Words and Pictures II: Growing Up

Check out Words and Pictures Part I, about my early interest in the verbal and the pictorial.

My family loved to read. As we reached high school, paperback books often went the rounds, with each reader initialing the inside cover. When the book had been read by everyone, it landed in a box by the door and my mother carted it back to the used book store, only to return with a fresh crop. In later years, she owned that store, and the books were mailed back and forth to her from our far-away homes.

The writing continued, too. We wrote long, funny, descriptive letters back to my mother, who compiled them, typed them up, and mailed copies to everyone with her own additions — our early version of “reply all.”

Archival snapshot: Mom at her used book store.

Still retreating into images, I illustrating my journals and built a portfolio that won me an art scholarship. But once I reached college, English classes had a stronger pull than Art, and I soon helped transform the college literary magazine into an Arts magazine of equal parts pictures and words. When I graduated with a degree in English and became a teacher, words became absolutely pivotal in my life. But then I switched tracks again and began teaching visual art, eventually designing a course called Storytelling that tried to combine the two avenues of expression.

As a full-time writer, I’ve returned to words as the fulcrum of my creative life. Only without pictures, my writing machine stalls. Why? Find out in Words and Pictures III: The Crutch.

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