It might have begun as wishful thinking, naming the sequel, “The Nancy Who Drew the Way Home,” but I will be keeping it. It started out as a working title, one I thought I’d have figured out by the time I reached the end. And now that I’ve actually reached that end, what can I say except that to draw and paint is to find “a way home.” It doesn’t preclude an arrival, but it doesn’t promise one either. And yet, to draw the way—that is something in itself. Something to celebrate, or at least remark upon. Especially if you’d been as lost as I was then.
The sequel begins where the first book left off, when I returned to New York after seven years as an actress in England. I’d given up the acting life and was resolved to learn secretarial skills and have a regular job. In the late seventies, even with the low pay of secretary-receptionist I could afford my own three-room apartment in mid-town Manhattan. Less than two hundred dollars a month it was, and New York still resembled the city I had grown up in. But that’s all by-the-by.
Perhaps there is some truth to the saying that in order to find yourself, you have to keep losing yourself. Because to begin to “draw the way home,” I would have to leave Manhattan and move to Brooklyn where I didn’t know anyone and the terrain was so completely different it might as well have been a foreign country. Isolation and loneliness may not sound appealing, but it was being thrown back on myself that allowed for those stepping stones of painted canvases to come into being. It was a journey down, not across, and when I reached the bottom it wasn’t drawing or painting that would take me up again. It was writing. I had to put down the brush and pick up the pen. And learn to write about what I had drawn. For I had gone to the depths of my subconscious, and only more consciousness would bring me back. The kind of consciousness that for me could only come from writing down the specifics of thoughts and feelings, and what led up to them. And what happened afterwards. The truth as I experienced it then.
Art allowed me to enter into those non-linear, non-rational states of consciousness to explore the unseen worlds of my imagination. Then ‘people’ looked at what I had done and had their own thoughts and interpretations, their own likes and dislikes, which is fine and to be expected. But for me, writing the story behind the pictures, what caused this one to come into being and why I painted that one, was to take charge of my interior life in an entirely different way. And to own it.
Life can strip you of everything. What it cannot do is take away your inner being. For that is yours and yours alone.