short note

February 5th, 2008 | Uncategorized


Jeez, I’m sorry I haven’t been posting much. Haven you noticed? I’ve been working on a totally consuming project that’s taking me forever to finish. I’m contributing an essay on Vermont to an upcoming book called “State by State,” edited by Sean Wilsey and Matt Wieland. A graphic essay. I’m feeling very resentful and envious of the people contributing normal prose essays–they type something up and that’s it! But that’s only the halfway point for me. Then I have to design, photograph, sketch, draw, typeset, ink, scan, paint, and endlessly tweak every square millimeter of the fucking thing.

I have also sort of started dating someone, which I tell you because this, too, has had a deleterious effect on my blogging. I think in some ways the blog has been like a significant other for me. Or at least, an activity where I spent the time I might otherwise have been spending doing whatever it is people do with one another.

62 Responses to “short note”

  1. Cadence says:

    Congrats, AB!

    Now I’m off to go read #520. 🙂

  2. C.C. says:


  3. ravaj says:

    good for you! (but sad for those of us who dream that one fine day … … )

  4. MikeSTL says:

    Congrats on finding someone, Alison! Who deserves a s.o. more than vous?!

  5. bronislava says:

    *gasp* does that mean we’ve been dumped for another woman?!

    nice one, anyway 🙂

  6. Bookbird says:

    Shades of Sydney and Mo! But I encourage you to have a human being as your SO–it’s probably much healthier.

  7. erica says:

    My dog is my primary partner. When I figured that out, I gained so much relationship clarity.

  8. gloria says:

    i’m with erica on this one… although ravaj had a good point. 😉

  9. olivette says:

    Hooray! I am so pleased for you, ali b, you deserve someone lovely.
    How wonderful to be dating! It’s also wonderful to have been with the same gal for 10 years, of course (gosh I feel ancient), but there’s something to be said for the excitment of getting ready to meet someone you don’t know very well, the first time you hold her hand, the first time you kiss (and other things)… enjoy every moment!

    ps – didn’t Clarice (in one of the earlier books) eulogise about the thrill of unbuttoning someone’s coat for the first time?!

  10. Cynthia-Symp says:

    What’s the typesetting stage? My imaginary version of your process doesn’t include that!

    You’re very brave to tell us about your dating adventures. I echo everyone’s warm wishes.

    Olivette, you’ve got me all excited! I’m going to have to go and check out that scene between Ginger and Samia from Episode 519, which, when you’re in the mood, can be very alluring!

  11. Ellen O. says:

    What a stunning moose! Reminds me of the first page of Sarah Van Arsdale’s _Toward Amnesia_

    Since you brought it up, have you ever written a prose essay without illustrating it? Drawn illustrations without dialogue? Might be an interesting exercise.

    I don’t doubt that writing and drawing is a lot more work than only writing. However, in case it makes you feel better, (and I know you know this) we writers don’t just “type something up and that’s it!” We brainstorm, scribble, outline, write rough drafts, second drafts, third drafts, final drafts, and one last final draft after that. We cut sentences and paragraphs, write new ones, cut those, add others, move the last line to the beginning, then eliminate our favorite phrase because it doesn’t fit the big picture.

    We change tense and point of view, sharpen themes, add, delete, and tweak imagery, sensory detail, and metaphor. Remove or reshape cliche. Scour dictionaries and thesauruses for just the write word.

    Art is art and for most of us, it’s a lot of hard work. And worth every minute of it. Most of the time.

  12. Kelli says:

    I just wonder if it was that plumber… (but I don’t expect an answer).

  13. Farah says:

    I think in some ways the blog has been like a significant other for me.

    Sob! Betrayed!!!!

  14. Josiah says:

    Hooray for Alison dating and hooray for moose!

  15. Miss C. says:

    Vamoose, AB!

    Being in love is wonderful, if a great distractor work-wise…

  16. laura says:

    WOW, thanks, Allison. Even though it is (hopefully for you) over now, it is is great to have been (a part of) your significan other!! a great honour for all of us.

  17. Jaibe says:

    You are so right about blogs. Robin Dunbar first hypothesized that we use language to do the socializing that other primates do by grooming, and that all us primates have a biological urge do socializing for just a fixed amount of time per day (so we can also eat etc.) I think the internet is a better surrogate language source than TV, but real people are best of all. But I could be wrong:

  18. Yasmin says:

    Hi all,
    A question for AB
    (Oh and congrats! although, yes, ravaj certainly has a point…)
    What do you think about Graphic Novels in general? Like, Have you read Persepolis? I have and I loved it. Would love to hear your thoughts about it.

  19. lemming says:

    Hooray! 😀

  20. iara says:

    Ellen O, since Allison is too busy to respond to your comment, I am going to take a stab at it.

    What you say about the writing process is of course true, but note that it also applies to the writing a graphic novel or other graphic piece – that’s what makes the creative process challenging, fun, and, well, creative. The point about “typing something up and that’s it” is that the mechanics of it are simpler for prose. It does not matter if you have it printed on the right paper, or with the correct font. (I know that there are some notable exceptions of novels or poems where the font matters, but the exception proves the rule and I would argue that they verge on the graphic format.) You can go further and draw comparisons between different modes of visual art – some media are more direct, others require a lot of elbow grease to get through all the stages, and that is all *after* (or while) the artist is struggles with the creative process per se. Similarly, some musical instruments are “easier” at this level – anybody can play a C on a piano, whereas other instruments require more effort and/or skill just to make a sound. Stating this obvious fact in no way implies that a violinist is in any way superior as a musician or puts in more effort than a pianist.

  21. Joe Code says:

    I’m happy to hear you’re dating, so I don’t mind that you’re not posting as much. Dating is good. Dating is healthy. Dating will get you out of the basement more often and that is both good and healthy too.

  22. THanks for jumping in, Iara! I was joking a little bit about “typing it up,” but the point is, I do all the work of writing that Ellen describes, THEN, rather than hitting “send” and being done with it, I still have all of this daunting physical labor before me.

    For example, Cynthia-Simp asked about the typesetting stage. I did cheat a bit by using a digital font of my handwriting for this Vermont essay. But whether I’m hand-lettering (as I do for DTWOF) or doing it digitally, I have all these constant decisions to make about font size, legibility, leading, spacing, and design.

  23. Kate L says:

    In the fine tradition of the later posts on this blog going off-topic, this week is igneous formation week in the intro. geology classes I teach. I’ve mentioned that one kind of igneous formation is called a “dike”. I quote from the textbook that I use: “Dikes rarely exist alone; more typically, swarms of hundreds or thousands of dikes are found in a region…”. Hmmm, maybe this WASN’T so far off-topic after all. Sigh.

  24. Ellen O. says:

    iara —

    The line “typing something up and that’s it” reminded me of Truman Capote’s disparaging comment of Kerouac’s work: “That’s not writing, that’s typing.”

    Have you seen those asinine writers’ guides that say “just write one page a day and at the end of the year you’ll have a 365 page novel”? No, you’ll have a string of disconnected, error-filled, incoherent ramblings. Also known as a first draft.

    Sure, I understand that writing plus illustrating triples the work, but as I said, the phrase “typing something up” seemed to over-simplify the writing process. Alison knows this, since she writes and rewrites dialogue and narration. I imagine she simply had had a long day and was blowing off steam.

    I do find comparisons among the arts fascinating. I also create assemblage works and am aware that I can’t “edit” them once everything is glued in place. That with writing, I write anything I can imagine, but with assemblage pieces, I need to find or create, for instance, Viagra pills, if I want them. That I have to hunt down just the right kind of marbles, or chose the right corroded washer, coil, or coin.

    And, trickiest of all, when I finish a piece, if I sell it or give it away, it’s gone. There’s not 150 copies of it in a box in the garage. Which, in some ways, is quite a blessing.

  25. Straight Ally says:

    Re the dating: Mazel tov, Alison, and have fun!

    On to #520.

  26. Ranger Ted says:

    Nice moose!

  27. tas says:

    Ellen O: Amen. Writers get such flak!

  28. Ginjoint says:

    Ellen O, do you have any pictures of your assemblage pieces online? I’d love to see them. And how did you explain to your doctor that you needed a prescription for Viagra?

  29. iara says:

    Hey, what’s with Viagra!? Over many visits at a certain doctors’ office, I have attempted to convince the receptionist to sell me the promotional cup from Viagra that she uses as a pencil holder. I really want it for MY desk. I have only offered $20 so far but Ellen O mentioning it here is going to make me offer $50 next time. Stay tuned.

  30. Sonya says:

    Kelli — I thought the same thing. “Is it that cute plumber from before?”

    Congrats, Alison. Does Kitty like your new friend? Because that is an important consideration.

  31. Dr. Empirical says:

    Why can’t I shake the mental image that Alison is dating a moose?

  32. Xena Fan says:

    Congratulations, AB! Will we see more ‘love’ in DTWOF in the future?

  33. Nora says:

    @ Dr. Empirical: And now I’m tempted to make some sort of “After many kooses, a miss becomes a mooses” joke. Luckily, though, I’m very good at resisting that sort of temptation.

  34. Blushing Girl says:

    Darn! I’m both delighted for you and completely heartbroken…

  35. NLC says:

    iara wrote:
    Hey, what’s with Viagra!? Over many visits at a certain doctors’ office, I have attempted to convince the receptionist to sell me the promotional cup from Viagra that she uses as a pencil holder.

    Try ebay. There’s one there now for 99cents.
    (Search for “Viagra cup” or “Viagra mug”)

  36. Andrew B says:

    What Josiah said. Alison, please don’t apologize for having a life. Just let us know when the book comes out.

    You draw animals with a lot of individual character. Nobody could ever mistake Anubis for Digger. In the case of that moose, I really wouldn’t want to get between him and wherever he’s going.

  37. I am dating that moose.

    She’s a girl moose, she just has those antlers strapped on for fun.

    And although my cat likes the moose just fine, the moose is allergic to the cat.

  38. Ginjoint says:

    Now that could deep-six the whole thing.

    Strap-on antlers. Heh.

  39. mlvc says:

    good 4 u. im wondering if ur comics get even better when ur in a relationship.

  40. Rick says:

    Congratulations. 🙂 And best of luck with all the hard work still to come on that essay.

  41. iara says:

    NLC – thanks for the tip! This confirms my conviction that all my basic needs can be satisfied by this blog. And despite statements to the contrary, maybe this holds true for AB, after all. That’s because it is not a matter of the blog vs. the SO, in the case when the SO is part of the blog, which I suspected all along. And now I am proven right as the identity of SO is revealed as none other than our fellow blog denizen with the strap-on antlers!

  42. Suzanonymous says:

    Have fun dating 🙂 Best Wishes.

  43. beth says:

    Kate L.–I love that part of GEO. I have a photo of me on every dike I encountered in my 6 week field camp…

  44. Suz says:

    I’ve been that moose (as in allergic to the new partner’s cat, not as in dating AB). We found that some of the goos that could be combed onto a freshly bathed cat helped a lot. And nice thing about being the one with the allergy, I never had to be the one doing the baths.

  45. Cate says:

    The strap on antlers joke made me spit take. Heh. Glad you’re exploring, AB — so brave to share with us ;-).

  46. Erica says:

    “It’s been nice chatting with you. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go recharge my antlers.”

  47. quiet lurker long time fan says:

    My what human looking eyes on that Moose… Lois?

  48. Jenna says:

    I don’t know if you’ll even read this, but I wanted to say that I always appreciate the extra effort that goes into a graphic essay or graphic novel or even just 8 comic panels over and above a run-of-the-mill article. As an admiring-artist (someone who would love to be able to draw and create art but who is only meant to appreciate the art of those who can *really* draw and create art — like you), the extra effort doesn’t go unnoticed.

    Thank you for taking such care with your creative genius and know that it is appreciated.

  49. praminthehall says:

    I didn’t realize AB had divorced–boy do I feel out of it. Love the moose–though for a different take on their level of charm, read Gary Paulsen’s Winterdance.

  50. “Freshly bathed cat?” Are you logging in from some parallel universe, Suz?

  51. Dale says:

    Meh, I’ve done the same thing…meet someone and forget about the blog. And the chatrooms. And the mobile bill. Damn. Yeah, dating is quite distracting.
    Will you post the essay for us to see? Or at least the drawings?

  52. Ellen O. says:

    Ginjoint — I don’t have pics of the assemblages on line — I haven’t mastered the whole flicker account/blog/website of my own” technology yet. Another goal for 2008.

    Regarding the Viagra pills, they are part of an assemblage series on measurement. This one is a collection of glass measuring cups, each symbolizing an abstraction such as beauty, grief, or sanity. In turn they hold an object or material that, for me anyway, suggests that quality, such as a lipstick, gravel, or marbles. Some materials are ironic, some playful, others, I hope, poignant.

    For the theme of Ego, I have a measuring cup with a rooster on it which I want to over-fill with blue Viagra pills. I suppose it’s a little harsh, as I know that “penile dysfunction” is a genuine concern for some men.

    Still it irks me that Viagra is covered by medical insurance while abortions are not. Further, Viagra suggests the only worthwhile sex is intercourse with a flesh and blood penis.

    I’d be curious to hear from the straight and bi folks and gay men on this blog about that. Women, if your partner couldn’t have an erection, would oral, digital or dildo sex be just as welcome? Men, is sex without an erection pointless? (pun not intended, but left in place.)

  53. pd says:

    We have bathed some of our cats. It is possible.

    There is a brand of California wine called “3 Blind Moose” that is quite good for $10 a bottle.

    The book “Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid” by Douglas Hofstadter won a Pulitzer in 1980. He did his own typesetting too. (Great book by the way. I’ve given them as presents.)

    “Sort of” dating?

  54. mlk says:

    yes, congrats Alison on dating such a splendid moose — and on being chosen to represent Vermont. so much ahead of you!

  55. Anonymous says:

    have fun dating! when do we get to see a picture of the lucky lady?

  56. Suz says:

    Few things demonstrate love (okay, lust) better than willingness to take a non-declawed cat into the bathtub with you.

  57. lion's paw says:

    yes, i quite agree with suz…

  58. Mimi says:

    good luck kid — you deserve it

  59. Em says:

    My theory is that the easiest kind of art is whatever you’re not working on. I struggle with an essay for class and I think “oh if only I was drawing right now, it is so much easier!” And then I have an art project and I wish desperately for the ease of just typing things on a keyboard.

  60. Eva says:

    YAY for you and your moose! Blog be damned!

  61. priorities says:

    Of course now I’m intensely curious about this book. Talk about a hard time Googling. Who’s doing the other 49? Who’s doing MN? What’s it about? When’s the fucking thing gonna hit the stores already? You tease, you!

    And speaking of which, upcoming appearances. “I think I’m also doing something in Minneapolis Friday night, but I’m confused about that at the moment. I’ll update when I figure it out.”

    Taking me out for drinks. See, was that so difficult?