Tuesday, May 21, 2019

It's About the Journey (or Journal) 

"Gramps" Memory Books

A few years ago, after moving into my new place I discovered a box of sketchbooks. Empty sketchbooks. I realized I'd moved with them at least twice. They were roughly A5 format, some were stitch bound, others were wire coil bound, some were 80 pages, some were almost 200 pages but all of them were blank, open white pages. I determined I should either use them or give them away. Giving away some were easy, but I couldn't give up others and I didn't know why. I decided I would have to start using them. For whatever reason it made natural sense to use them as they were intended, as journals. It seemed just as natural to use the comic book format - either four boxes or six or more to simply fill in what was going on during any given day. Plus, I felt I wanted to teach myself how to tell stories in that format. When I began I almost obsessively drew everyday. At some point that seemed too much and there was about a four month gap when I only drew three or four times. Since then I usually do two or three a week and they capture the most ridiculously mundane details of my life. Dentist visits, biking in the rain, baking bread, going for a run, or reading on the couch. I'm not sure you'd really learn anything about me from them other than I have terrible penmanship and the quality of the drawing has remained woefully poor, but I will say, occasionally, a page of wordless images are some of the best things I've ever done.

Seeing this short film on The Atlantic and hearing the narrator's father talk about his father's journals and how sometimes he would just grab a journal from the bookshelf and relive moments from the past resonated with me. I do the same thing even though I only have been doing it since 2015 and only have eight sketchbooks. Still, I can recall the week around Mom's heart surgery, or a summer trip or a weekend when something odd happened.

Curiously verbose. Absurdly quotidian.

Page from one of my own journals

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