{a little different november}

Happy November!

I'm going to be doing things a little differently for the duration of this month, as my creative time is being taken over by my novel for National Novel Writing Month (or, more affectionately, NaNoWriMo). The goal of this insane endeavor is to write a 50,000 word novel in one month. Which means I need to write 1,667 words a DAY in order to make this goal. And you bet your ass this blog entry totally counts towards that goal.

I've decided to write on creativity, faith, and art journaling, three things that are very important and special in my life and the work I hope to continue to spread until the end of my days. It's ambitious, because I really don't know if I have 50k words worth of it to say. But, as I've been blogging about journaling for about four years now, I'm sure I'll figure something out.

Anyway, getting to the point. Since I'll be writing until my fingers fall off, I grab them, reattach the dead digits, and keep typing, I won't have all that time to come up with the original content I usually have in store for you. So Novemeber will be a mish-mash of excepts and journal pages posted on their own. I hope these glimpses into the inner workings of my mind (scary!) and ideas on journaling in a more fluid, non-blog-entry form will give you the same pause as normal entries.

Things will get back to normal (whatever THAT means!) December first. Or whenever I wake up from my coma after a month of sleep deprivation.

Click on Read More if you'd like to see a bit of yesterday's inaugural writing, where I stumble around, find my footing, and talk about myself way too much.

*ps. if you're interested in reading the daily posts, comment or email me for access. i just don't want it out there floating as i'm actually working on a real book and using this to mine for ideas. requirement for access: sadistic task master ready to keep me on task.


I was committed to learning to draw. To journal.

“What are we looking for, now?” my friend would ask, weaving through the tall, aging stack of Chicago's Harold Washington library. I'd been alternating between hard to find journaling books and other, more nerdy pursuits, and seemed to be searching for something new every other day.

Noel and I have been friends since first period English in high school, when we realized we had a mutual love for writing fanfiction. And the summer between sophomore and junior year was spent in her unusually large bedroom laying on the air mattress that had become my second bed giggling over story ideas and episodes of The West Wing. Writing is simply what we did. What we'd always done.

For me, it was the novel Dune. Captivated by the fluid, detailed, vivid writing and the complexity of the world Hubert created, I felt a stirring deep inside of me. At twelve, I knew I was destined to write. I didn't know what – I've gone through several phases/genres in my life – but I knew words were my future.
And in high school, my friends drew, not me. Every time I drew, it didn't come out “right.” Eyes took me months. Bodies were beyond me. Hair confounded me. Once and awhile, I'd get the urge to draw, but since I couldn't do anything well, or even half-well, or quasi-well, I easily gave up. Drawing was for other people, not me. And by my senior year, I simply accepted that I wasn't “artistic.” I could write, and that was it. Was my gift.

Two years into college, I didn't even think about it anymore.

And then I found the website, and the books.

I remember the first drawing I ever did, the first time I put pen to paper with the intention of creating an illustrated journal. Or whatever you choose to call it. Visual, illustrated, art – they all fundamentally mean the same thing. I think I'll use art because it's a larger, general term that takes in all these magical books have to offer.

It was around this same time of the year, maybe a little later. Snow flurries had begun to fall earlier in the day, and I'd set out wrapped in a scarf and gloves with the intent of sitting in the cafe DuPaul University had in their very own Barnes & Noble. Local businesses in my little gentrifying neighborhood hadn't exactly caught up, and venturing farther towards downtown was needed to find a cafe with a decent chai.

I sat along the wall, facing the street. On the corner of Adams and State stands a beautiful building housing a Walgreens with a 1920's clock above the door, the metal a patina green. It has always caught my eye and imagination, throwing me back to when my grandmother lived in this same city in the 1920's and 30's, when streetcars ran where cars are now jammed bumper to bumper.

With my blue pen, I drew the clock. And some snowflakes, because by the time I finished, the flurries had turned to thicker snow, telling me it was time to go.

Almost six years later, I can remember every detail of that day, of how chilly it was sitting next to the huge windows, the bag I was carrying, the weather outside. How the sun was setting in the early afternoon. All these years later I am instantly there because I took the time to slow down and see the world as it is, if only for a few minutes.