Progress report

September 10th, 2011 | Uncategorized

I’m drawing and drawing, on deadline for the memoir I’ve been working on for the past five years. It kinda freaks me out that the book is already up on, considering that it’s far from finished. But I guess it’s also motivating. The book will have seven chapters, for a total of around 280 pages. So far I’ve got 116 pages done…that’s the first time I’ve allowed myself to tally them up.

Thanks to the people who wished me a happy birthday on the last post. Today I’m 51. And I get to draw all day!

73 Responses to “Progress report”

  1. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    And a belated happy birthday to you too! I am so excited that you have 118 pages done. I always believe that you don’t really know what you think until you start writing about it, or in your case drawing. I know you plan scrupulously before you draw, but what do you do when the drawing suggests other avenues?

  2. Zoey says:

    This fills me with joy and inspiration. Can’t wait!

  3. Ginjoint says:

    What a tease.

    First, happy happy birthday!! And apologies for not knowing it was your birthday. I’m not good at that sort of thing, unfortunately. I’ve been close friends with a woman for 25 years, and I STILL can’t remember which day in March is her birthday. Forgetful? Selfish? Inconsiderate? All of the above.

    Second, 280 pages! Ay! I just checked, and Fun Home (which I just accidentally typed as Fund Home…hm) is listed as 232 pages, so there’ll be even more to digest this time around.

    And of course I hope you and your neighbors are doing O.K. in Vermont.

  4. lilia says:

    hooray! I have so so so been wishing for new words and images from your marvelous brain! πŸ™‚ and happy belated birthday, also!

  5. Alex K says:

    How much labour this represents!

  6. Happy birthday, Alison. You are a month older than me. I love that you get to draw all day today. That’s a gift for everybody, says me. Great to see the boxes full of drawings.

  7. Kate L says:

    Happy birthday, A.B.! As another virgo, I’ve got to ask… do you feel especially connected to the earth? My octogenarian aunt in Texas unexpectedly called to wish me happy birthday last Friday evening. I’ve been a favorite relative of hers since she heard that I was a Hillary Clinton delegate at the local Democratic county convention in 2008. She was also telling me that she liked Obama’s address to Congress. All ominous signs for the Republicans in Texas next year, if she’s typical.

  8. Andrew B says:

    Happy Birthday Alison.

    I hope you got to take some time off for a nice dinner, or something else a little out of the ordinary. And I hope you got a lot of drawing done.

  9. H^A^P^P^Y B^I^R^T^H^D^A^Y from the Rockies to the Green Mountains! Glad you get to sink in to your art all day.

  10. Cheryl says:

    Thanks for the update. Glad you are safe.

  11. A belated happy birthday all the way from Canada, Alison. I’m really looking forward to what you’re working on.

    I read your coming out story comic from Gay Comics again recently and it resonated with my own discovery I was gay a few years ago, especially all those “how do I know for sure” moments of doubt and the building of confidence in my identity.

  12. NLC says:

    What wouldn’t anyone here give for the chance to read through the set of color-coded 3X5 cards on the bulletin board in the background.

    (I can’t escape this image of, thirty years from now, these very cards forming the basis of someone’s doctoral thesis.)

  13. Catherine says:

    Your enthusiasm and skill inspire those of us who struggle to draw. Thank you for sharing. Your insights have kept me grounded over many years.

    Birthday wishes from London town.

  14. Cecile says:

    Alison, please tell me you have a fire-&-flood-proof safe in which you keep these numbered archival boxes.

    It’s raining like mad here, the kind of weather that makes hand-drawn art feel very vulnerable. (The same kind of weather, incidentally, that will be perfect for reading your new magnum opus in.)

    Oh the wetness of it all!

    Looking much forward to the coming out of your book.

    Belated birthday wishes from Luxembourg.

  15. L says:

    How thrilling to see your work in process! Thanks for sharing, Alison.

    I echo Cecile’s plead – you must physically protect these originals and also scan then immediately and back them up if you aren’t already πŸ™‚

  16. spoilsport says:

    Looks great! I have missed your drawing and art. Thank you so much for sharing.

  17. Ready2Agitate says:

    Woo-hoo, Alison Bechdel! Happy Bird-day 2 uuuuu! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  18. Str8 But Not Narrow says:

    Have thought all day about what the DTWOF would have said about the 10-year anniversary of 9/11. Miss ’em a ton but am also looking forward to the next book. Happy birthday from Tennessee!

  19. Aunt Soozie says:

    Happy Belated Birthday Alison!!! So excited for your new book!
    Hope to see you when you go out meeting, greeting, speaking and signing! S. is fourteen now and, I believe, old enough to tag
    along to a reading if something is scheduled near enough to us. She started High School last week… in a performing arts program for drama.
    They grow up. Sigh.
    Just like your books.
    You think, do the research, work hard (sometimes), perseverate, exhaust yourself, get frustrated,walk away, try again, make mistakes, have moments of brilliance… folks always chime in with opinions… often unsolicited… publishers or editors or friends,neighbors, relatives try to tell you what’s right… you feel certain you know what you’re doing… then not… ultimately you cast them out there; your kids, your works of art and hope for the best.
    It’s still premature, even though you have the due date… but I have to say, I can’t wait to meet your new baby and maybe you’ll get to meet mine!

  20. Suzanonymous says:

    Always amazing to see your work in progress. And Happy Birthday!

  21. Kate L says:

    A.B. … you’re not 51, you’re fifty-young! I’m now 57, so I can say that, young one. πŸ™‚

    Last night, that nice, young Dr. Maddow was talking about Vermont on her television machine program. The wash-out of a key bridge in flooding from Hurricane Irene has left the hardy Vermontaineers on foot! I shouted at the television machine, “Yeah, ya’ CAN get there from here, ayah!”… I lead a quiet life, out here on the High Plains.

  22. chloe says:

    Happy belated birthday, Ms. Bechdel !! Much success to you !!

  23. Kate L. says:

    …Here is the link to The Rachel Maddow Show story about how the loss of Route 4 in Vermont has been met by people commuting by trail, with portapotties and other amenities set up to assist them.

  24. Mentor says:

    [As an aside, folks in Chicago, Boston, NYC and at Brandeis should check out the “Events” link for newly listed events with AB over the next month or so. –Mentor]

  25. Anna in Albuquerque says:

    I’m glad they are letting you out of the house for a few days, Alison. You need a break. May you return refreshed and energized.

  26. Kate L says:

    … Wow! According to the Events link, A.B. hasn’t been out of the house since April!!! Have a nice tour, A.B. Just don’t travel Route 4 in Vermont…

  27. hairball_of_hope says:

    Dammit… AB comes to town and I will be on travel…

    (… goes back to her padded cube sulking …)

  28. […] postedΒ the progress report for her upcoming memoir […]

  29. C. says:

    What happened to “Love Life: A Case Story”?

  30. Andrew B says:

    C, 30, the project evolved from being primarily about Alison’s romantic life with attention to her mother, to having the priority reversed. This has been discussed at least once in the last couple of months, and at least once about six months to a year ago. You could review recent threads if you want to see how Alison presented the change. She didn’t provide a lot of details.

  31. Kate L says:

    hairball… I was visiting my friend Cheryl Back East, when one evening she had to drop by her office to pick up something. As I waited in the car, I could see the cubicles where she worked through the window. It was just like one of those Hollywood movies or that Steve Carell television vehicle!

    Oh, btw, in case you need something to worry about, there may be dozens of stars in our solar system’s vicinity that are ready to blow up as supernovae! Darn that Chandrasekhar Limit!!!

  32. Kate L says:

    … Earlier today, NASA announced the discovery of Tatooine. But when will they find Vulcan orbiting Epsilon Erandi??? The score in fictional homeworld detection as of today is The Force 1, The Federation 0.

  33. Renee S. says:

    Hey, hope you enjoyed your birthday, AB, and thanks for sharing the book progression with us.
    I’ve enjoyed all of the little dribs and drabs of the process.

    @everybody else! Hi! missed you guys.

  34. M. Hamilton says:

    Beautiful work, as always.

  35. Ginjoint says:

    Kate, that is so cool. But “Kepler 16b”? I know that refers to the instrument used to detect it, but jeez, just call it Tatooine, already! Easier to remember. And way more fun.

  36. Kate L says:

    Hi, Renee S! Hi, Ginjoint! πŸ™‚ Btw, did you know that Captain Janeway is from… Indiana? She even went to Indiana University in Bloomington, where I got my master’s degree!

  37. NLC says:

    Aha, a fellow Hoosier!

    NLC (BS Astrophysics/MS CS/IU)

  38. Kate L says:

    NLC #38 Hey, we both know the secret handshake! But of course, so does our fellow alumnus, former Vice President Dan Quayle*…

    *Although, Quayle was IUPUI (really), the Indiana regents system school in Indianapolis, and not our beloved IU Bloomingulch, where all us hippies hung out. One of my fellow IU geology grads back in the day told me that Smallville, Kansas, must be the squarest place on Earth if it produced me. He is now a tenured geology professor here at Moo U.

  39. Andrew B says:

    We hijack interrupt this blog to bring you a special update. MacArthur Foundation officials have announced that Kay Ryan is a Genius. Sydney Krukowski is reported to be grinding her teeth with envy. Now back to your regularly scheduled blog.

  40. Kate L says:

    Andrew B (#40) Good news about Kay Ryan being a recognized MacArthur Fellow genius, but hijacking interrupting this blog is supposed to be my job! πŸ™‚ Btw, I just came back from a Moo U campus celebration of the repeal of DADT. I never served in the military (my postdoc with the Navy was as a civilian), but I was happy to attend. And, I met a lot of good-looking women!

  41. Kate L says:

    Dateline Geneva, This Just In… scientists at the supercolossal supercollider run by CERN in Europe have announced the discovery of a particle that travels faster than light. Captain Janeway, call your office! Call them by yesterday, which you should be able to do, now!!! Equally astonishing, this FTL, supraluminal particle is not the fictional tachyon, but an already-discovered particle called a neutrino, which makes CERN scientists wonder why this behaviour has not been noticed before. Well, there is a simple explanation for that… the faster-than-light neutrinos have only just now arrived from the future!

  42. Ian says:

    Belated birthday wishes AB! Glad you’re ok after the recent flooding in VT. And it’s so exciting to see the chapters.

    Is it just this stationery geek that had a twinge of envy over the folders you’re keeping your chapters in?

  43. Diamond says:

    Nice to hear from Ian.

  44. Dr. Empirical says:

    Kate, did you happen to watch Big Bang Theory last night? The physicis geeks were in a paintball tournament, and to lure the geology team out of position, one of them yelled
    “Geology isn’t a real science!”
    He went down in a hail of paintballs.

  45. Kate L says:

    Dr. Empirical (#45)

    Hmmm… no. I saw the first minute of the show, when something told me to switch over to MSNBC. Must have been my geodar! I tell my students that geology is actually an applied science, using other disciplines like chemistry and biology to understand the earth and, now, other planets. All too often, non-majors sign up for Geology 100 at Moo U thinking they were getting around taking a science elective. But you’ve touched a nerve. When I was astudent, people would ask me if being a geology major was “enough of a science” to satisfy my father, who was a professor of chemistry at Moo U. We all have fathers.

  46. Dr. Empirical says:

    I’m certainly not disputing that geology is a science! I just thought the line, and the (apparently not unusual) response, were funny.

    I was the only son to not move back home after college. That alone was enough to earn paternal approval. My failure to produce offspring, though, is a constant source of dissatisfaction for my mother.

  47. Alex the Bold says:

    I sure hope Mo, Lois, Sparrow and the rest can be snuck into some of the panels as passers-by.

    God, I miss the Dykes. But I’m looking forward to Alison’s book.

    (And if you’re trying to raise money, I have two words. Are you listening? … Hair.)

    You could shave your head and sell the hair on eBay. Abraham Lincoln apparently did this, because bits of his hair are ALWAYS coming up for auction.

    You could be richer than butter soaked in cream.

    Mmmmmm… butter. Cream.

  48. Feminista says:

    News flash! I’ll get to meet DTWOF blog stalwarts Therry (minus St.Jerome)and Ready2Agitate in Boston a week from Sun. I’ll be in Beantown for a conference,Our Bodies,Our Future: Advancing Health and Human Rights for Women and Girls,held at Boston Univ. I contributed to the chapter on relationships in the forthcoming 40th anniversary edition of Our Bodies,Ourselves,and the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective will honor all contributors at a reception after the Oct.1 conference. We’ll each get a copy of the anthology signed by the collective members.

    My sister gave me the newsprint edition of the 1971 OBOS; I’ve used subsequent editions when I taught Intro to Women’s Studies. When I was on a solidarity trip to El Salvador in 2007,I gave Spanish edition (Nuestros Cuerpos,Nuestras Vidas) copies to a community health clinic and a rural health promoter.

  49. rinky says:

    I miss the DTWOF gang too. Strangely my main concern has been, is Raffi doing ok these days? Seemed like he was in a bit of a vulnerable place. (Can you tell I used to teach high school?)

  50. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    Raffi has been hijacked by the Marines and is on his third tour of Afghanistan. Toni is deeply involved with Moms of AFghan Soldiers and sends Raffi lots of camouflage socks and tofu jerky, which he trades with his vegan buddies for cigarettes.

  51. Kate L says:

    Feminista (#49) Congrats on being a contributor to the new OBOS! Wow, when I was young in the early 70’s I knew there was such a book, but out in TinyTown it was The Book That Dare Not Speak Its Name! Probably still is…

  52. Feminista says:

    Thanks,Kate L. Well,it’s been translated into many languages and is available in every continent. In El Salvador,where abortion is officially illegal but happens anyway,our interpreter informed the health care workers of the chapters on reprod.rights; they didn’t freak out and were delighted to get more info on women’s health care out to the people. Folks can read the chapters they like and ignore the ones they don’t like,and the international editions present the info in culturally sensitive ways.

    I know what you mean about the controversy on sexuality and other issues. I’m so proud that a small group of determined women had the courage to challenge the health care establishment in 1971 and distribute those early newsprint copies.

  53. Diamond says:

    I help to run a charity second-hand bookstall and we get 1970s editions of OBOS in from time to time. Sadly, no-one seems to want to buy them, but they do go very quickly when I leave them on the free shelf of a local shop. They never go in the recycling box!

  54. Kate L says:

    The city of Lawrence, Kansas, home to the University of Kansas, has just added transgendered people as a protected class in its city human rights ordinance. Lesbians and gay men were already in the ordinance as protected classes. The University of Kansas is the arch-rival of Moo U, and the city of Lawrence, Kansas, is the arch-rival of Smallville. Are we going to let Lawrence get away with being more progressive than we are? Give me an “L”! Give me a “G”! Give me a “B”! Give me a “T”!

    I’m not surprised that the city of Lawrence, Kansas, would take this step. Years ago, when I attended a scientific conference at Berkeley, and was walking around smiling at all the women geology majors, I thought to myself, “Why, this place reminds me of Lawrence, Kansas! Except for that Bay thing, and the city on the other side of the Bay”. Really, I did.

  55. Aunt Soozie says:

    Hi Old Friends. Here you all are!! Feminista… that is so cool. Loved that book as a teenager… read it over and over. Made me feel like a strong informed womon-identified-womon! πŸ™‚ Ian, I just bought some yummy folders at Target. Am I allowed to say Target here? Okay, signing back out.
    Aunt Soozie

  56. Feminista says:

    Hi folks,greetings from Boston. Yeah,finally I get to do something exciting. Today I’ve immersed myself in Boston history,going on the Freedom Trail. Went on a guided tour for 1.5 miles,then did 90% of the rest on my own. Visited two churches built in the 1700s,one which suppported abolition and had black members (though they had to worship from the balcony). Staying at the Hostel International-Boston; have met women from Australia,New Zealand,Belgium,Korea and Japan. Have also seen some young men from eastern Africa.

    I’m on the hostel computer so I have to pay for each minute…Good to “see”you again,Aunt Soozie,and hello Diamond. Are you in the UK?


  57. Andrew B says:

    Brandeis has a page showing the time, location, and title for Alison’s talk a couple of weeks from Monday.

    Also, pardon me for commenting twice, but I want to stay out of the spam trap…

  58. Andrew B says:

    While looking around at Brandeis, I discovered that there will be a live webcast of Feminista’s conference tomorrow. The page is here. It will start at 9:00 am Eastern time on Saturday, Oct 1. (It actually says Eastern Standard, but I have to think that’s a mistake, as we’re still on daylight savings. If anyone outside the Americas is interested, that’s UTC minus four hours. So e.g. 1:00 pm in London.)

  59. Alex K says:

    A benefit for Gay Youth this afternoon, hot summer sun (England! But yes! Hot, summer sun!) pouring through the door, at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern. I bought a refrigerator magnet and a jar of damson preserves, three pints of Kronenberg lager, a five-minute foot-reflexology session — HEAVEN — and a haircut on the Big Stage. It was like being at Madwimmin when Jezanna was still queen.

  60. Kate L says:

    Alex K (#60) hmmm… a hot day in Olde London Town? Reminds me of when I spoke to my friend, Cristi, in Tacoma, Washington, on the Puget Sound. She complained about the heat. I asked, “How hot is it?”. She said, “80 (80 F, or 27 C)”. heh. Try 108 F (42 C), which it was in Smallville on the High Plains, just a few weeks ago!

    Hey, Feminista must have flown right over Smallville to get from San Fran to Boston! I was the one on the ground waving her fist in the Revolutionary Sisters Salute as she passed overhead! πŸ™‚

  61. Kate L says:

    OMG, Alex K! I just checked with (the home cable netweork of truth, justice and Dr. Rachel Maddow, here in the USA), and they are running an article on the record English heat! Oh, and Andrew B., don’t worry about making successive postings! At least, I never worry about making successive postings…

  62. feminista says:

    hi folks–Conference was great. Best speakers were Byllie Avery of Black Women’s Health group and Loretta ?,director of a women of color health group. Got my book signed by editors and contributors.Had lunch with my oousin Daniel and his wife Deborah,who live in Boston. Now to read my copy (and I found my name on the contributors list). Thanks,Kate L,for the salute,but our flight went the northern route,through MT,ND,etc. More later as Ive already paid $4 to use the net today at the hostel. Tomorrow: lunch with Therry and R2A,and travel to visit cousin Ruth and her family. Rock on,y’all!

  63. Alex K says:

    @62 / Kate L: Well, I indeed THOUGHT it was warm, but I might have been misled; to be honest, I was rather hoping to be misled: The woman who gave me the reflexology treatment was hot. I’m easily confused when the hormones are surging (“Is it warm in here or is it just me?” “Just you, dear. That’s what cold showers are made for.”). Good to have independent confirmation!

  64. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    Hey gang, Feminista and Ready2agitate and I finally got together! We went to a wonderful Ethiopian cafe near Symphony Hall in Boston. R2A brought us all presents dug up from her vast trove of things she has to get rid of so that there is more room for her adorable adopted baby boy Noah. Feminista brought millions of pictures of her adopted daughter. It was a wonderful experience for me to meet two such dedicated activists and to eat spicy Ethiopian food. Feminista and I shared a dessert called milfoil, which is an invasive aquatic plant my town spends thousands of dollars annually to eradicate, but that’s just how they spell millefueille in Ethiopian. Probably wouldn’t have enjoyed the weed anyway.

    Let me know when any of you are coming to town! I’d love to meet you!

  65. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Therry (#65)

    That sounds yummy, and must have been a lot of fun to finally meet DTWOFers in person. If the restaurant is really authentic Ethiopian, there is no silverware, you pick up the food with the injera bread. That can be fun or not, depending on how you feel about eating with your hands. My faves are the red lentils in Berbere sauce, and kale with potatoes. Damned if I can remember the Ethiopian names of those dishes.

    De-clique-ification note: Injera has a consistency somewhere between an undercooked crΓͺpe and a damp washcloth. It’s used as the plate and as the utensil in Ethiopian food, where it soaks up the tasty stews, sauces, etc., and you get to eat it, no dishwashing!

  66. Eva says:

    Doonesbury started a strip, this week, on the end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell here:

  67. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    Hi Hairball! Yes, there was no silverware, aand we scooped up our food with delicious sour spongy injera. We had luscious spinach and potatoes and collards and potatoes and Ethiopian potato salad and incredible bark tea. We asked for our food mildly spiced, but it was still redolent with hot and flavorful spices.

  68. Feminista says:

    Hi folks,
    Just arrived back in Portland. Yes, the food was good and as Therry described. Had eaten at two Ethiopian restaurants in Portland before; both used a large round piece instead of the strips we got. A wonderful meeting which took much planning but was worth it; great conversation with personal and political connection,just what I like. I gave Therry and Ready hot-off-the-press DVDs and political buttons in Turkish which translated as My body is my own,both obtained at the above-mentioned OBOS conference.

    Time magazine has included OBOS as among the top 100 best non-fiction books. And it all started with a small group of women in Boston/Cambridge,which later became the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective. Margaret Mead’s words are applicable here: “Never doubt that a small group of concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed,it’s the only thing that ever has.” So get your copy of the 9th edition of Our Bodies Ourselves,at Powell’s online or at a library near you.

  69. Feminista says:

    P.S.And here’s a link about the conference. The article mentioned the chapter on relationships,which is the one to which I contributed.

  70. Feminista says:

    er,”celebrates.” Gimme a break,I just flew across the country. πŸ™‚

  71. Timmytee says:

    So–we’re lookin’ at–what–about a Christmas week pub date?

  72. Paula says:

    Just becoming more familiar with your work. Ordering Fun Home as gift for holidays. Super belated Happi B’day. The next 50 are gonna be even more Fun-filled. You bet.