What is metaphor but a piece of fact, like a small suitcase, designed to transport an idea?
I am often struck by my mind’s ability to hold pictures. As I read I can feel my brain locking shut on the images. Movie titles that make a picture in my head are easier to recall than the others. Our current president has a gift for this. He told us the hacking of our election just might have been done by a four hundred pound person sitting on a bed . That picture and the very specificity of it it make it stick in our minds more compellingly than a bunch of faceless Russian digital hackers. Score one for the bad guys.
As I read Sapiens A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari I find I want to underline every word. It makes what I am engaged in, re-jiggering an old myth, seem so worth doing.
“Since large-scale human cooperation is based on myths , the way people cooperate can be altered by changing the myths—by telling different stories.”
You know you have tapped into a vein of truth when it all feels so obvious!
June 28th, 2014
Not for the first time I have been asked for a self portrait only to have it politely refused in favor of something more cheerfully normal. All of us are so many creatures, we wear so many hats.
This dear blogosphere is myself in my mind’s eye.
March 1st, 2017
My readers normally write to me in pencil. Letters sit at the publishers for a good six months or more, and by the time I get them the senders are all grown up and I imagine them reading War and Peace. They don’t care anymore if I have any pets or how I get my ideas or if I have any children and what their names are. But not this time. In the midst of an especially stressful flurry of the flotsam and jetsum of life coming at me, with 1099s and backround checks and bla bla bla I suddenly got a delightful thing: a nagging email from a fourth grader. I print it here, leaving out identifying details in its entirety. Thank you beloved reader ! ( I will respond as soon as I am able). You put a smile on my face! I needed your message today. Enough with fretting over your taxes, enough with dentist appointments and every other stupid detail of adult life that ties you up. Get back to work because there are readers out there that want your books! Shut up and make another.
Here’s what she said and it makes me purr:
I am in love with your books but the only thing is that you only have two books in the series Thumbelina and Cinderella. They are great books. They make me love reading. Also, my friend Libby loves your books too. We would really love if you could take the time to read this letter. And please it would make us so happy if you will respond to this email and could make more amazing books.
If you do read this letter and think about what I’m saying and think to yourself and you decide to make more books here are some Ideas: Ariel, Tangled, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, or you could do made up fairy tales, childhood stories, or even scary stories.
I think little kids would love your books as well as I do. I think if you made some little kid picture books, they would love it, I bet.
If you have read this email or letter. Thank you so much for your time. Please get back to this email as soon as possible. Thank you again so much.
and thank you!
Not normally prone to OCD I have lately become a person who does everything in threes. It began with a desire to cut down on choice. Trader Joe’s is my supermarket of choice. I am energized by its lack of choice.
My Advise To You : When unsure of how many things to do, or to buy or whatever let fairy tales be your choice and pick three (unless seven, another mystical number, seems better).
I find it a remarkably practical and mind-freeing approach to navigating through life.
April 15th, 2016
Then I discovered myths, wonder tales and fairy lore: ordinary life went on but I was diving to the bottom of the sea with weights on my feet to pick the flower of immortal life and then losing the magic elixir to a passing snake – for ever; I was dipping my finger in dragon’s blood and tasting it and then finding I could listen in on the conversation of the birds and hear what animals were saying; I was saving my numerous brothers who had been turned into swans by knitting them shirts made from nettles which I’d spun into thread with blistered, burning fingers; with Electra I was helping murder her father – I could go on, but these are the kinds of stories that kept me reading under the covers with a torch, stories that every culture created long before print or even, perhaps, writing itself.
April 3rd, 2016
I’m illustrating a story in just two colors. Which is three in a way, since the two sometimes overlap. And four if you include the white of the page. Things are often a lot more complicated, but whether you are writing with the 26 letters in the alphabet or rendering with a certain number of colors it is all about finding the patterns and revealing them. Or so it seems to me today, as clouds float by the window.
March 11th, 2016
Lately I have been feverishly experimenting with woodcutting. There’s a particular challenge when you introduce more than one color that bends my mind causing one plus one to equal 3 colors
Right now these are my two main influences: a Brazilian artist named José Borges and the logo for Mount Sinai Hospital. Soon I will post a few.