Letters From the Editor

The Man behind the Father behind Jimmy Corrigan

A good article with Chris Ware that is strangely titled ‘A Conversation with Charles Baxter.’

Well, I believe that there’s no substitute for actually looking at a human figure for just a few hours a day and trying to draw it. It’s trying to learn how to see, and that’s what drawing is about. There’s nothing to substitute that exercise of learning to look. Even if I weren’t utilizing drawing as part of what I did – if I was just a writer – I would still draw from life.
If you are looking for a conversation with Charles Baxter, go here, where things are titled as they should be. Baxter, who I had not heard of before I began this note, is a writer and like Ware believes in documenting what he knows:

I don’t usually write about real violence, because I don’t know much about it and don’t want to. Besides, the movies do actual violence very well. Furthermore, I’m a singularly placid person, actually.
Strangely enough, later in that article, there is a quote by the writer Tess Gallagher (also known for her marriage to the writer Raymond Carver, who once said ‘Oftentimes a writer doesn’t know what he’s going to say until he sees what he said.’) who also has a point to make on writing and drawing:

It’s a great mystery to me how those writers who teach every year sustain their writing. I couldn’t get to the deep water if I did it every year, all year. Sadly, universities don’t help a writer protect the well they’re drawing from.
The article this is quoted from is in The Atlantic Monthly (one of the magazines, I read this morning, that Garrison Keillor feels ‘an older person would want to be seen reading’) and features an illuminating quote by Gallagher:

We are becoming such a visual nation. There’s so much hunger of the eye. I don’t know what this is going to do to the world of writing, which has also been our most important thinking world. Even writers too often seem to assume that it’s enough to be present in a very journalistic wayÊ – to attend, to witness the occasion – but too often do not show their colors.
Conclusion: American writers and artists need actual subjects to study – if only themselves – and the time to study them in order to write or draw honestly. Second conclusion: the only people under sixty that let themselves be seen reading The Atlantic Monthly are pretentious wankers; the rest of us wankers read it in the bathroom.

Rosecrans Baldwin co-founded TMN with publisher Andrew Womack in 1999. He is the author of three books, including his latest novel The Last Kid Left (NPR’s Best Books of the Year). His nonfiction appears in a variety of magazines, mostly GQ. More information can be found at rosecransbaldwin.com. More by Rosecrans Baldwin

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