Doodling for Writers released in October and the splendor of this fact has been quiet. Promoting a book while the pandemic is mounting a terrible resurgence feels so trivial, so I really haven’t done much to even celebrate its birth—no release party, no book tour or signings. As an introvert, low fanfare feels fine, but in truth this book emerged from my great affection for writers and for drawing. It’s my palm-sized attempt at match-making. My goofy love letter to all those writers who are holed up at home right now struggling to put words to the page. So here’s my pitch:
Dear Word Lover,
I have a friend I’d like you to meet, very fun, loving, loyal, fairly low-maintenance, adaptable and always game for adventure. I think you’d grow to love my dear friend Doodle, if you give them a chance. I know you’ve told me you’re afraid, that all your friends are words, that you haven’t even considered a doodle friendship since you were spurned in third grade, but now you’re home alone with a pen. What’s the harm?
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.
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.”
“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.”
“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.”
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:
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!
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.
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.
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.
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:
Be With Me Always, essay collection by Randon Billings Noble, out in March by Nebraska University Press.
Human Heartbeat Detected, essay collection by Chelsey Clammer with Red Hen Press, not sure of the release date for this, but am super excited to read! Chelsey Clammer’s writing is awesome and she teaches great workshops through WOW.
The reading at Changing Hands Bookstore last week was awesome! I meant to post these pictures right away, but the week just zipped away.
This Saturday morning, I’ll be tabling at Meet Your Literary Community at Phoenix Public Market. I’m reading in a big reading marathon (I go on last at 11:30) and people can come to my table (#57) where my friend, Sari, and I will be selling books, zines, and helping people print bookmarks on my Multigraph.
print this bookmark!
Then, on Sunday October 28, I’ll be tabling again at PHX ZINE FEST! Zines, books, printing love post-cards that you can personalize and then pop into the Tiny Joys Post (and then into the USPS for delivery)! It’s an awesome event, full of zines, art, music, food, panels, buttons, and all things zinester.
The flurry leading up to the book launches in Phoenix and Berkeley has subsided. I’ve spent the past month doing interviews, knitting and cleaning up the mess the house had become while I was busy with the By the Forces of Gravity.
By the Forces of Gravity Book Cover
Not that I do much house work. I don’t. Basically, I bought another vacuum robot and threw out old food.
baby gift I knit for two expecting musicians
Below are links to interviews about making the book, By the Forces of Gravity, including the experience of drawing, writing, and finding my voice. At the end of this blog post, I link info about readings, presentations and workshops I’m doing this Fall:
Creative Nonfiction Podcast with Brendan O’Meara, episode 106. It was so fun doing the podcast. I was in my SCUBA diver friend Barb’s dining room in the Berkeley Hills the morning of the Berkeley launch and Brendan was up in Eugene while we chatted via Skype. Now I’m hooked on podcasts and have listened to a bunch of CNFPod and more.
Drawing Out Grief, New memoir explores girlhood friendship, hippie parenting, and buried grief. Interview by Ariel Gore for Psychology Today, posted June 18, 2018
These articles ran in the print version of the newspaper, which was so awesome to see.
in the Lancaster Newspaper, July 15, 2018
It’s been super fun seeing reviews by readers, doing interviews. I love getting to talk with people about crafting the poems and cartoons, and working with my amazing publisher, Donna Talarico, and her new imprint Books by Hippocampus. I’m so happy to have By the Forces of Gravity be the press’s first single-author book. Keep your eye out for the next one, Dig: A Personal Prehistoric Journey by Sam Chiarelli. Check out this cover!
Guest Authoring for The Debutante Ball, a blog celebrating up and coming authors and their books. There will be a book giveaway with this, so click on over on July 28 to see how to win a signed copy of By the Forces of Gravity and a pencil. (update, link now goes to the interview)
I’m the new Books with Pictures columnist for DIY MFA, a website listed in the 100 Best Website for Writers by The Write Life. I’ll provide links as my articles post on diymfa.com. We just had a big group meeting via Zoom, 14 women from all over talking about the site and writing. DIY MFA is Gabriela Pereira’s brainchild. I met Gabriela at HippoCamp 2017, the creative nonfiction writer’s conference created by Donna Talarico and her team at Hippocampus Magazine.
Speaking of Hippocamp, I’ll be reading from By the Forces of Gravity and leading a session called Doodling for Wordies. I’m 100% in love with helping writers let drawing into their writing life.
It was such a wonderful experience to return to my alma mater (class of 1979 and also where I started my teaching career at 19!) to read from my new book, By the Forces of Gravity. A total joy to see so many familiar faces, and meet new ones! Many thanks to Maybeck High School and Trevor Cralle (also class of 1979 and author of The Surfinary (awesome book and home to my first-ever published cartoon, the Valley Sheep)) for co-hosting the event with my publisher, Books by Hippocampus! Donna Talarico, a million thanks to you! Thanks to everyone who came out on a full moon evening in Berkeley to celebrate the book! Here are a few images from the event.
Reading in the Fireside Room at Maybeck High School (still renting rooms in a church, but way more swanky than when I went to school there)
It feels magically real that tomorrow boxes of books will arrive in the mail, then on Saturday people will gather at The Hive (yay Wasted Ink Zine Distro and Charissa Lucille for co-hosting with my publisher Books by Hippocampus and the amazing Donna Talarico-Beerman!) to help me celebrate the book release, then on the 19th By the Forces of Gravity will land on shelves and in mailboxes, and then (what another and then!) I’ll head to Berkeley for another launch celebration at Maybeck High School (where I went in the 1970s, some of which is featured in the book). Thanks Trevor Cralle for helping make the Maybeck event happen! Pineapples forever! Here are the fliers I made for the events. Now I need to go paint. Peace, love and gravity!
I also made Facebook event info pages for each of these events:
A few days ago By the Forces of Gravity went to the printer! It’s such an amazing feeling to know this story will be out there in the universe of books. I’m super excited as well that there’ll be launch events at two places that are so dear to me and have been instrumental in the development of my creative life: Wasted Ink Zine Distro in Phoenix and Maybeck High School in Berkeley.
I can say without any doubt that Maybeck saved my life. If I hadn’t gone to Maybeck High School way back in 1975, I wouldn’t be blogging about anything right now, because I would not have lived to be pushing sixty had I stayed on the path I was on. Also, being able to start my teaching career at Maybeck when I was just 19 years old, gave me the push into adulthood I needed (though being a grownup really didn’t stick for another decade or two).
Wasted Ink Zine Distro introduced me to the awesome world of zines and I am forever grateful to be a part of this community of people who love making things with paper as much as I do. I started Plankton Press, inspired by the DIY spirit of WIZD.
Below are the links to the Facebook event pages for both launches. I hope to see you there! My publisher, Books by Hippocampus, will have limited edition signed prints of this sketch I did for the first 25 people who come to the event. We also have pencils! (see images below)