help me find things


…like courage, certainty, a sense of purpose…motivation!

I have been on-again/off-again working on a book about keeping journals, featuring my journal pages (the above is an example) for about four years now, possibly even longer.

It’s not about ‘art’ it’s about vulnerability, honesty, my heart to your heart, the depth of a daily life….I imagine a  vulnerable book with my homely, shabby journal pages and my take on the creative life and why keeping a journal is such an essential practice for creative people…or well, just people, actually.

However, I veer wildly with this project from deep immersion, drive, fun, certainty ‘Write the book you would love to READ, Helen’, write to your friends and loved ones, write to all the people struggling to find purpose or to hold it or to white-knuckle-it through the hard stuff…

… a stultifying self-doubt, agonising inertia, FEAR FEAR FEAR – – ‘why would you do this? WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? no one wants to read this self-indulgent drivel…people will make fun of it…you’re a child…this is beyond pathetic…what are you, eleven? … this will be the kiss of death to your writing life….’  Y’know, that really helpful internal looping/mental torture that we are capable of inflicting on ourselves…

I would NEVER talk to another person like that….but I can squash myself into the ground without a second thought.

There is no middle-ground with this project….no days of ‘It’s fine, I’m not totally sure but I’ll keep on trucking…see what happens….’ It’s either HELL YES! or omigod-no-never-what-was-i-thinking-i’m-going-to-go-and-live-in-a-cave-and-learn-to-live-without-people-and-derive-nutrition-by-sucking-rocks….

Here is what I have so far:

20+ years of my journals

Four long essays to sit alongside the journal pages, about keeping a journal, life, creativity and self-care practices…

A scanner (I have scanned about 1/20th of what I need to scan – it’s a huge job…)


All that is stopping this book happen now is me and my own ‘stuff’. 

I SO need to get out of my own way…..which is easier said than done.

I don’t have a publisher (I haven’t looked for one). I am thinking I would probably self-publish this, using some kind of crowd-sourcing thing whereby people basically pay for the book up-front, before it has gone to production.

So yeah, ….your thoughts, advice, courage, opinions, boots-up-bum, prayers, links, love, advice, frank and open discussion are all very welcome right now.

Can someone please give me a shove?



10 thoughts on “help me find things

  1. Well. I would certainly like to read it. It sounds like a really interesting and beautiful book!

    The only advice I can give – and it’s something I do all the time – is to work from your internal values (e.g. make decisions so they fulfill internal rather than external results). Choose how you want to be in the world (and from reading your blog I predict that will be in the most genuine way possible). Fear not living genuinely! Then even if you publish the book and people don’t like it (unlikely) you will feel proud of yourself. If you make choices that aren’t genuine for you, and even if the result is society’s definition of “success” (e.g. public adoration and many sales), I doubt you will feel good.

    I made a list of my values at one point although I have no idea what happened to it. They’ve been pretty internalised though – being genuine, kind, compassionate, brave, honest, dedicated, risk-taking. Maybe writing a list of your own will help. Then when you come to make decisions (like should I self-publish this book about journally) you can ask yourself, “Does it support my internal values?” “Will this help me be the person I want to be?”

    Hope that helps in some small way! x


  2. Please consider this a shove. Please remember you are not a bug to be trampled on, and that you are really not even likely to trample on a bug! I made you our artist of the week at Wolfies on Facebook and linked to your blog because I believe in you and love what you do and find your art/writing and the mix of the two such a breath of fresh air. You remind me of a cross between Freda Kahlo and the young girl who wrote Broken Open…the latter actually sharing the kind of angst you write about in this post. Kick the fears to the curb clever clogs and do your thing.


  3. Like many of the people know, I like reading books about journalling, and seeing other people’s journal pages. Usually the prettiest books have the most banal commentary but I’m betting yours will be both visually delightful and intellectually satisfying. I have been looking forward to this book since I first heard you mention in some year(s?) ago. Scanning is a bore but if that’s the main thing left to do… get off your arse girl and do it (or barter for someone else to do it)! It’s the kind of activity very compatible with listening to audio books, which I adore doing.
    I would also financially support your crowd funding- I’m more likely to do that than buy it in a bookshop to tell the truth, since I more of a library user than a book buyer. But I was just thinking last night how much of a kick I get out of contributing to crowd funding projects I care about, and Helen, I care about yours.
    PS Did you get my letter?


  4. Having read this and then considered it in the shower … You love this project and the opposite if that (mentioned here) isn’t indifference, it’s fear. So get out of your head, stop overthinking and get onto it. It’ll be great and I know there’s so many people wanting this kind of book in their life – a creative journal that’s not vapid. Remember Tim Gunn and “make it work Helen.”


  5. Consider this a huge PUSH!! from me to DO IT!!!!!!! I think it would be worth looking at printers in China so you can have a nice, colour, yummy looking edition so get some quotes. I can ask Fergus for recommended printers if you like? This will only add to your writing life. xoxox


  6. It sounds like a fantastic project – I love getting a peek into other people’s sketchbooks and journals, they are such a valuable part of the creative process. I’d totally buy a copy, go for it!!


  7. how wonderful!
    no advice! just a thanks again for putting into words all my own mental noise! lol- i feel all this too- its so hard isnt it? all that and having to get dinner on too…
    sigh- i will read that book for sure!!! i love it already- you are doing great work Helen.


  8. Go Helen! Push push, shove shove. Can’t wait to read the book and it deserves to find a real publisher (hello chronicle books? Who is Kerri smith published by?) Scanning is a drag- I am scanning my km journals right now and I’ve already exhausted my podcasts. Maybe you can watch tv on demand at the same time? Or pay willo 25 cents a page 😉


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