When I was 17 I used to write down words I loved. I wrote them in books. On scraps of paper held together with an elastic hair band. On the back of school textbooks. On cassette inserts and CD inlays. I wrote words I found inside unfeasibly tiny postcards and sent them to my boyfriend. The stamp was almost as big as the card.
I used these quotes, other people’s words, because I couldn’t say my own. Pushing them out took an effort that I just couldn’t muster. I couldn’t do it. They sat in me. Growing. Degrading. Dying. I could never say what I felt. Maybe because I’ve always found it hard to know what I’m feeling.
The weight of words. Anchored by them. Determined by them. Hanging on to them. Never forgetting them. The cruel words that nestled in between my collarbones. The praise that slid off my shoulder and sank into the campsite grass. The words that clunked around in glasses full of whiskey, melting like ice cubes. The glibness of words said and the breaths in between. Made up of them. Joined like dots. Hung from them like pictures on wire. Words have owned me. Broken me. Defined me. Held me. Armed me. Hidden me. Saved me. Made me me.
I’m thinking about all of this because of James Jones‘ designs for Jeanette Winterson’s new Vintage covers. Jeanette Winterson gives good quote and I wrote down a lot of her words when I was young.
“I began playing around with the illustrations as vectors – as I wanted that really digital look to set them apart – and it was at this point that they resembled Jeanette’s writing the most,” says Jones.
“Her writing is like no one else’s: passionate, punchy, lucid and lyrical, and each cover aims to represent a tiny bit of this to the reader. The clash between organic materials/objects and something a bit sleeker helps portray the sexual nature of some of the subject matter and its surreal tones.”