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Try to Be True

November 16, 2009
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A little while ago I was looking through the archives of Keri Smith’s blog for a link I remembered her sharing WAY BACK WHEN in the GOLDEN ERA of creative blogging. Instead I stumbled upon a link she shared of John Porcellino’s story “I Saw Where the Root Hog Lives” from his King-Cat comics and stories. It kind of BLEW MY MIND. I immediately fell in love with Porcellino’s simple drawings and writing. They appeared to me as deep and rich storytelling and spoke to me directly about the power of what words and pictures can create.

I’d heard of King-Cat for FOREVER (it’s been around for 20 years!), but never paid attention to it. For whatever reason, I never picked up a zine or a book, although I saw them frequently. After seeing this comic, I couldn’t get it out of my mind. Finally, on a bad day, I went and bought Porcellino’s new book, Map of My Heart and I spent the ENTIRE day with it (and the next and the next). It is one of the most beautiful and moving things I have read in a long long time. Sometimes I think things find you when you most need them. Map of My Heart found me just at the right time. I have been SO inspired by his storytelling in words and pictures. It has reminded me so much of the purest things that make me happy in both life and creating. Thank you John Porcellino! I raise my hand to you in Denver, Colorado from Brooklyn, New York!

After Map of My Heart, I checked out from the library Porcellino’s massive book King-Cat Classix, which covers for the first ten years of King-Cat. I was really inspired by some things he said in the introduction, namely that when he started the zine he wanted something that reflected his WHOLE LIFE:

[It would be] Something that would be a direct personal statement to the world…If there was one common thread that carried through these pages, it was this: that whatever it was, it was me trying to be true to myself at the time. Whether it was happy, sad, blissed out or desperate–whatever–it was okay. And I kept drawing.

Awhile ago I made a zine of my original 30 days of fliers and while I have continued to create them, and have always had the desire to make more zines, fear always stopped me. Who cares? I thought. These aren’t as good as the first ones. These are self-indulgent. Lame, boring, etc. (repeat ad nauseum). Meanwhile, when I make the stories they immediately touch this primal part of my brain I thought I lost a long time ago. It’s the part that DELIGHTS in creating in a way that feels free, exciting, and like play. It seems to also marry three integral parts of me: the writer, the drawer, and the one that remembers. Making the one page stories teach me a lot. Often, they teach me that I can still draw without props like photos and that I can still link words together to tell stories. While I am a proud explorer of life, inspiration, creativity, and ideas–something I am exploring in my TWO UPCOMING BOOKS (yahoo!) and that I explore here quite often–I also feel that there is a piece that is increasingly missing for me. For lack of a better term, I guess you could call it the more directly ARTY part. Behind the scenes of this blog I write fiction, I paint, and then I do a little of both. Although I am getting a lot of outward “success” for the other “inspirational” stuff, I feel sometimes that these other parts can be at times more personally successful.

I know during the month I “took off” from the blog, letting the one page stories do the talking for me, my reader numbers went down (aka dropped off the face of the Earth) and it poked at the usual fear of NO ONE IS COMING TO THE PARTY, that I have spoken of SO MANY TIMES here (repeat ad nauseum), but something else happened. I felt free, more rejuvenated, and interested in the world than I had in a long time. One of the things I have discovered over the 4.5 years of keeping this blog, and in creating the work I am doing now is that I always THRIVE from a place of HONESTY and VULNERABILITY. In other words, in John’s Porcellino’s words, whenever I am actively trying to be TRUE to myself, I feel a deeper sense of success. I think I need to continue in this vain. If it doesn’t always resonate, oh well. It’s the DEEPER successes that feed me in the long run. I’ve got to keep walking the walk and showing UP and letting that speak for itself. I think, personally, as a creator AND as a reader I feel a need for that more than anything. I need it more than “self-help”, more than any more “inspiration” or “be true to yourself” or “follow your dreams” machinery. Again and again, I see that the SEARCH for feeling “true” isn’t the same as (or isn’t a REPLACEMENT for) BEING true. You’ve got to just BE it. I’ve got to just BE it. Even if I’m the only one at the party. At least there still will be cake, at least there will be music, and if there is music, there is dancing.

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