I’ve been watching a BBC programme, Dear Diary, about people who have kept diaries or written diary books (Virginia Woolf, Sue Townsend, Anne Frank and others) and it compelled me to dig up one of my old diaries, the only one from childhood I’ve brought from my parents’ house in the States. (I can think of at least two others that must still be in Seattle: one has a stickers on it featuring unicorns and Michael Jackson, and the other was a travel journal from a family trip to Scotland.) Here’s the one I have; it’s padlocked, but I lost the key ages ago and had to cut through the cover to open it.
In the episode I just watched, Mariella Frostrup interviews the writer Jacqueline Wilson. I’ve recently read a few of her fab books, but I haven’t read one she published last year, My Secret Diary, which is the actual diary she kept when she was fourteen. From the bits she read, she sounds much more sophisticated than I was at that age, but I could identify with her embarrassment about how earnest she was. And my total self-preoccupation and related misery makes me blush. But it’s sometimes kind of funny, too.
I was just talking to my sister on the phone and reading her an entry I’d written about her. She laughed, and suggested I turn my entries into illustrations. So I think I will do that, it will make a good excuse to do morning sketches and play around; and if they look a bit crap, I can say they’re hearkening back to my drawing then, which wasn’t all that great (note the ‘gettoblaster’ drawing at the bottom of the page). First thing, I’m trying to figure out how to draw myself, how I looked when I was about 13:
It’s odd, when you draw characters for published books, you generally try to make the main character look appealing in some way, just so people will want to keep looking at it. But when you’re a teenager, you think you look as hideous as humanly possible, so you’d feel like a total fraud, drawing yourself as attractive in any way. I’m trying to make the character fun to look at, but also reflect its awkwardness and unease in its newly developed body shape. I was absolutely convinced, at that age, that because I suddenly grew hips and thighs (without big boobs to match), that I would be a total pariah for the rest of my life. Oddly, I never seemed to take into account that I had the most butch haircut imaginable, shorter and spikier than I’ve drawn here, and shorter than most of the guys. But for some reason, I thought I had to have that haircut, even though all the other girls had long hair. I’m still trying to figure out exactly why I did that to myself.
…Okay, back soon with my illustrated first diary entry.