I like the power of words – short and sweet, although I can go on and on when I want. My leaning towards short goes back to my childhood hanging out with my father after school. He worked alone in a Western Union office so was able to talk with me and share what he was doing even when I was a little primary school mite. This was before email, twitter, or text and when long distance calls were expensive, so people sent telegrams for quick delivery.

People would come in, often emotionally revved up or depleted, with all kinds of urgent messages – the celebrations of love, marriage, birth, birthday, the pain of illness, loss, and death, the sudden precariousness of life, and arrangements made, changed, and broken. Since they would pay by the word, they had to relay information loaded with joy, angst, or sadness as concisely as possible. I watched my father gracefully handle their life events as he helped rewrite ramblings, eliminating words for maximum power and minimal cost. He did his work with kindness, sensitivity, and when appropriate, with humor. I loved seeing all this so, as children do, I sponged it up.

This means that when I “work,” I automatically go into short and sweet mode. Each image has its complete, quick slice of life. Another person might see an entire novel but, as much as I love a good long read, it doesn’t seem to be my way as a writer. I worried about it for a while as I filled so many notebooks with individual drawings and short sentences or their fragments, but I finally got it. This is what I am supposed to do. Short and sweet, hopefully filled with the substance and humor of life. We can thank my father.

 

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