I am still working on a book of short stories, tentatively called Who Are You Kidding? And Other Stories of Strange Change. I have written these stories over some time, so my initial drafts of the book did not include stories of the pandemic. This didn’t bother me so much, since many of the stories are quite fantastical (surreal), and are not set in any specific era.

Yet, as the book has come closer to completion, it felt more and more wrong, given how overwhelming the pandemic has been. So, despite two great forces of resistance – my natural laziness and my “just wanting to get this done already”, I have been working over the last few weeks on stories that are set in the pandemic (and that also, I hope, fit into the theme of the book.)

And I like the new stories! So, a great relief.

Now, comes the problem of fitting everything together, and, specifically deciding which of the older stories to take out. Again, laziness and “just wanting to get this done” can be big blocks. (I had already spent a fair amount of time ordering the older groups of stories.)

Ordering stories (or poems or drawings–even hanging an art show–for that matter) is a strange activity. I tend to do it by feel. Often, I just know, or almost know, that it should be this one, and this one and, now this. This unanalytical approach seems to mostly work if I can let myself be free, yet also honest (that is, if I let myself see when it isn’t working, and try something else.) When it works well, it seems magical, for then the ordering creates a flow/reverberation between the separate stories, that somehow connects and expands each one.

Anyway, I know this all sounds like gobbledy-gook without the book. I just wanted to touch base; I do hope to have the book out soon.

In the meantime, here is a group of sketch portraits from an online drawing class (The Vigorous Figure at SVA) with Peter Hristoff.  They are quick and awkward, but sort of illustrate the idea of unplanned flow. I should note here that Peter is wonderful in terms of encouraging the models to work in certain ways, so he is very conscious of flow!  But the size of my paper, my sketches, and the actions of my charcoal are so much out of my control, that I am always very pleased when different sketches seem to come together.

Take care. 

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