Friday, July 29, 2016

On Making a Literary Life and No Excuses Art Journaling

I searched for the book Making a Literary Life (here) and was happy to find a used hardcover copy at Powell's online bookstore. As I had to pay a flat shipping charge anyway, I threw caution to the wind and ordered a book on art journal techniques as well. 

They both arrived within the week. I was afraid there might be underlining or highlighting or marginalia that would distract me (plus mar the book). That is one disadvantage of ordering used books online - I can't hold them and determine their condition for myself.

Anyway, I needn't have worried as both previously-owned books arrived in good condition.

I am happy to note that Carolyn See's book on a making a literary life is just as entertaining as it was when I read it years ago. I like a book on writing that includes the highways and byways of the author's experiences. Ms. See's book is full of these as well as humor and sound advice.

She writes in the introduction that her intention is to help a new writer - or someone even thinking about becoming a writer - through the maze of finding her or his voice, writing, getting published, and what to do afterward. Even though I have been living a writer's life for decades, it is still helpful to read her thoughts on starting out and to recall my own first days of putting pen to paper.

This is not a book about grammar and spelling and punctuation, but a book about creating a life of writing. I love it.


My other passion - alongside books, writing, and reading - falls in the visual arts world. I snooped through Powell's inventory of art journal books and found No Excuses Art Journaling: Making time for creativity by Gina Rossi Armfield.

Her idea is to use a desk calendar/planner as an art journal and a way "to capture the moments in your days." There are ideas on ways to spice up your journal. She shows how to add envelopes and sheets of watercolor papers to enhance the pages and offers monthly prompts and inspiration. 

On a daily basis she suggests picking a color and a word of the day along with drawing a pattern or design of some sort and the weather. Simple ways to keep your journal going.

Ms. Armfield's book also features twelve guest artists and has photographs of their take on her ideas. It is great resource. And very colorful.

I am off this weekend to a one-day workshop called 'Creating a WaterCOLOR Journal' in which I hope to learn something about color theory and color mixing. And who knows what else.  Then I plan on pulling out my art journal and playing. No excuses.


  1. I've got No-Excuses on my wishlist! I read a copy from the library and really liked it. Hope you have a great time at the workshop. I've got the sketching "itch" again, and have pulled out some books I've got on sketching (and my sketchbook) and will be playing around again. It's too hot to do anything outside unless I have to!

    1. Hi, Kathy. Yes, I do think the No Excuses book is a keeper. If you are interested, there are a couple of quick videos on YouTube featuring Ms. Armfield doing her art journal thing.

      The color workshop was fun. Quite a lot of info about mixing watercolors, color palettes, color schemes, etc. I came away with a Strathmore journal full of the exercises we did as a reference. Worth my time and money. Although I will have to admit I am more of a slop-the-paint-down-and-hope-for-the-best type of artist!

      Happy (indoor) sketching.

  2. I love Carolyn See's novels and do have a copy of Making a Literay Life. I read a bit of it and was struck by her advice to write charming notes to writers every day. If only I had that charm! I also like the look of the ARt Journaling Book very much.

    1. Hi, Kat. I did read your post about Ms. See's demise and your recommendations on her fiction. I will definitely have to try at least one of her novels.

      I remembered her 'charming notes' from the first time I read Literary Life and have written quite a few but never a year's worth. That seems like an extraordinary feat! I wouldn't know 365 people to write to...

      Perhaps singing the praises of certain authors here on BBandC counts.

      The art journaling is a new-ish thing with me and as usual I do more reading and watching YouTube instructional videos about it than actually doing it.