Puffin Food Zine

Zines have been on my radar for a while, but as a fringe idea that I didn't fully understand. It wasn't until I watched some YouTube videos about them (YouTube always fixes everything) and then attended a workshop about them that I got really excited by the concept of making my own.

I realized that the whole point of zines is that they're all about harnessing the power of self-publishing. They toss out any ideas about being precious with a huge project and just let you make something, anything, however you want. I'd just been starting to think about the possibilities of submitting my work to magazines and journals for publication, and while I was excited, I was also sad that it completely depended upon other people whether or not I'd get to see my work in print. Zines made me realize that it doesn't have to depend on anyone else.

I decided to make one! The more I thought about it the more I got excited by using the zine to share more voices than just my own. I thought I'd love to celebrate exactly what it was about zines that excited me: overcoming the fear to create and just doing it. So I reached out to my friends and low and behold they were all excited to take part. The process of organizing it began! It was so much fun to collect lots of different types of work - poetry, a short story, an essay, illustrations, a photograph, a comic - and try to pair them up and put things in an order that (at least I think) made sense.

And then, poof! I had a beautiful object. Something I'd made that celebrated art. I can't really convey, unless you've also felt it, the absolute pride that came from creating something I was genuinely proud of. It was also so important to me that it was physical. As a very internet-oriented being, physical objects are not usually in the realm of things I create. This felt so real and heavy and palpable. Can you tell how in love with it I am?

Next up came sharing it! I decided to make a video that celebrated zines, hoping to spread the excitement that zines had sparked in me with everyone else. And I decided to make it available both digitally and physically. I love that it's physical, as mentioned, but I can't escape my love of the internet it seems. The idea that people could instantly have it, anywhere in the world, that's a beautiful force I couldn't break away from.

If you want to check it out, click here. Thank you to everyone that contributed to the zine, and I hope everyone enjoys it. (And if you're wondering why it's called "Puffin Food".... all is revealed in the zine!)

Book Spine Poem

Dear boy,
Happiness can't and won't carry on since you've been gone.
We were liars lost at sea,
soppy,
love sick;
if this isn't nice, what is?
In real life the dark,
the light between oceans,
we,
decline and fall.

This is a poem that I wrote for a challenge issued by the BookTube-A-Thon! I ended up really liking it so I thought I'd share it here too.

February Challenge: Writing 14 Poems

Time to look back at last month's writing challenge! In February I challenged myself to write 14 poems. I've been enjoying poetry lately and thought it'd be fun to challenge myself to write more than I usually do. I chose 14 simply because it was Valentine's Day on the 14th. I agree that the logic is lacking. How'd I do?.....

Pretty well, actually! I'm surprised! Part way through the month (okay, near the end of the month) I realized I hadn't been making a conscious effort to really sit down and write poems but that through jumping on inspiration and writing poems right when I thought about them - instead of mulling them over for ages and not ever writing anything down like I usually do - I actually managed to write more than usual! The big question is did I write 14 poems. And the small answer is no. I wrote 5. Which isn't even close to the target. But is still so much more than I usually write that I feel happy about it. Here are two of my favourites:

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WHAT DID I LEARN.

1/ It's a really great idea to write things down the second they come to you. That way you actually make something! Later on you can edit or tweak or add or despise, but at least you've actually let one of your ideas come to life. Especially if you're like me, aka a mess, and don't currently have writing as a scheduled part of your day, this is important to getting stuff down. I had two ideas for poems throughout the month - one about waking up to the sight of flowers and one about a lost letter - that I didn't act on and I wish I had. I let them build up in my head instead of letting them out. I still haven't written them! Booooo, Ariel!

2/ Accept that your first draft will be bad but do it anyway. I wrote a poem out of anger this month. It was FANTASTIC. I kid you not! I was angry and so I just started writing a messy awful poem that now actually exists. And maybe I'll never look at it again. Or maybe I'll craft it into something better. But the point is that we can't make something great if we haven't made anything at all.

This was a really fun challenge, something I had in the back of my mind the whole month and made me try to write more. I wasn't as successful as I aimed to be, but this is all a growing thing, eh? I have never in my life written five poems in one month. It's all improvement!

March Challenge: Share My Stuff! I've decided I need to stop hiding my stuff. Art is fun because you can share it (among other reasons) (sometimes the fact that you don't have to share art is the best part) (so really I'm full of lies and contradictions). I want to share my stuff! I want to experiment with performance, learn to take feedback, and grow my confidence in shouting out about my art. My goals for March are threefold: to upload a performance of one of my poems to YouTube, to do a live performance at a spoken word event, and to submit something to a publication for print. These are three very different ways of sharing my work but three things I have been wanting to do for a long time. Join me in making March a month of sharing!

 

January Challenge: Writing in My Journal Every Day

It's the last day of the month which means it's time to look back on this month's challenge! Don't know what I'm talking about? Check out this post where I announce that every month this year I'm going to be attempting a different writing challenge! In January the challenge was simple: write in my journal every day. IMG_3177

.... I kind of failed. I didn't do it every day. I did write some, but not every single day. This is really productive information! I've never been good at keeping a journal and this to me is the final evidence that it just isn't my thing so I'm going to let it gooooooo. No longer will I feel like a failure if I don't write in a journal faithfully. I've been trying it on and off for over a decade and it NEVER WORKS. In this post I do discuss how carrying a mini journal around with me IS something I find very useful so I'm going to accept my fate, play to my strengths, and do what works for me. In the future if I decided to try writing every day again I need to pick a specific time. I found that often it would be late at night and I'd remember that I needed to write and I'd end up scribbling something useless... as you can see in this photo:

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February Challenge: Because it's the month of Valentine's I thought it would be nice to do something themed: let's write poems! Valentine's day is on the 14th, so I've decided to write 14 poems this month.. a lot more than usual. To go with our theme I'm aiming to write some love poems but I also want to feel free to write anything that comes to me! Let's see how it goes!

Writing in Reading: Girls Standing on Lawns

Welcome to a new series, huzzah! In this series I want to review books from the perspective of what they teach me as a writer. Reading is an important hobby to me and while I learn a myriad of things from it I wanted to focus in on writing elements.

Up first: Girls Standing on Lawns by Maira Kalman and Daniel Handler

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The first thing I really took away was the need to give yourself up to collaboration. Collaborations will change projects, they will not be the same as doing them on your own. This book was a collaboration of Kalman and Handler, but also of MoMA. In fact, MoMA had the most submissions, with only a few illustrations from Kalman and very little writing from Handler. I think what's important for me to learn here is that projects change through collaboration and that we can't be stubborn: we need to adapt to what is working as a team. This was a very different project than Why We Broke Up because of the added collaborator and that's allowed too - there's no form you ever have to be stuck in.

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The next thing I picked up on was the power of simplicity. Daniel Handler, the writer in this photo/painting/writing collaboration, had very few contributions but they still felt very important. He was like a subtle narrator, nudging the ideas and concepts along. His stripped down phrases really reminded me that simple can be powerful. This is something that I often think about because it's an ideal that George Orwell (my true love) practiced and preached and what I think, in part, made him so successful.

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Finally, and this isn't necessarily about writing, but can still be related to writing I think, I found Kalman's copies of pictures to not be redundant but in fact original. There's a big culture of "what you make has to be fully original or else it's not true genius!" in art and it's very limiting and pressuring. I'm constantly nervous that I'm copying things I've read or heard or seen without even thinking about it. While there definitely is plagiarism I found Kalman's blatant copying and reconstructing fantastic and liberating. She wasn't ripping anything off, she was making something new, something that only she could make, based on something else.

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I hope that you enjoyed this! I hope to do more of them in the future as I read books that teach me new things about writing!

 

12 Months, 12 Writing Challenges

Writing is still very new to me. Because of where I've grown up the actual action of writing is something I've been doing since I was tiny, and because of school I've written hundreds (maybe thousands?! That's a frightening thought..) of assignments, but the action of setting out to write creatively with no motivator is new. Never before have I been so conscious of my want to write. Along with that newness can come shyness and trepidation and so I want to combat that with shameless excitement and experimentation. I've decided to set myself a different writing challenge every month. That will give me ~30 days to try something new. I feel like a month of effort for any project is enough time to test the waters. At the beginning of each month I'll write a blog post sharing my self-challenge, and then at the end of the month I'll post a summary of my thoughts! 

Starting off with January, let's go! Because we're already half-way through January, and I'm back in school, I've decided to start off easy. My January challenge is to write in my journal everyday. There's no limit or theme, just simply to write something.

I have a few ideas for really exciting challenges but not 12 yet, so if you have any suggestions  leave them in the comments - I'd love to hear from you! I can't wait to share how these work out, and here's to having a great year of writing!

Hello, 2016!

IT'S A NEW YEAR! I know a lot of people think that the turn of a new year is an arbitrary day that shouldn't be celebrated but I am not one of those people. I like the feeling of a fresh start. I like the opportunity to look back and reflect, and to look forward and hope and dream. 2015 was a big year for me - in fact, I'd say it was the biggest year I've ever had. I travelled an unfathomable amount, I made important relationships, and I feel like I grew and evolved more than ever before. One of the most important shifts that happened was my new focus on writing. Something I'd always wanted to do I actually started to do! And better yet, I enjoyed!

I understand that resolutions are usually declared the first day of the year, but since the 1st of January sits in the middle of my winter break I've lost all track of time. I'm going to spend the next few weeks before my final semester starts thinking up some fun and achievable writing goals for 2016 and I'll make a post about them soon!

For now, I wanted to say hello to 2016 and goodbye to 2015 - a year I will always treasure.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6PO3a4xdoss

21 Days Into NaNoWriMo

It's November, which for any writer on the internet means you're either in the throws of panic trying to write a 50k word novel, or you're trying to discern whether or not you should have tried to write a 50k word novel. I've failed NaNoWriMo three times. The first year I had a blast trying it, but the two years after that became less and less fun. Last year I decided to not even attempt it. The concept of races and challenges don't seem to work for me, they don't motivate me, they just stress me out and make me feel guilty. I find I can't sit down to write every day without fail and then I feel like a chump for not doing it and then I feel like I've failed and then it starts to spiral out of control. Humbug. This year, however, I've been enjoying writing a lot more, and especially in writing in different forms. I decided to do NaNoWriMo (partly because it's misery to see everyone around you participating if you're not) on my own terms. It'd be about writing every day, or at least about writing more than I usually do.

It's been a success, I think! Part way through the month, I'll admit, I've started to really lose momentum. I've been so incredibly swamped with school (seriously, it sounds like an excuse, but I might actually drown in this pile of homework) and have been worn down by the darkness that arrives at 4:30. But I've written. I've written poems that I think are good, and short stories that I think are interesting. I've written memories that made me happy, and essays that have made me think. I've output far more than I usually do, and I want to keep doing it long after NaNoWriMo ends.

I think, really, that's the true test. If I just have a big burst once a year I can't consider myself a writer. Not the definition of the word the I want to embody, at least. I want to write constantly, because when I do I find myself having immeasurable fun. When it's over I love pouring over what I've written tearing it apart and celebrating it in equal measure. I want to write, and I don't want to forget to write because I'm lazy or busy or otherwise engaged.

The nature of NaNoWriMo is very WRITE NOW EDIT LATER, and I've held to that. I've tried to polish things up a little bit, but mainly they're in a pretty raw state, which means I'm not too ready to share anything yet. When this craziness ends though (and this craziness includes school), I'm hoping to go over some of the things I've written and post some of them here for everyone to see!

I posted a video about NaNoWriMo that you can watch down below, or by clicking here.

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kM9t8hlc3VM[/embed]

A Commissioned Poem by Jen Campbell

My lovely buddy Jen Campbell is currently raising money for charity (click here to find out more!) by writing 100 poems in 48 hours. I commissioned one about my partner and myself and it's so beautiful that I wanted to share it and keep it on my blog. I've pasted it below, but please check out Jen's page (click here to go see it!) to support her project and read some of her other great stuff!

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I remember reading a Donne poem about compasses and distances and how no matter how far you go, we’ll always lean  towards each other. How planes go further north to catch the curve like baseball - which is a game I’ve never played 

but I’m playing now.  I could step outside and look straight up  and you could look up, too, and we could be that ridiculous couple who pretend to see the same things in the same sky.  Seek out the satellite throwing our voices into space  and down again in front of the other person - because that’s what’s happening right now. 

We’re cheating geography, you and me. We are existing in two places.

Non-Fiction: 5773km

\\\ Click here to read “5773km” ///

I wrote a piece of non-fiction .. my favourite! I think it's interesting that although non-fiction is (currently, at least) my favourite thing to write, this is the first thing I've shared with you. It's a very short piece on how much I miss my partner, and why being in a long distance relationship is very frustrating. I expect it'll be a running theme, at least for a while, and I'm actually excited to have such a concrete theme to work around and produce content about. Hope you enjoy it!

Designated Writing Time

In my "I'm Back and Ready to Write!" post I mentioned that leaving my blog also made me leave writing. The main reason was that I lost my designated writing time. WHICH BRINGS ME TO TODAYS TOPIC. Along with my friend Alia, (hi, Alia!) we have started Writing Wednesdays. Every single Wednesday we meet at a café in our city and write for about 3 hours. We're not working on anything together, but we are working together. We hold each other accountable - "I'm not going on twitter if she's writing!" "This is a special time, I should write!" "If she's being productive I want to be productive too!" And for me, because it's a 35 minute drive to the cafe, "I came all this way, I want to get at least one post done!"

I've found these Writing Wednesdays indispensable. Writing is tough work, it requires so much effort and so much focus. It's tough to do casually, and so I mostly don't. Which is why these sessions are so great - I can't forget them, and during them I only have one goal: to write.

Now those sessions have been amazing, but I can't just get away with three hours of writing a week (especially since it's more like 2 hours since the café has internet and I have an addiction problem). I need to implement a few more dedicated sessions for myself. Maybe one day I'll be able to get away with writing without a schedule, but I need to be honest with myself and admit that right now I can't pull it off. I need the designated time to stay focused and make it a priority.

Notebook Experiment // After

TALK ABOUT A SUCCESSFUL PROJECT, HURRAH! DSC00117

If you didn't read Part 1, I decided to take a notebook with me for a few days of travel to try and see if it got me to write more. I could fill the pages with anything and everything. No rules. Just to fill it.

The first problem wasn't content based, it was size. My notebook was too big to fit in my pocket, and I needed it to be handy. So on the train I realized I had to rip it in two. Which was NOT an easy feat. Not only was it tough to try and rip all of the pages and the covers with some resemblance of order, but it was so SO loud and I felt bad for everyone on the train around me.

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After I had something manageable, something I could easily whip out of my pocket and shove back out of sight, I started trying to fill it. At first it was all very mundane things, mini observations or quick thoughts.

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As I started to get into the swing of things, though, my writing became much longer. It was intrinsically tied with my travelling alone - I could be walking along, think of something I wanted to write about, and then sit down and write about it for 15 minutes or 2 hours. I have lots of thoughts on the majesty of travelling alone, and I won't dump them all here, but the combination of travelling on my own and writing some of my thoughts down felt like I was finally sorting through my brain. I say finally because it felt like a relief - as if I'd been meaning to do it for ages and had never had the time.

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Our conclusions? This was brilliant. 10/10, do recommend. What I find most challenging now, after returning home and being surrounded by people, is finding the time. But that's a challenge for anything, and the only solution is to MAKE the time. I've now bought tiny notebooks, because let's get real I looked ridiculous, and can't wait to fill them with all sorts of things. I haven't written this much in ages - it feels safe writing in my notebook, very much as though there is no audience but myself. What everyone said is true (gosh darnit) - writing by hand really makes you forge forward and not spend time constantly editing yourself like you do when typing things out.

Do you use notebooks? Do you think you would give this a try? (I think you should!) Is there any difference between writing something out in a notebook or typing something out in the notes app? (You definitely look more legit with a notebook, just saying.)

 

Notebook Experiment // Before

A lot of the writers (and other artists) I've been reading about lately have mentioned how helpful they find the physicality of a notebook. Neil Gaiman, for example, went out and bought a fountain pen when he started writing Stardust. It also just feels like an artist type thing to do, and if I can't be an artist, well gosh darnit I'll look like one. I'm about to leave home for five days (a day in London and then four days in Rome) and have decided to take this empty (empty now that I ripped the first quarter of school notes out) notebook with me. Which, actually, is a big thing. Because I'm doing these five days of travelling with just one backpack and taking dead weight is something I always avoid. But I'm going for it! For these five days I'll try my best to fill it with whatever I think an artist would put in there (because I'm a beautiful phony) and when I come back I'll make a post about how this experiment works out with some pictures of what I manage to put in there!

This'll be fun, yeah? WHO DOESN'T LOVE A BEFORE AND AFTER REVEAL? Everyone does.

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Retweets and Money in Hats

I've decided to retweet more. Such a simple life decision. But I reckon it'll have really good consequences. (In fact, I have proof that it will.)

I've been revelling in what I've decided to label my "entrance into the art world." I feel I've always been on the peripheries - admiring artists and projects, but not acting like a producer or proper celebrator. With the advent of this blog of mine a whole tidal wave of stuff is going on behind the scenes where I'm trying to be a better encourager of arts.

It started in Paris, as all things must. (That sentence didn't fully make sense or have any context but I like how it sounds so I'm leaving it.) I was on the metro when a guy whipped out a guitar and continued to play the best version of Ho Hey I've ever heard. And although it wasn't the first time, I knew I had to give this guy some change. And then I kept doing it. And every time I do throw some money in a hat/tin/instrument case two things happen: #1 I feel like a Supporter of The Arts, and #2 I AM a Supporter of The Arts! So not only am I giving myself an ego boost, I'm LEGIT HELPING PEOPLE MAKE STUFF THEY WANT TO MAKE.

Which leads to retweeting. It's the penny in the hat of the internet. Actually, it's more (and less). It's more because exposure is the best gift you can give an artist. (It's less because I'm not actually giving anyone money. But exposure leads to money. So, really, it's ++.) I've started retweeting things I like! What a simple concept. And yet, one day into this conscious decision IT'S ALREADY PAYED OFF. I retweeted a video from a creator I've admired for a very long time, and because of that he (I figure) checked me out and followed me! Because you know what artists love? When people share their art. ITS A FEEDBACK LOOP, FOLKS.

So go retweet my content. Share stuff. It makes everyone happy.

#CurrentlyWorkingOn

I couldn't tell you what inspired me to make the title a hashtag. I thought I'd make a little post sharing what projects I'm currently trying to make happen.

1) Short Stories - Last year I shared a short story of mine, Acetone [click here to read it], with the world and it was such a bizarre feeling. I've realized since then that reading that story to everyone was the first time I ever consciously made art and then shared it. Obviously I share YouTube videos, but they feel distinctly different. I've also had piano recitals, but they were only ever attended by other piano students so it never felt legitimate. This was me, writing something, throwing it at people who didn't know any of the context, and then just holding on to my seat waiting to hear back. I want to do more of that. I've created a page on this here website to post stories to. That'll be good, eh?

2) Non-fiction Essays - I'M WRITING A BOOK. Yeah. That's right. I've become that person. "I'm writing a book," she says, to the distress of everyone around her. It's a non-fiction book, even more disappointingly. I'm really jazzed about it. I'm following in the footsteps of my main love George Orwell, and I'm writing a collection of completely erratic and unrelated essays. I'm not sure in what capacity I want to share this project, but we'll figure something out.

3) Photo Collaboration with [Greg] - This is a minor project, but I'm genuinely very excited about it and so I thought I'd bring it up! A while ago Greg sent me a cool tumblr set [see here] and I loved it and figured we could do something similar. We've had scheduling problems, we keep getting ill, but this is something I want to do before I go back to Canada. I'm particularly excited about this one because a) it's a collaboration with someone I want to collaborate with, b) I've not ever done anything with photography before (except for instagram, and I mean, no), c) it's very hands on with the sewing element, which I think will be lots of fun. My current embarrassment is that I had to leave my pretty Canon T5i back in Canada and am therefore going to have to take pictures on my point-and-shoot which I use for vlogging. BUT OH WELL. I won't let my tools keep me down!

These are the things I currently have on the go. If anything else comes up, I'll let you know! Because I can! Because I have a blog! HOW EXCITING, EH?

She Has A Blog

Instead of moving forward in my internet endeavours it appears that I’m working backwards. Welcome to the blog.

Yes! A blog! How absolutely tragic! Except actually we should all be very excited! In the last little while 3 things have happened that made me end up typing this post. 1) I read “Show Your Work!” by Austin Kleon [click here to go to his website] and took a lot away from it – one of the many things (I’ll be talking about the book in a video, so more to come!) was the importance of sharing work, and sharing the process of work. YouTube doesn’t give me that ability with the same facility that a blog does. 2) I got jealous of my friend Greg’s blog [click here to see it], because it’s this beautiful catalogue of all the cool stuff he’s doing and I wanted that too. Also, let it be known that I basically just copied my website after his. (Thanks, Greg, you're such an INSPIRATION.) 3) I’ve been hit with a creative energy that I’m very excited to try and harness. I want to make some cool projects, and I want to share them with you.

So here we are! This is the obligatory first post. I hope it was everything you dreamed of.