Like most writers, I prefer to open a story with something that grabs the reader’s attention. At the risk of sounding histrionic, does, “I should be dead” work for you?
Welcome to Gronk!, my blog about my ongoing work writing and illustrating a graphic memoir, Dinosaur.
I’m a visual artist, as well as a writer, educator, and advocate; a lot of my work focuses on various aspects of mental illness, informed by my own experience of it. For years, I have lived with severe refractory complex treatment-resistant complicated co-morbid suicidal chronic mental illness or SRCT-RCCMSCMI for short. Dinosaur delves into my story of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). OCD persuaded me to believe things about myself which were so terrible I would have preferred to be dead. It had extra power because it intersected with other problematic ways that my mind can work, which include urges to hurt and punish myself.
Dinosaur tells the story of how I confronted those challenges, for worse and for better. I started work on the book in 2013, some months after I completed treatment at the OCD Institute, part of McLean Hospital in Boston. It’s been a full-time, if unpaid, job since January, 2014. I am on the verge of completing a 40-page promotional piece and excerpt from the book. Once I have that, and a treatment of the story, I’ll start to promote it and connive how to publish and distribute it.
Gronk! will bring you into my studio as I write and draw and make creative decisions. It’ll also bring you right into my head as I continue to reflect on what I learned during my time in treatment. (A friend of mine once told me, “It’s not a matter of answering all the questions, but of questioning all the answers.”) I’ve never written a graphic novel before, and I’m new to publishing in general, so Gronk! will also chronicle my discoveries as I move closer to completion and publication.
The difficulty of living with repugnant intrusive thoughts, and the shame and self-loathing that comes with them, is a little-reported aspect of OCD. I’ve already received warm feedback about Dinosaur from people who grapple with this poisonous way of thinking. The really wonderful thing about Dinosaur as a graphic novel, though, is that this story can be inhabited not only by me, not only by people who have experienced OCD, but by anyone who can read and see and imagine.
To take a look at my work on Dinosaur so far, please visit http://www.lisawalter.net/dinosaur.