Two of our favorite picture book read-alouds are I Stink! (garbage truck with attitude) and I’m Dirty! (mudbath-lovin’ backhoe) by Kate and Jim Mcmullan. They are an absolute blast to read aloud, complete with sound effects and deep growly big-vehicle voices. The illustrations are simple, bold and suitably icky. Inspired by these books, the kids made collages out of trash (clean trash–no dirty diapers or thrown-out food involved): wadded-up newspapers and crumpled aluminium foil, packaging and clothing tags, painted over with brown for a dirty effect.
Here is Miss M.’s:
Watching the kids get excited about turning trash into art made me think about my creative debris–the freewriting, the journaling, the college essays, the stories that were never completed or had no luster. They take up no room in a landfill, but their ghostly presences tug at me every time I go dumpster-diving in my writing folder. A few have been taken apart and recycled; one of my college application essays, for instance, yielded me a treasure-trove of images that made their way into Second Sight. A failed attempt at a funny mixed-up identities Cinderella story was drastically reworked into the much-darker Lily in Winter. My first attempt at a novel based on the fairytale of the twelve dancing princesses formed the basis of yet another failed novel (hmm, transforming trash into trash??). I go to my freewriting for sensory details, splinters of emotions, strong images and metaphors.
What do you do with your artistic debris? The sketches that weren’t quite right, the stories that didn’t work, odds and ends of crafty hobbies?