Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

You Can Draw

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Yes, you can draw

People are always saying they can’t draw. They confess this with a certain shame, like not being able to carry a tune. It’s hard to fake carrying a tune, but if you look at something for a long time, a door, or the facade of a building, or a picnic bench– and you put the nub of your pencil on the paper and draw what you see, then you are drawing.

I draw to slow down my eye and see what is there in a closer and more attentive way than the usual hasty glance. My line is fat and nubbly and I never erase. I draw when I’m traveling so that I won’t forget. Haul out the moleskine notebook and outline that church or the old couple sitting at the next table. How about that door? Hand roams across the page, mimicking the oversized hinges and rotting wood, the doorknob from a different era. When I’m finished, I like what I’ve made. Okay, it’s not Picasso or Matisse, but then the spaghetti I put together at supper isn’t Marcella Hazan. There is such a thing as being an amateur. Most of the people I teach writing to at Ryerson University are amateurs, though some are on the brink of selling something to a publisher. Many don’t care a bean if they ever publish. They just want to write better. Beginner’s mind is so open, not yet tangled with the harsh voice of editor and fretting about what strangers will think. Total liberation.
When I make my little sketches, I ride the line fearlessly, because I know I haven’t a chance of going pro.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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Ann Ireland

Ann Ireland is the author of A Certain Mr. Takahashi, The Instructor and Exile. Her most recent novel is The Blue Guitar. She lives in Toronto.

Go to Ann Ireland’s Author Page