You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me

Happy New Year! Why yes, technically it’s March already, but I’ve been a little distracted.

Besides, I was referring to the Lunar New Year. Probably.

The most exciting news?! My McSweeney’s column is going to be a book! Not just a book, a GRAPHIC NOVEL! Because political satire really is better with beautiful drawings. And Interwebz, you will be stunned by the beautiful work of my amazing partner, Joan Reilly. It is breathtaking.

Writers, if you ever have the opportunity to have someone illustrate your work, TAKE IT. My first time—when Margaret Riegel did an illustration for this essay in the New York Times—was almost eery. I was so grateful when I saw her image. Somehow she had managed to distill every emotion I tried to convey with that essay into a single image.

Turns out a picture really is worth a thousand words—quite literally since I’m fairly certain 1000 words is the Well section’s cut-off length for essay submissions.

This time, this foray into illustration is even better—in no small part due to the amazing partnership Joan and I have. If I am mother to these characters, Joan is their father.

PAUSE. Our character, Alex, would scold me for that gender-normative statement and correct me by demanding I refer to Joan as my co-parent. And that’s really where the magic of this process lies. Through creating these visible manifestations of these characters, they’ve taken on a life of their own—mannerisms, catchphrases, nervous tics, insider jokes. As Joan said to me the other day, “…I never believed authors who said that their characters took on lives of their own until I worked on this book.”

Me. Either.

And I feel so freaking lucky that I get to explore all this with a collaborator, a witness, and a partner in crime.

If you’re interested, I’ll probably keep posting here about this experience. I’ll probably keep posting about this experience even if you aren’t interested because honestly, it’s going to be the bulk of my life this year. But I will try to make time for ukulele, too, as exhibited by the video below.

And yes, I did manage to work a ukulele into the book. (If you’d like to see for yourself, you can pre-order a copy of the book at Barnes and Noble, on Amazon, or at IndieBound.)

In the meantime…your #UkuleleFridays:


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