I’ve never thought of myself as a person who could create worthwhile visual art. Sure, I would have admitted that, given some training, I could probably produce something that wasn’t disastrous. But I didn’t really believe it and it’s not like it bothered me so I never took any steps to become a better artist, or become a visual artist at all (beyond photography).

But I think we all know that I’m a fan of Neil Gaiman and this week he inspired me to create art. He’s doing a thing with Blackberry, a calender thing, and here is how it’s working.

A few weeks ago he took to twitter to get inspiration by asking questions. He then chose an answer for each month and used that as a basis/starting point/inspiration for a short story. Now, the world at large is being asked to participate again, this time in the form of contributing an art piece inspired by one of his short stories.

For example, the question for October was: “What mythical creature would you most want to meet in October? (& why?)”  and the answer he chose to inspire his story was: “A djinn. Not to make a wish. But for the very best advice on how to be happy w/ what you already have.” (@elainelowe). You can read all the stories here.

And I made this,


Her face is based loosely on Rihanna and I sketched from a bunch of different pictures (thank you google images). The lamp was basically out of my head and, if I’m honest, I don’t like it as much as the woman’s face.

But I made it, it’s mine. And it turns out that art is fun, totally unlike the stressful panic I remember from art classes at school. Then I thought, people are always colouring pencil sketches in using their computers, maybe I could do that. So I did. This was a little more stressful (mostly just the step of transferring the sketch to a black-transparent layer) and I think I still like the pencil sketch better but it was also SO MUCH FUN. Who knew?



Art submissions for the calender are open til March 4th and, even if you’re not interested in that, I highly recommend checking out the stories.


on advice…

Our teachers always used to worry that we would believe everything we read on the internet. They spent hours drumming in the fact that Wikipedia was not a real source. But they needn’t have spent so much time on it I think. My generation knows better than anyone how easy it is to put trash up online. We know intuitively what sort of websites we need to check, and how many, before we believe something.

As for writing advice, well, the internet is full of it. There are pages and pages telling you how to write, what to write, how to edit, how to get published and so on. It goes on forever but it’s mostly trash. The authors of the webpages have (mostly) never published a book themselves and there’s a lot of bitterness. There’s also a plethora of instructions to contradict those found on publishing company websites. The bitterness is indicative that getting a novel published is hard work. The contradictions are a warning that the author is out of touch with the present circumstances. In any case, I do not wish to go there to learn how to write.

Before beginning my second draft I decided to find at least one piece of reputable advice. I chose Neil Gaiman because I like his books and he seems adept at using the internet… Without further ado: the most trustworthy piece of second draft advice I found in about 10 minutes of searching.