Monday, August 23, 2010

Holy Mackerel - Eighty Pages!

My sketchbook arrived in the mail yesterday. What an innocent looking little book it is. But it has (I counted) forty pages. And, each of those pages has a back and, shock horror, a front. Now, maths has never been my forte, but I believe that makes eighty sheets I have to fill up. And, yes, the sheets are small, but still: EIGHTY? Even if you screw up a few and have to tear them out (I know, that's not in the rules but I bet it happens) that's still a whole lotta sketchin'... or in my case, a whole lotta cutting, pasting and writing. 

I've been practising writing really really big. I also wrote a letter to my nanna, in normal-size writing. She is, actually, extremely vision-impaired so maybe a large-print format for my letter to her would be appropriate. But, the fact is, she won't be reading my letter anyway, because it will be stuck inside my sketchbook, gaily touring around the EweEssuvAyyy. She lives in England and I haven't seen her for many years. At one point I made a commitment to write to her every week (this commitment was to myself, not to her), which, needless to say, I broke. So, Sorry I Forgot You became Sorry I Forgot to Write to You.

 Who can resist the allure of reading someone else's mail?

Is it any surprise that The Jolly Postman is still one of the best-selling kids' books of all time?

This is something I wrote about the magic of letters in my first novel, A New Map of the Universe:

She has never had a letter like this before, where the feelings might be pinned in the careful folds of the paper, as much as in the words themselves... She'll keep a letter with her, stored somewhere in her clothing. She can hear it crackling as she walks around the library; she likes to slide her hand into her pocket and feel it lying there, crisp and slim and full of promise.

My soundtrack for this post is Leonard Cohen's Famous Blue Raincoat, because it's one helluva letter.  

Monday, August 16, 2010


I've just had my umpteenth rejection for my second novel Two-Way Alphabet. I've literally lost count of the number of rejections I've had for this book, which took me five years to write.

Sometimes i feel like writing my own rejection letters:

Dear Publisher

I've read a couple of books you've published lately and they've been RUBBISH. To be perfectly honest, most of your writers are hacks. Is it too much to ask that you publish something original, gripping, honest, and well-written every once in while? I'm afraid I'm going to have to reject you.

Do keep trying though.

Kind regards


One thing I like about the Sketchbook project is that I can't be rejected. No one is going to send my sketchbook back to me with a note saying:
- sorry, you can't draw
- we like your sketchbook, but it doesn't fit our list
- though your sketchbook has some original ideas, ultimately it doesn't quite grab us by the throats
- your sketchbook lacks narrative drive

The soundtrack for today's post is Broadcast's Tears in the Typing Pool  because there are tears in my own private typing pool, every time I get one of those darn rejections.

The Apple of My Eye

I can't draw but I can cut and stick. This one's for my son, Harper:


I'm sorry I forgot... to cherish every moment.


Okay, so it looks more like an apple on a plate than an eye, but, it's a sketch book I guess, not a 'perfectly complete works-of-art' book. I enjoyed the process of reflection on something I'd forgotten while I made it.

The soundtrack for this post is Leonard Cohen's Sisters of Mercy, as this is one of the songs I sing for Harper as a lullaby.

Friday, August 13, 2010

I'm Sorry I Forgot You

For my sketchbook I selected the theme I'm Sorry I Forgot You. I've had post-natal depression since the birth of my son, Harper, three and a half years ago. During this time I've often felt that I've lost touch with parts of myself and with those closest to me. I hope that making this sketchbook can help me to reclaim some of the things I've lost and forgotten.

Since I'm practically surgically attached to my iPod, I decided to go with an iPod theme to help myself (and those who view my sketchbook) navigate the labyrinth of my forgotten things. 

The soundtrack for this post is Arcade Fire's Half Light I, because, to me, it conveys so beautifully a sense of loss and yearning and a struggle for reclamation.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Maken Art

My sketchbook hasn't arrived yet, so I've been pondering my theme, and following a fellow sketchbook adventurer on

A Concert Tour with Sketchbooks

According to the ArtHouse Co-Op the Sketchbook Project is "like a concert tour but with sketchbooks."

Thousands of sketchbooks will be exhibited at galleries and museums as they make their way on tour across the country. After the tour, all sketchbooks will enter into the permanent collection of The Brooklyn Art Library, where they will be barcoded and available for the public to view.
Anyone from anywhere in the world can be a part of the project. For details of how to sign up visit