My Stepdaughter Draws Characters

I’ve been writing all my life. Well, at least since fourth grade and my discovery of The Wind in the Willows. I said to myself I said, You mean people can write about toads and whatnot? So why can’t I? I wrote a story about little people living inside my wall, but I never finished it because I kept making them “do it,” and then I discovered The Littles and even at that tender age knew copying was wrong. (My dad kept a library of horror books that a fourth grader never should have access to. Cujo introduced me to monsters in the closet, and Dean Koontz introduced me to sex. Or at least, sex as depicted in horror novels.)

My beautiful, introverted stepdaughter has been refining her art for as long as I’ve known her. She has entire notebooks dedicated to her characters: characters that live more complex lives than me. Yeah, some of them have tentacles. Some of them are stitched together from other body parts. Some are murderers. But they all have deep, rich, nuanced backstories that make me think I need to invest more time in my own characters. Get to know them like she knows Sebastian, her favorite.

She’s practicing drawing hands. She’s really good at it. We encourage her to write out her stories but maybe that’s the wrong thing. Maybe she’s taking the necessary time to let them develop on their own, maybe one day the stories will one day erupt from her fully formed. Or maybe they won’t, and that will be okay too.


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