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.