>For months, I have known that I needed to journal my way through an art project and include that writing in the book. My thesis is that the stages of the creative process parallel what I go through dealing with chronic illness. I started by trying to create some line drawings of the four pieces of what I call “chronic healing”. (Line drawings because I knew color would be expensive to print.) I did a couple…and someday I will scan them and link to them here. It felt like busy work—an artificial construct. I let it go. Then I thought I’d use an idea I had shortly after moving onto the street where I live: Sumac Way. I planned a group of small paintings that would hang together and follow a sumac plant through the seasons. I did some preliminary paintings. That, too, has fallen by the wayside, partly because I have no good space to paint in this place. (Yes, I understand that this is an excuse.)

A couple weeks ago, I found out that the Minnesota MS Society would like to display my illustration of Mac and his Monster (a story in the book) along with audio of me reading the story at the Society’s convention in a few weeks. “It’d be great if we could have the book there,” said the woman at the society. Adrenaline rush. I used to make artist’s books. Why not put together a story book of Mac?

This has become a collaboration with my former self. The drawing of Mac was done about seven years ago when my hands were not as disabled. I scanned it and redrew it in Illustrator (software) where the “undo” command is my savior when my hand spasms. I found a blank book I made more than ten years ago at a bookbinding class. And I’ve been working-working-working on the computer to produce more illustrations of Mac and his monster. I’ll print them and collage them with some cool paper scraps and text into the book. In the next ten days.

I’ve thought of illustrating this story for years, I wanted kind of a Shel Silverstein look. I thought of hiring someone, but (a) I have no money and (b) it didn’t feel quite right to have someone else do it. So I drew Mac and the drawing sat there while I waited for more talent or skill to arrive. Instead, my hands have become more disabled. A few months ago, putting the story online was enough of an attraction that I made the monster illustration. The MS Society invitation (especially, I think, the short timeline) was motivation to move through the fear and grief and excuses and do what I can do.

I’ll figure out a way to post it when I’m done. Now, excuse me while I go draw.