Compulsory Podcast Episode 1: Rachael Ashe

No time like immediately to do something you just have to do, right? So today I recorded the first episode of my new podcast. It’s called Compulsory, and you can listen to it below. I’ve submitted it to iTunes, but it’ll take a few days to be approved over there, so for now, please listen here. I’ll let you know as soon as iTunes has it ready for subscribers! UPDATE: You can now subscribe to Compulsory on iTunes. Tell your friends!

In each episode, I’ll talk to someone about the things they absolutely must make. In this episode, that person is Rachael Ashe.

Artist Rachael Ashe makes cut-paper works of intricate, repeating designs. In today’s show, we discuss focus, repetition, tediousness, and more.

Relevant links:

If there’s anyone you’d like to hear on the show, talking about the things they have no choice but to make, shoot me a comment or an email!

Around the World Blog Hop

I was invited by the delightful and inspiring Hanna Andersson to participate in this not-quite chain-letter meme. Four broad questions, answers from, as you’ve surely surmised, around the world. Read Hanna’s answers here. I’ve passed these questions on to artist Rachael Ashe; I’ll let you know when she’s posted her answers.


What am I working on?

Many different things! Workwise, I’m editing a client’s memoir, preparing to both teach and speak about Mighty Ugly at Vancouver Mini Maker Faire this weekend, and I’m getting into some serious preparation for Make It Mighty Ugly to come out in three months. It’s that last one that’s the most intense, but also in part the hardest, because it’s not, you know, paid work, and so I’ve been squeezing it in between other projects, but really I just need to sit in front of my computer for several days on end to write up the materials we’ll be making available (oh, yes, there will be materials!) and redesign the website, and start getting book-tour travel plans in order…

Not related to work, I’ve been knitting a Gaenor, crocheting granny squares, dabbling in watercolour painting, making ice cream and generally getting ready to enjoy the summer before the insanity of the fall arrives. Instagram is a wonderful place to follow all that.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I don’t know what my genre is. Am I a crafts blogger? A creativity blogger? A book blogger? An author blogger? I work as an editor and writer, a book author, a workshop leader, a speaker. I work in crochet and in general crafts and in, I don’t know, is there a genre called creativity? Not-woo-woo nudging? I try not to spend any time thinking about this, to be honest.

But I do consider myself to fall into the very general category of maker/crafter/writer, and I suppose something that sets my work apart from others’ work in this area is that I’m intensely committed to talking about negative things. I am utterly unmoved by pretty posters delivering sparkly, diluted messages of hope, wonder, inspiration, and success, even though such posters and blog images seem to be ubiquitous especially in the realms of crafts and lifestyle blogs and sites and Pinterest. So, yeah. I’m inclined to view much of that content as a gushing stream of bullshit, and I’m very grateful for the few amazing people who valiantly swim against the tide, trying desperately not to drown.

Put more plainly, I like to focus on the truth of any given situation, not just the fantasy of it. The fantasy is the glittery Instagram of red shoes against a yellow-painted rustic floor. Reality is the dust bunny in the corner. I think the dust bunny is infinitely more interesting, and I wish we saw more of them. For they are not bad, they are simply real, and real is wonderful and important. And beautiful. The dust bunnies of life are freaking beautiful.

Why do I write/create what I do?

I write and make because if I didn’t I’d go, for real, insane. Writing is the way I exorcise my demons; making is how I keep myself from sloth and depression. Also, I love the people I meet because I do those things, and so doing them is also a way to continue meeting these people. People like you. There, I said it.

How does my writing/creating process work?

I don’t have a process, per se. Nothing that’s replicable. I write when I need to get something out, or when I have a deadline. I make something every day, as a new habit this year. Sometimes I do it all in the mornings, sometimes in the evenings, sometimes in the afternoon. Usually at home. Rarely with bourbon. The most reliable places I associate with developing new ideas are on public transit and in the shower.

And there you have it! I admit I surprised myself with the, you know, negativity in that one answer. But it’s the truth, so. Yay, dust bunnies!

Spanking New Website!

That title speaks for itself and my pajamas are beckoning, so I’ll say just one thing before I go collapse.

That header up there? That was cut from paper by artist Rachael Ashe. She’s amazing, hey? Know what’s cool about commissioning an artist to make your website header from paper? I have the actual piece beside my desk, waiting to be framed.

Oh, before I forget by passing out right here on my keyboard: Please let me know if anything’s broken!

Rut Race, Day 5: Get Out and Converse!

I’ve been in a rut and this post is part of a series I’m writing to chronicle my efforts to get out of it. Are you in a rut, too? Or maybe you just want to spiff things up a little for yourself? Join in. I’m calling it the Rut Race.

A month ago I saw Rachael Ashe at a Vancouver Mini Maker Faire event and she suggested we make a coffee date. She’s recently started working on her art full time and she’s been initiating coffee dates with lots of people. It’s something I used to do a lot, but haven’t done at all since the baby arrived. Since we started needing to pay for childcare, I’ve had a hard time not “working” when we’re paying the babysitter.


The thing about creative work, of course, is that it just doesn’t get done at all if you’re burnt out. And when I’m burnt out, I’m paying the babysitter so I can stare at Pinterest and wish I were sleeping. It’s way more worthwhile to pay the babysitter so I can recharge and get tons more work done.

Note to Self: Keeping up connections to people in my community is an integral part of my solo creative business. An integral part. Do not neglect it!

So. This morning I woke up tired and freaked out about my lengthy to-do list and tempted to hide under the covers and/or cancel my plan with Rachael. But this is the Rut Race and I did no such things. Which is good because Rachael and I got to know each other better and we talked about challenges we’re experiencing and we talked about our goals and we talked about people we know who might help the other in some way or another. It was fun and the place where we met was lovely and I’m so very glad we met up.

Then, since I’d already spent 45 minutes on the bus getting to Gastown, I had lunch with Emily, coordinator of Vancouver Maker Faire. We talked about how I can help more and we talked about the meaning of making and we talked about projects we want to do together. I always love talking to Emily, and it was a treat to have her all to myself for a time.

And now I’m writing this on my bus ride home. I’m exhausted because the baby didn’t sleep well last night and so I didn’t sleep well last night. And I’m feeling  stressed because I still have that pile of work waiting for me and I’ll only have an hour to work on it before the babysitter leaves. But I’m so glad I spent the bulk of my day with creative people I admire.

I have a list of items to follow up on. I feel connected to other creative people. I feel a part of something special and important.

Assuming I catch up on sleep tonight, I’m confident I’ll wake up tomorrow feeling even more glad about what I did today.

Have you been keeping yourself chained to your desk out of obligation or fear? (Stop doing that.)