creativity & inspiration

16 November 2016

Three Amazing/Geeky Kickstarter Things

Kickstarter is one of my favourite places on the Internet. Usually, sadly, items are beyond my budget, or the postage is, but all three of the following were just about affordable.

The first two just blew me away; the third I love.

Leafscape - a limited edition art book by Inky Leaves (funded, limited)

I love leaves. I collect them every autumn, and then throw them out again a month later, brown and curled and broken. Just imagine a natural white cloth hardcover book full of these, with embossed foil text on the front and sewn binding*, signed and numbered and ensconced in a beautiful slip case. There are only 489 up for grabs (11 are being donated to public libraries), however. The detail is phenomenal. If I had the coin I would have bought an original without hesitation.

*or lay-flat binding if the stretch goal of £23,000 is reached (only £400 to go)

All images belong to the artist, Jess Shepherd.

Impressions Cardinal Ed. Playing Cards (funded, unlimited)

A Kickstarter alum but just - just look at them.

All images belong to the creators, Make Playing Cards - MPC.

Constellation Dice - Voyager Anniversary Edition (funded, some limited)

Space dice, beautiful space dice. The rewards are set to arrive in time with the 2017 40th anniversary of the Voyager spacecrafts and the 450th anniversary of European exploration of the Southern Hemisphere.

All images belong to the creators, Gio Lasar Design.

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01 August 2016

The daily act of showing up

I've recently started following Chris Riddell on Instagram, because he's my favourite illustrator.

Chris, if you are unfamiliar with him, has illustrated and collaborated on and written-and-illustrated heaps of books in the last two plus decades and has won lots of awards for them, in addition to being a political cartoonist for The Observer and a Children's Laureate and a dad.

He is, by all accounts, very successful.

Guys, Chris draws everything, all day, every day.

He draws fellow travellers on the train.

He draws family members at a wedding.

He draws on Periscope, to music.

He draws on his hand when he's run out of paper.

And, I thought, if someone this successful still needs to draw every day, why am I not writing every minute?

As Maria Popova beautifully said over on Brain Pickings, "the sole substance of genius is the daily act of showing up."

(If you have the time or are feeling un-writerly, read this article and the extracts from John Steinbeck's daily diaries.)

And write, write anything, in every spare possible moment you get.

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22 July 2016

Gardening, writing, & a new old blog

And we're back.

(Not my actual garden. All pictures are from

I've been doing some gardening because I needed to not sit still for a bit, and actually get from the car to the house without navigating an obstacle course comprised mostly of brambles.

Weeding made me think about editing.


For the first stage of weeding I put on my thickest gloves and just rip everything I don't want out and throw it away. This doesn't take very long and it looks very impressive when you're done.

Editing equivalent: That paragraph can go. That chapter can go. Don't need those characters. Chop all that description out. Goodbye unnecessary romance, bad jokes, and how did this bit even get in here? I am so good at this!

The second stage of weeding is on your hands and knees with a trowel turning over every bit of soil and picking out the roots and stray bulbs and stones and anything else unwanted. This quickly becomes boring and can take several days. There is no noticeable difference upon completion. But it is necessary.

Editing equivalent: Correct three spelling mistakes, remove five stray commas, adjust that sentence, full stop here now, change seven words, find another spelling mistake, add a comma here...and that's the first edit of the first paragraph.

The third stage is covering the bed in mulch or cardboard or plastic and leaving it for a bit, to stop anything I might have missed  and prevent new weeds from seeding. This actually looks fairly neat and tidy now.

Editing equivalent: Put in draw. Ignore for weeks/months/years.

Fourthly and finally I return to it (weeks or months or even years later), dust it off, add all the new plants and flowers I've grown and take out the weeds that have somehow survived the previous actions.

Editing equivalent: Add a new character, chapter and three new twists that you thought about. Tweak a few more commas, fix 117 spelling mistakes (how are there still any left??!!).

It's finished now but, as with a story, you could go on neatening and tidying and weeding forever and ever.

Editing equivalent: It's finished now but, as with a garden, you could go on neatening and tidying and editing forever and ever.

The one big difference was that, while editing, I grow to loathe everything about my stupid words and predictable characters* but in gardening I'm visualising the beautiful (if by no means perfect) finished product and I enjoy working towards it.

*I've thought about this too. You know when you read a book in school and, while not ever your favourite thing it wasn't too bad. And then you go over and over and over it for weeks and weeks and weeks and by the end you know you will never hate anything more. That's what happens when you spend all that time on your story. Doesn't mean it's actually bad. And of course it's predictable, so is any crime thriller you read for a second time.

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