Maybe because of all the trouble I’ve had crossing it, the gulf between letters and the words they construct nags at me. That a handful of simple marks with no inherent meaning can come together to invoke a complex idea seems implausible; that these marks routinely conjure living characters and worlds just seems bizarre.
I love reading, but I’ve always found it hard, at times almost impossible. And writing anything myself, which is often the only way I can know what I think, is tor ture: I rewrite over and over for hours. In school, these problems left me feeling isolated, and even now text feels to me like a foreign language I struggle to master.
Sometimes I think my use of letters to draw pictures, instead of to write text, is payback for all the reading and writing assignments that have made me miserable over the years. I force letters to function in a wholly different way, one that I am more at home with. These drawings are like writing assignments freed from the tyranny of spelling, punctuation and grammar, systems seemingly devised by petty bureaucrats to foil my attempts to communicate.
As letters scatter, words disintegrate, and with them go their meanings, lost, irretrievable. For me, the letters in these drawings are like the desiccated bones of thoughts and stories. They are not memories but rather evidence of things forgotten. But they are also units of pure potential, freed in their scattering to be the building blocks of countless new words, ideas, meanings. When I’m feeling less vengeful, I like to believe that I’m not robbing the letters of their ability to communicate, but infinitely expanding it. I imagine that in some precise combination the letters draw I form a perfect text.