September 26, 2010

A Visual Journal

In the summer of 2008, I had some minor knee surgery, which required me to indulge in all sorts of edible and visual treats, as well as new books and magazines, nothing too heavy. Okay, for me, that might be a graphic biography of Harvey Pekar's cancer journey, Our Cancer Year, which actually was very serious and sad, but also interesting and amazing. You can find it here on Amazon. Pekar, the author of American Splender, passed away this year--check out WKSU's website on Pekar.

I discovered Pekar, like many wonderful writers I've "met" in my life (pre-WWW) through my local library stacks. Also, Lynda Barry's books were there, and I was mesmorized by her drawings and humor and raw honesty in One Hundred Demons. Here is a link to Barry's work and her books.

Which brings me to the personal... several times I've tried to keep journals. It's never worked. Ever. No matter how lovely the journal or earnest my beginning efforts. Perhaps it is better. Perhaps the collage that is my memory, somewhat faded, "distressed" here and there like an altered-art technique, "embellished" with moments captured on film, create just as real of a past as words on a page I'd read years later and wonder "Who was I then?"

Still...time isn't standing still and what seems like everyday events now might be the thing in ten years that I really wished I'd buckled down and noted in detail. Conversations with my sons, where Mark and I spent our vacations. What books I'd liked, authors I'd worked with... where my artwork went... how my dog looks when he falls asleep on the couch... It might be so very very important, to me. Probably not to anyone else; diaries, by their nature, allow self-absorption. I want to be able to sit and look at scrapbooks and drawings and remember this wonderful collection of years called My Life. Maybe that is self-centered. Maybe it is pride.

I think it is my way of living joyful events twice. When they happen and when I remember them. And remembering sorrow, how I coped and how I got through it. Remembering people who passed on--how precious are my memories of those no longer here. It is all important to me. And, under the haze of a few days of pain medication and a really great thing called the Polar machine (which kept my knee nice and numb for a good two weeks)...I started drawing a visual journal.

I didn't draw them for anyone but myself. And I share this as an encouragement for you to try the same. Whether with words, lines, photos, video, or a scrapbook... preserve your memories, remember where you came from, and dream of where you would like to go. Don't judge your words or your drawing ability. Don't over-analyze. Put it down. Put it all down. Embrace it and release it, simultaneously.

Here are some links on keeping a Visual Journal.

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