Yesterday I painted kids’ faces at my son’s new elementary school. An experienced face-painter gave me some tips and then I just did my best. Children kept putting their faces in front of me; as soon as one was done, another appeared. I pushed their hair aside and studied their faces. I asked them their name and what they wanted. I held their small chins and drew on them. When I was done I handed each child the mirror to see. I wasn’t sure what I was doing. I had to follow pictures of painted faces. I didn’t know how their faces would turn out. The kids smiled into the mirror showing a lot of new adult teeth, some were too young to have lost a tooth. They liked what they saw.
It’s hard to know why I’m writing blog posts. Yes, to exercise my writing. To have some writing that I can publish and share without it taking ten years, as novels do for me. There was something about painting unknown faces and trying my best to give a kid I didn’t even know something they liked to see and to feel, and understanding that when they looked in the mirror, the face was them, but a new version, that feels close to why I’d blog. To maybe make a reader see herself in a story I’m only learning how to write as it is written.
Rachel Stolzman is the author of the novel The Sign for Drowning (Shambhala, 2008). She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. She lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.