:
Vela Magazine
Hip Mama
Mutha Magazine
Unchaste Readers
Una Comics
Feminist Press
Literary Mama
Seal Press
Dirty Diamonds
Wasted Ink Zine Distro
There are hoards more, but just listing these gave me a moment of joy 🙂
tiny joys 1 cover

In the Meantime

So, as I anxiously await submissions for the next issue of GRAPH(feeties) [extended deadline July 17, 2016], here’s a one-page take-away I made in April for a writing workshop. I did a session on using drawing to help yank words onto the page, for those times when they aren’t spilling out on their own accord. It features my first attempt at creating a superhero, The Penciller, not to be confused with The Inker, because one has an eraser on her ass (yes, my pencils are gendered female) while I imagine The Inker to be opaque and permanent in her actions (which seems almost villainous).

Have no Fear! The Penciller is Here!

Have no Fear! The Penciller is Here!