I have a friend I was especially close to in college and in my early twenties. I was in a band when we first met, the only band on our college campus who dared to write their own songs and be part of the Punk/New Wave movement of that time. We were terrible of course, but we did draw to us other like minded people. My friend was a photographer and graphic designer and so he became our Poster Maker, and designed our first record cover. My friend was practically a part of our band as he helped us make decisions about things, and helped us develop our style and approach.
After college I gave up the band and started writing. He began to shift as well from photography into short 8mm art films. We collaborated on these and continued to compare notes on what was going on around us (NYC in the 80s), what we liked, what we didn’t like, what we were trying to do ourselves.
When we weren’t both in NYC, we wrote letters, lots of letters, to keep each other posted on what we were doing, seeing, getting into, etc.
Years later, we met up again and agreed to send each other back the letters we wrote. Before I sent his, I went back and read my friends letters to me. This took several nights and really took me back to how I thought back then, as a 19, 20, 21-year-old especially. How excited I was by things, but also we both took so seriously the idea of where we wanted to position ourselves in the artistic world. What kind of artists were we going to be?
The other thing I thought was what a great record this was, of how someone first stumbles on a love of art of some kinds. How you go from “wanting to be a rock star” to actually “loving the process of writing songs.”
This was the origin of Boy, the story of a high school kid, Gavin, who doesn’t really know what exactly he wants to do, but has a certain attraction to artistic expression. Those first clumsy attempts, those first ideas of what kind of art you want to make, they are so important, and so thrilling in a way when you’re making them. Even if you don’t know yet, if you actually will become that person.
In this case, i think my character, really will become a photographer. He seems to have the bug. I hope by reading the book, other kids will see what it takes, and how exciting it is, to really dedicate yourself to something. To become that thing. It sure was fun for me!