Saturday, April 28, 2012

On being private in public spaces

One of my goals for today is to write my inaugural blog post, which has been swirling around in my head for quite a while now, long before I actually set up the blog.  I've been thinking about writing a blog for a while now.  Ever since I self-published my first comic at SPACE in 2011, people have been asking me if I have a website.  As I've continued to write more comics, I figured maybe it was time to get something set up, so that I can say, yes I have a website.

I've been writing for most of my life - poems, journals, personal essays, and such (not to mention the writings I did as assignments).  These have largely stayed hidden away in boxes in my closet, only a few of them ever being shared with another person.  One of the firmest, deepest lessons of my childhood was the need to be secretive, to never talk outside the walls of our house about what went on inside of it.  In some ways all of the talking I needed to do as a child came out in what I wrote, most of which I burned up in the alley when I was sixteen.  

For a very long time I have toyed with the idea of breaking that silence, of telling my story.  For a while I imagined it as a book of personal essays, but even though I wrote some, I never shared them.  For the last 6 and a half years, though, I've been working with the same therapist, struggling (and largely succeeding) to understand and not be trapped by my tendency towards depression.  I took four and a half years to get around to telling him about the central trauma in my life, and since then we've also been working on therapies designed to treat PTSD.  

Somewhere along the line, thanks to my younger daughter's interest in comics, I began reading comics - both fiction and nonfiction, and I found myself drawn to graphic memoirs.  When I started reading them, I wasn't really thinking I'd write my own.  In October of 2009, I attended my first 24-hour comic event, primarily as a chaperone for my younger daughter, who was then 15.  As I sat there and watched the others work on their comics, I decided that I’d like to try.  What I ended up with was a 14-page script for a memoir of the year I turned 16, two whole pictures, and a desire to write more comics. 

In October, 2010, I attended another 24-hour comic event, this time at Packrat Comics in Hilliard, Ohio.  This time I went with the intention of writing a comic, not sure about what other than it needed to be a simpler story than I scripted that first time.  I wrote about something I knew and called it The Care and Feeding of Cats….or How to Train Your Human

Since then I’ve branched out to write comics at other times than when staying up all night in a caffeine-fueled frenzy of creativity.  I’ve written two mini comics in a series I entitled Ruminera, from the Italian word for “she will ruminate” because I will – it’s a hobby of mine.  I've also written some shorter pieces for anthologies, including my first non-autobio comic for an anthology I edited called A Bowl Full of Happiness

Someday I will return to that script I started in October, 2009, and I will write the graphic memoir I envisioned while I was sitting there.  For now I’m enjoying learning more about the art and craft of writing comics and finding the stories I want to tell.