Having a comic strip that’s semi-autobiographical often brings up questions from friends, family and readers. “Did that really happen?” “Don’t your husband and kids get mad/embarrassed/want to send you to Siberia?” “How do you put yourself out there all the time?”
Well, first of all, rarely do I write anything that is exactly true or verbatim. I take many artistic liberties. Yes, I often use real life as a starting point, like my kids’ Bat Mitzvahs, driver’s ed, and situations like attempting to scale back work hours. But most of the time, these stories veer off course and take on new paths of their own. That’s a beautiful aspect of writing: continually surprising yourself.
As for the reactions of my family…well, they’ve been good sports forever. Also, they read almost everything in advance. My husband is like me, he has completely lost all shame. Anyway, he’s pretty cool and lets good-natured ribbing roll right off him. There have been times when my kids have put the brakes on certain story lines (like one where Amy gets her period), but for the most part, they
couldn’t care less are pretty relaxed about it.
And how do I put myself out there all the time? This is an interesting one, because I grew up very shy and closed off. I suppose I’ve always expressed myself through art and storytelling, so this is where I feel most comfortable. True, ten years ago, I was much more wary of “exposing myself” to a public audience, but the more I did it, the more I relaxed and didn’t worry about it so much. I guess it’s akin to how comedians grow in their field. Besides, the more “honest” and “exposed” I am, the more my work evolves and the more my audience appreciates it.
And — I won’t lie — I get a certain thrill from pushing the envelope. We all get our kicks somehow.
Note: the above cartoon is one of the few I wrote verbatim. (*immature giggle*)