Doodling for Writers Out October 6!

I haven’t posted here since the Before Times. Life is still mired in fear and chaos and the daily efforts to carry on during the Pandemic, but I have some most excellent news to share.

Doodling for Writers is available for preorders and will be out next month! I was inspired to make this book after many conversations with writers who, after learning that I draw, would confess, with much visible sadness and regret, that they can’t draw, had given it up in 3rd grade, wished they could draw but weren’t artist. And so on.

Doodling for Writers is a tiny book as my big hug to all these writers. It is designed to (1) help them see that anyone can draw and (2) give them techniques, ideas, prompts, and encouragement to help them feel empowered to draw and (3) help them incorporate drawing into their writing life.

Doodling for Writers includes 75+ of my cartoons, featuring puppy and cat.

Cartoon in Doodling for Writers, drawn by Rebecca Fish Ewan

Here’s what four amazing writers say about Doodling for Writers:

“I love this book! Insightful, instructive, charming, and encouraging, Rebecca Fish Ewan’s prompts and provocations will open new doors into your writing practice – and a drawing practice, too. In Doodling for Writers, erasers are like editors, lines have – or are – their own vocabulary, writers can be deciduous, and pleasure is paramount. A mix of practical advice and inspiring prompts, this book is a must for any writer who wants to enrich their process. It’s also a gentle but complete rebuttal of the all-too-common claim, “I can’t draw.” You can! And this book delightfully shows you how.” 

Randon Billings Noble, author of Be with Me Always

“Rebecca Fish Ewan’s Doodling for Writers gently takes the reluctant drawer on a masterful journey into the vast world of doodling. Full of easy to follow prompts and direct ways to connect doodling to the writing process, this book will be a must-have on any writer’s shelf. It’s funny, rich, irreverent and profoundly relevant to today’s creatives.” 

Laraine Herring, author of A Constellation of Ghosts: A Speculative Memoir with Ravens. 

“A delightful and wise guide to creative empowerment through the understated power of the doodle. Rebecca Fish Ewan is the perfect drawing buddy and Doodling for Writers contains a wealth of practical advice to get you drawing and visual perspectives to enrich your writing. It’s essential reading for any writer who draws or who aspires to, even if you doubt your artistic abilities. With this book as your companion, you’ll be happily drawing before you know it.”

Vanessa Berry, author of Mirror Sydney 

“Rebecca Fish Ewan’s Doodling for Writers is a super-fun book, but it’s also subversive, giving a view into the mechanics of creativity while posing as a craft book. Not only will this wonderful volume take a seat on the shelf next to Hillary Chute’s Why Comics?, Scott McLoud’s Making Comics, and Lynda Barry’s Syllabus—it extends the conversation about how visual thinking can help us all. All writers benefit from a comics mindset, Fish Ewan proposes. Part an inspirational call to one’s inner artist, part a compendium of engaging and inspiring prompts, part a quintessential work of show don’t tell, Doodling for Writers is full of good cheer and wise words. One wants to caution the reader: don’t be fooled, this is a weighty book. But in the end, it’s a call to enjoy the process and above all have good time.”

Elizabeth Kadetsky, author of The Memory Eaters

I’m so happy to be able to share this little book with writers and anyone else who yearns to draw! Welcome to the Doodleverse! Of course, Kafka makes a few appearances to lend his ever-encouraging hand. I leave you with his wise words about lines:

Cartoon in Doodling for Writers, drawn by Rebecca Fish Ewan

Doodling for Writers Coming Soon!

Super excited to share that Books by Hippocampus will be publishing my little book on drawing for writers! Here’s a link to the publishers blog post: Books by Hippocampus Blog. It includes this quick video I drew.

My mother-in-law gave me a cool set-up for mounting my phone above my drawing table. I’m just getting to know this new facet of drawing, but it’s fun and I’m hoping to share quick drawing tips with videos. I’ll probably post them on IG, since that’s the social media platform that is the least mysterious for me. I may—if I can figure it out (I just copied code from YouTube for this video, without any idea what I was doing, so there’s hope for future videos!)—post on a page here, so they’re easy to find. I love drawing and love sharing what I know and do.

The book will address drawing in black and white (a big universe of drawing to start with!), so I plan to do some watercolor videos to expand into color. Looking forward to sharing the book and more from the doodleverse!

Hello From the Other Side of Silence

You may have noticed, but I can be a bit of a recluse.

Sitting in the Jack Kerouac chair

No, I’m not resolving for 2020 to shed my introverted self and don a suit of gregariousness.

Instead, I resolve to remain a quiet person.

I will continue to share glimpses of my life, mostly my pets asleep, but some drawings, snaps of my family doing stuff, and hybrid word/images work.

When awesomeness occurs, I will mention it…eventually…

SHOUT OUT to all the introverts in the world. I see you.

My favorite quote about what lies within a quiet person’s mind:

“If we had a keen vision of all that is ordinary in human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow or the squirrel’s heart beat, and we should die of that roar which is the other side of silence.”*

Sometimes people don’t talk much, because they’re busy listening to the heart beats of squirrels.

*Words of Mary Ann Evans, who published under the name George Eliot, because this made her sound like she might be a man, more importantly, not a woman, something old dead dumb publishers thought was important.

Peace Out 2019

Drawing for Writers

A quick post to share a miscellany of doodling news for Summer 2019!

I did another post for DIY MFA focused on helping writers find their drawing voice. How to Draw Nothing. It’s a companion post to the one I did in January: Resolving to Draw More. At the very end of this new post, I also announce up-and-coming awesomeness, namely the Drawing for Writers workshop I’m doing at HippoCamp in August and the craft book on the same subject that I’m working on. Get out your doodle tools and have some fun making drawing a part of your writing life!

one of my doodles for the How to Draw Nothing post

Happy Birthday By the Forces of Gravity!

My cartoon/poetry memoir came out a year ago today! It’s been such an amazing year, for the book, for my own creative life. This spring I’ve been on sabbatical from my professor job at Arizona State University where I’ve been teaching landscape architecture for the past twenty-five years. I’ve spent this time away obsessed with hybridity, especially the mingling of drawings and words. And last week-end I made a pilgrimage to Los Angeles to attend a one-day workshop with Lynda Barry, a goddess of making words and images one thing again, as it is for four-year-olds. I’m working on a book on drawing for writers, a craft book made to carry in your pocket to help let drawing become part of your writing life. I’ve also been writing the Books with Pictures column for DIY MFA.

By the Forces of Gravity Book Cover

Basically, everything words and drawings as storytelling.

I’ve been drawing and writing my whole life, but By the Forces of Gravity becoming a book still feels like a major milestone in my pursuit of creating a life like a monk in a scriptorium, except with kids, a partner and a houseful of dogs and cats. A monk with benefits and no pestilence. Paradise.

From The Book of Beasts, a Medieval Bestiary translated by TH White, a book I just finished reading, in which I learned that sea urchins can foretell the future and monkeys get depressed under a full moon.

So, happy birthday to my sweet book! Despite it’s super sad storyline, it was such a joy to cast it into the cosmos last year and to see it every morning on my bedroom bookshelf (because, of course, I have a bedroom bookshelf). It’s liberating too to have finally told a story I carried for forty years, and now have room for others. More on that later.

Self-portrait: me as Batman, with pens on my superhero belt, drawn in the most awesome Lynda Barry Writing & Drawing the Unthinkable Workshop.

What, April is Half Over!?

March was a whirlwind that blew halfway through April. The AWP conference and reading in Portland and Astoria was awesome. I’m still reading through the books I brought home from the expo.

This week I was part of the DIY MFA Writer Igniter Memoir Summit. ICYMI they are reposting for this weekend. Here’s the link to sign up for this free series of interviews focused on memoir. I’m listening to the Tom Hart interview right now (and will no doubt re-listen this weekend, since I’m terrible at multitasking)

March On

It’s a challenge to balance the art of writing/drawing with the sharing of it. Creation versus promotion. I think I’m not alone in this effort to strike a harmonious accord between these two aspects of an artist/writer’s life.

A few weeks back, I sat down to write about upcoming readings and other cool writerly business, this kind of stuff:

Readings in Oregon:
Literary Cures for Fascism Fatigue: A Variety Show!
Monday, March 25, at 7:30
KALA, 1017 Marine Drive, Astoria

press release by Alyssa Graybeal

Readings, Book Signings and Tabling at AWP 2019 in Portland:

Reading from By the Forces of Gravity
March 28
12-1:15
C124, Oregon Convention Center
Writing Into the Silences: A Reading of Recent Creative Nonfiction(LaTanya McQueen, Randon Billings Noble, Grace Talusan, Rebecca Fish Ewan, Melissa Grunow) Authors whose work is widely and wildly diverse will read from and discuss their recently published creative nonfiction. All include an uncovering of the hidden or lost, but the contents range from a Filipino American experience; different kinds of hauntedness; the search for an ancestor, once a slave, whose life became a prism of the author’s own experience; the intersection of disability, queerness and desire; and a story about a 1970s kid’s commune told through drawings and free verse.

Signings at the Hippocampus Table 9092: I’ll be signing and doodling in By the Forces of Gravity!
March 28 1:30-3:00
March 29 3:00-4:00

Tabling at the Wayward/Unchaste Writers Table T2060: Books, chapbooks, zines and other merch by a collective of writers. I’ll have my new chapbook, Water Marks, and some Tiny Joys zines on the table.
Friday 9:00-1:00

Poem in an Australian literary journal: My poem Boy Shoes was accepted in Not Very Quiet, a literary journal dedicated to poetry by women, for the issue focused on performing gender. It’ll release this month.

New Book Review Gig: I’ll be writing book reviews for Split Rock Review, a place-based literary journal. Psyched to be on the masthead. Look for my first review this summer!

Book Review of Droodles in Hippocampus. This book is a compendium of work by Roger Price, specifically his drawing doodles, he called Droodles.

New post for my Books with Pictures column: Four micro-reviews of books released in 2018

All awesome happenings. All fill me with excitement and joy. But three weeks ago, I was feeling ruminant about my ability to walk without pain, and instead of sharing upcoming events and publications, I wrote a flash essay about March, the word, the month, the movement, the hare. I want to share it, because this is what is in a writer’s head while they’re working on their platform.

Here is what I wrote:
March, as a word in the Oxford English Dictionary, offers a panoply of meanings. To walk with intent, just one of them. The phrase “I’m mad as a March hare” paired the word with madness ages before college basketball was invented. March is also a long journey for animals, a toilsome walk for humans and a kind of wild celery. The meaning that delights me most is how march, usually in the plural marches, describes a track of debatable land. Perhaps derived from the old practice of walking around one’s property, marking its edges in order to claim all that your path of feet circumscribed, the marches became that fuzzy edge of the known.

I feel as though I’ve lived my whole life in this kind of place of betweeness.

I’m ruminating over this in an effort to anchor myself someplace, a habit of mine when I feel untethered. Today I’m watching cold rain drizzle from a gray sky. Today my bones ache as they grow coral-like around the metal that surgeons placed in my body just over three weeks ago. March is thought to derive from the Gaul term for hammer, the tool these surgeons used to pound a metal stake into my femur. My new hip joint has become the marches, the fuzzy boundary between the land of then and now. I’m learning how to march with it.

Marching connotes progress, a relentless movement ever forward, gaze locked on the beyond, thoughts intent on tomorrow. People march into battle or march in protest. Either way, their movement requires opposition. Marching implies the promise of victory. Or defeat.

Instinct warns me to shut my trap about the potentiality of any physical weakness. I can’t stop thinking about how lions survey herds on the march, their cat eyes searching for the lame, their bodies tense for a pounce. To avoid being devoured, I should pretend all is well. And it eventually may well be, but in this moment, it hurts to walk, to put on my left sock, to pretend.

I sat down to write of things to come, my trip to AWP in Portland, reading from By the Forces of Gravity, at the conference and in Astoria. Tabling with my new chapbook, signing my book. I planned to post links to recent publications. To work on my platform. Instead, I flitter back and forth between the long view and my own minutia. I watch the clouds darken the sky, squint through a magnifying glass into the tiny dictionary text, my retreat into the origins of words.

Maybe some days aren’t meant for marching forward. Maybe some days are for walking like a camel, as Thoreau recommends, camels being the “only beast which ruminates when walking.” Don’t think about this advice for too long or you’ll begin to wonder about cows, how they also ruminate when walking. People so often bring camels into essays for the element of surprise. Cows are an entirely different literary device. More plodding.

Let me ponder this last point while the day marches away.

 

Three 2018 Essays + Some Awesome 2019 Reads

My sabbatical officially starts tomorrow and I’m trying to prepare by organizing my physical and digital spaces. I try to keep up with my website updates, but I’m organizationally challenged, so in tidying up, I realized I forgot to link three essays that were published in 2018. It’s no reflection of the level of joy (yes, they Spark Joy, as my new guru of tidiness, Marie Kondo, would say) I experienced in having them picked up by three awesome online literary magazines: The Nervous Breakdown, Crab Fat, and After the Art.

They’re on my Other Publications page now, but just wanted to send them out here, as well:

I’m also collecting my 2019 awesome reads stack, some in preorders, some already part of my tsundoku (“the art of acquiring more books than one will read such that they gather in stacks and flocks on shelves and floors,” so quoted Rob Macfarlane, an author whose book I bought and have not yet read). However, I intend to read these gems, and others, this year:

a sampling of my tsundoku

Happy 2019!

 

 

Water Marks, Plankton Press’s First Chapbook!

Plankton Press began what I hope will be a long and tiny tenure in chapbook publishing with the release of Water Marks, word and images reflecting on wet (December 2018). The plan is begin to publish the art/words of other people, but I have been guinea-pigging the publishing process with my own creations, starting with zines and now adding this chapbook.

cover drawing done while listening to When the Levee Breaks performed by Led Zeppelin

Water Marks includes sixteen ink/watercolor drawings I made while listening to water music (playlist in the back of the chapbook), and words I’ve written and collected about water over the years. None of it is previously published elsewhere.

Sample spread:

specs: 5×5 inch square, perfect bind, 59 pages. Hybrid of ink, watercolor, poetry and prose.

Price: 10 USD. Copies are at Wasted Ink Zine Distro and/or you can e-mail me about purchasing a copy (fishewan at gmail.com).

Like making zines, creating a chapbook from start to finish is a wonderful experience. I used InDesign to lay it out, scanned the images at home (also where I write and draw), but learned the process of chapbook-making through an online class in the Literary Kitchen. It was super helpful for learning the publishing steps, places to print, things to think about before committing to a layout or page count. Plus the Literary Kitchen is an awesome community of writers/poets/artists. Check out all the books these amazing women have published!  Water Marks is about the size and weight of a music CD (remember those?), but is a printed book (remember those?). Yay, print lives!