Charles M. Schulz

I’m in the midst of researching Charles Schulz, and am reading Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography, by David Michaelis (Harper 2007).  And have been thinking about how much I gravitated to the biography shelf as a kid in the library. I remember being inspired and excited by reading about others’ lives then.  But as an adult, I read a biography and it’s always unsettling to some degree. Disequilibrium.  A positive, really.  

What is most standing out for me in this work is Schulz as an artist and in this there’s something I recognize, even while this same in him is exactly what is unsettling.

The passages that describe his work ethic–sitting, working daily–and his pleasure and tension in that, I find myself re-reading.  Page 372: “He had an absolute faith in his craft, at the core of which was the belief that “a professional cartoonist has to have the ability to take a blank sheet of paper and out of absolutely nothing come up with an idea within five or ten minutes.  If you can’t deliberately do that, then you’re never going to make it.  You just have to be able to do it cold bloodedly.”

The phrase ‘cold bloodedly’ is interesting.  There is always a type of detachment about certain decisions I make as a writer–and so much of writing is that: decisions.  There are multiple points in a novel when I make a choice and am left with “the path not taken” and having to detach myself…but of course, it is balanced by commitment to the path taken.  Commit to the idea at hand, and pull it out into the light of day.  Let it gulp for air and begin to speak.  Sometimes it surprises with its words.

Oh, and it’s my 45th birthday today.  I think it’s going to be the most interesting year of my life.  So far…


A favourite quote: Wonder is respect for life… from William Steig’s Caldecott speech, 1970.

These words act as a PAUSE sign for me.  They simultaneously make me want to reach up into the stars… and gather into my arms the simplicity of the day-to-day.  How do we do this, with only one set of arms and hands?

Perhaps that is part of WONDER: believing this is entirely possible, and using our minds to do what our hands can’t.

Very young children know about this wonder.  Then we—almost all—grow out and away from it.  Reclaiming it has to be a conscious act.  Which is why I consider these words at the outset of a new writing project, and then again and again, throughout.

Last night, I opened “Sylvester and the Magic Pebble” and for the first time in too long, read it with my now 10 year old son.  Never too old for a picturebook.  Never too old to wonder.  If the planet and our existence requires more respect, we need to wonder to a proportionate degree.  Maybe even more!