I’m excited by all the response I’ve received to the “Gesture Writing” column since it appeared Sunday. I’ve been meditating on the many helpful analogies between visual artists’ practice and approaches to writing for years now, and even taught a one-day workshop and a college class to road-test the ideas and exercises. The article hardly scratches the surface, and I hope to keep developing the parallels with more substance and depth (not to mention–crucial!–illustrations).

Some readers have also asked if I would continue writing about the life-changing calling of art modeling. I am sure I will, in some form–it’s the most fulfilling work I can imagine, and I have written about it, obliquely, in this essay from last summer. The Bay Area Models Guild (“Connecting Artists and Models Since 1946) deserves an in-depth article; some of the models there have been in the business for three decades or more, and can tell tales of posing for Richard Diebenkorn and the Society of Six. Peter Steinhart, for whom I’ve modeled in John Goodman’s San Francisco drawing group, has written about the Bay Area art models in his excellent The Undressed Art: Why We Draw; I can’t recommend the book enough.

Meanwhile, the immediate work of the summer is to finish revising the novel (an excerpt ran here), and to continue growing as a fiction writer by working on new stories. That’s a long road, but I feel I am heading in the right direction. Recently I was fortunate to be awarded a MacDowell residency and a scholarship to this summer’s conference at the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, on the basis of a new unpublished story that I think takes several strides forward for me. So I hope that the methods of working I learned through art modeling are beginning to bear fruit.

For today: Off to Santa Fe! I’ll be driving the old Route 66 for five more days, landing home in California on June 1st.

Great thanks for the enthusiastic responses to “Gesture Writing” in the Times.


  • Chuck Posted May 28, 2013 3:29 pm

    I loved that column. Thanks for writing it.

  • Megan Staffel Posted June 1, 2013 4:52 am

    Rachel!! Thank you for “Gesture Writing.”! Such a lovely and inspiring piece. I came from the art world to fiction writing and so everything you say there had tremendous resonance for me. I know I’ll be directing students to your column.

    • Rachel Howard Posted June 1, 2013 4:29 pm

      Thank you so much, Megan! I can’t tell you how much that means, coming from you. @Megan Staffel:

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