Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Crumple, crumple

Last weekend I reencountered Bernie McGovern. He designed the fantastic puppets for the new Neo-Futurist show BEER as well as the poster and puppets for Sansculottes' beautiful 13 Dead Husbands that I saw in March.

After the show (which anyone with even a moderate interest in craft beer, puppets, live music, or comedy should see -- yes, I liked it), I got a peek at a draft of an installment of Bernie's graphic novel, An Army of Lovers. It was a beautiful mock-up of polished black-and-white drawings with full-color illustrations popping up here and there. Soooo pretty.

Bernie was nice enough to share some here . . .

So I'm looking at this beautiful book, and Bernie says he plans to completely revise the first half of it. It's about the same page count as my novel, and like my novel, about half of it has to go, but for some reason the idea of cutting drawings feels harsher to me.

Maybe because I'm so used to writing, I give a page of drawing more respect, but there's also something essential about a drawing that makes detaching from one harder. A drawing can be taken in quickly without all that pesky reading. I can crumple up a page of writing without giving too much attention to what's on it, but crumpling up a drawing . . . it's like stomping on a puppy. Poor Bernie!

And poor me -- because every page of writing that I crumple is full of images I had in my head, images that I once thought would be good for something. And they were good for something -- good for getting me to the point where I've realized I can crumple them up.

Even though I'm getting used to it, even though I accept it and sometimes even love it, cutting and revising is hard -- harder than starting from scratch in some ways -- no matter what your medium. As much as I like Bernie's pictures, it's comforting to me to imagine him scratching them out or chopping them up because it reminds me how inescapable, and essential, revision is.