Thursday, March 26, 2015


Wouldn't you want to know the rest of Anna's story?!
Good thing No. 2 about facebook™®: It's a de facto forum of storytellers.

Which ain't surprising, since by its nature facebook™® is a megatool for tales.

Daily — hourly! — you and I read tales there heavy and light, grandiose and haiku, vulnerable and vague, from hither and very, very yon.

I'm delighted that this social medium attracts people who love to tell stories, and tell them so well, whether spun from pure invention or dragged heavily from life.

Also not surprising: Many of the tellers hail from the south — the southern United States and the south of England. Something about those places seem to make it a sin not to tell a good story.

Cressida in England, for example, invigorates a familiar game — imagining the lives and purposes of people passing by in the shopping mall or airport — to another level. She has fashioned hilarious and weighty backstories for fellow travelers on her daily train commute, and dispatches the goings-on among the regulars and irregulars, even if all they're really doing is sitting and reading and chatting.

In the world Cressida has created, they are spies and saboteurs, social and professional climbers, and closet clowns, progressing through their sundry struggles in episodic detail that deepens the lives Cressida has forged for them.

If the real people ever found out about these daily stories … or maybe they're really as Cressida describes and she is a journalist on the front lines of British commuter life.

Zane, an English teacher in Mississippi, can describe the day in ordinary heartbeats, can lay his life open about the struggles of family and faith, can deliver Southern satire, and then can let rip a story so raucous I want to ask — but don't know how without offending — "Come on, did that really happen?!"

(He, politely, says it really did.)

What makes the stories so important to me are their power to evoke images — so strong that I have to stop reading and look out the window, watching the pictures build behind my eyes.

And I just have to draw.

Another wonderful storyteller is someone I have swum with (in fact, Cressida and Zane are swimmers: A connection?). She goes by Anna and I imagine a mug of good hot coffee in my hand, across the table from Anna in a shop somewhere, while she tells true tales of her layered life.

Tales that make me feel I have been standing still all my life.

The illustration above comes from one of her stories from childhood. I could not help but draw it.

Anna's dad once gave her opossum babies, she tells, to care for after mama possum was killed. They became her boon companions, hanging on her while she went through life. They even wound their tails over her bicycle handlebars and rode upside down with her.

See? How could you scrub that image from your mind? Why would you ever want to?

While reading that, I had to pick up the nearest black Prismacolor®™ pencil and put down in my sketchbook what I saw building in my head. Then I photocopied the result onto heavy bristol (thanks very much, kindly FedEx Office® technician near my house; no thanks at all to the FedEx Office®™ person in the next nearest office, who didn't even want to try and help), and painted over with watercolor.

It's one of my favorite techniques, because the toner resists water and therefore color, and the blacks remain black.

OK, enough technical talk.

This is about storytellers. I hope Anna turns that story into a book. I hope Cressida turns her tales into a book too; I see many keep asking her to. I hope Zane keeps enriching us with stories of his time and place, so foreign and now so familiar.

Keep telling! I want to keep drawing.

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