I don’t have real problems.

by Shannon

This will be hanging in MOMA next week.

I really need to learn to draw.

I say it all the time, usually to Tess. It isn’t because of any kind of artistic aspiration, as much as I sometimes wish that my hands could squeeze clay into biceps and clavicles and the curve of spines and hips. As much as I want to smudge charcoal and bleed watercolors into leaves and shadow, it’s not about that.

No, it’s because I can’t seem to pressure anyone into drawing my characters for me! Am I petty? I think I am petty. The problem, if it can be classified as such, is that while I do not, cannot, never have been able to ‘celebrity cast’ my characters, I nevertheless have a vivid and distinct picture of each of them in my head. They aren’t friends or musicians or models. Lucas is Lucas and nobody else. He is a vaguely biracial Southeast Asian in a trench coat with crazy hair and a bright grin, and he exists nowhere else. Death is a teenage girl with thick black bangs that hang over her brows, pale olive skin, a gray hoodie and top shelf whiskey. Caedon is a cigarette addicted, sleep deprived guitarist with tangled blonde hair and an alcoholic ghost drinking buddy. And I want to keep their photographs in my wallet to show anyone who will stand still long enough. I want to illustrate my posts, share them on tumblr, cover my walls with their faces.

I suppose I have a deeper problem, in that my favorite people are the ones I invented. I have the kind of obsession friendless widows stereotypically have with their cats, and yet I cannot finish a single one of their stories. They meander, and I daydream and prod and keep trying, and I waste all of my employers’ office supplies attempting to doodle them.

Unfortunately, my skill with a pen is not much an improvement over the above, and until I finish the stories I cannot hope for anyone to fall in love with them as I have. I am trying to write about Death first. I will probably post it here once I have, illustration free. She is such a little rock star. She’s cruel, and friendly like the cool table who lets you sit there and talks to you but never quite warms up.

You’ll like her, I think. Or not, but I do, and I keep telling myself that’s all that matters. I’ll be like the excitable aunt, shoving baby pictures down the throats of her coworkers who don’t care at all, too absorbed in the glee of family to take notice how the photographs are being received.