Monday, 19 September 2011

Hand-drawing a Library of Creative Inspiration

A while back I set up an Amazon affiliate shop widget thingy that (in theory) makes me a few pennies when someone clicks through to buy any of the books I've included in it. I say 'in theory' because so far I haven't made a single penny. Even so the whole 'making money from simply curating a collection of books that have inspired me' things leaves me feeling a bit icky and uneasy.

So I dreamt up a personal art project that disperses my own sense of ickiness about making unearned money ... I'm planning to hand-draw the front cover of each of the treasured books I own and share the reasons why I cherish it.

First up is Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg which I bought in 1999 from a bookstall at the Womad Festival when I was slightly under the influence of hot spiced cider. It was the first Natalie Goldberg book I bought and it's now dog-eared and travel-worn. Every now and then I misplace it at the bottom of a bag or a box and it seems to always resurface just at the moment when I've given up on ever finding it again. It was also the first book published by Shambhala that I bought. Over the years I've come to treat the Shambhala logo on a book as a sign that I should go ahead and buy the book I'm leafing through in a bookshop - they've become the gold standard of zen books for me :)

The opening paragraph will probably be enough for you to recognise whether Natalie's words speaks to your life story. It certainly was for me:
"I was a goody-two-shoes all through school. I wanted my teachers to like me. I learned commas, colons, semicolons. I wrote compositions with clear sentences that were dull and boring. Nowhere was there an original thought or genuine feeling. I was eager to give the teachers what I thought they wanted."
The overall message of Writing Down the Bones is *Sit down to write. Keep your hand moving.* If you sometimes find yourself frozen to the spot by perfectionism and procrastination then you'll find Natalie's words as comforting and inspiring as I did. What Natalie writes about is a lifelong journey of making "a choice for beauty, kind consideration [mostly for ourself], and clear truth." Mindful choices made with our feet on the ground and in the knowledge that "we are not running after beauty with fear at our backs."

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