I was introduced to Alison Bechdel’s work while auditing a class about comics and transmedia earlier this year, part of a fellowship with the University of Washington’s Communication Leadership program. I wasn’t assigned to read Bechdel’s “Fun Home” – someone else in the class was – but I had a plane ride coming up, so I loaded it onto my Kindle. I was enthralled with the graphic novel. Enchanted even, though that seems like a strangely fantastical word for the very real story of a girl’s slow separation and reconciliation with a father who can’t or won’t come to terms with his sexual identity.
The story now has the distinction of being just one of just thirteen books I’ve read twice. (Make that six if I’m not allowed to count Harry Potter.)
I saw Bechdel speak at a Seattle Arts and Lectures event last week, and was struck by her brutal honesty regarding the creative process. It’s mostly joyless, she confessed. Anxiety riddled. She stopped drawing for pleasure while creating her well-known body of work. The fear of failure was huge.
“The more success I experience, the larger the fear of failure looms,” she said.