The Writing Life

Writing and Sketching


Once, I drew a bowl. It was perfectly round and otherwise unremarkable. Just an ordinary cereal or soup bowl.

I drew this ordinary bowl for my then-boyfriend who was an artist, perhaps hoping he’d see how cosmically connected we were, you know, because I could do something he could do.

photoWhen I gave him the drawing, his reaction was unremarkable, kind of like the bowl. Then he patted me on the head and left the room to grab a beer. I didn’t draw anymore bowls. Sad, I know.

There are several artists in my family. My mother, a step-father, a sister, an uncle or two. Even my dad used to paint and draw quite well until he gave it up for reasons I still don’t understand. Growing up, there were artists all around me, drawing and sculpting and painting. I had other talents, but never gave drawing much thought.

Until I talked to Dan Vera, whom I interviewed for this blog last week. In addition to writing, Dan sketches the world around him. He is of the mind that drawing is “a good discipline to try to develop as a writer…because it forces you to slow down” and pay attention to detail. Makes sense, no?photo

Maybe all writers experience the act of writing in a visual way. When I write, I often feel as though I’m describing what I see in my imagination. The idea that I can improve my memory by exercising the muscle that allows me to see texture and detail in my mind’s eye is exciting. So, I’ve started doodling, sketching, and paying attention to details. photoThe wrinkles in a coat hanging on a chair. The way my dog’s hair flows in different directions. The angles on my nightstand.

The other day, I drew a bunch of apples in a bowl. My second bowl ever. And not for a boy or because I think I can actually draw. I just want to see more and write better.


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