Monday, November 30, 2009

Matthew's video for Steve Martin

Here's an evening treat to keep you all happy.

By the way: I wrote almost two thousand words of novel tonight without any dithering, and really enjoyed it. That's the same scene I was completely stuck on end of last month. - I might not have won NaNoWRiMo yet again, but goes to show how it helped to train myself up to write a chunk every day and worry about it later. Especially if I write another scene tomorrow!

What a lot of words I put there.

I've just started to work on my proper novel again, and at first I couldn't believe all those detailed notes waiting to be turned into chapters, things I'd made up months ago and forgotten since. I re-read the last few chapters I actually wrote, was completely baffled - not because I didn't understand them but because I didn't remember them - and started writing. Best not to wait until you feel ready, sometimes.
This is what I wrote:

Pebble listened, and she learned. Though it never felt like she was learning much, she was becoming familiar with the place in her head where new things went, and there was enough empty space left to echo when she dreamt.

It doesn't say much, but it seemed a good place to re-start.
And now I must go and buy some food, and think, and tomorrow I shall go to the studio and do some Serious Drawing that Needs Doing.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Top Tip

Unsurprisingly, I am tired.
I just thought I'd let you know that I've discovered a really nifty way of aging cheap leather: rubbing it with top quality Worcestershire sauce. My shoes look really kind of expensive now. I won't be held responsible for any damage caused by trying this though. Or smells.

Party report

Put hairs on rollers, glued on fake lashes, made myself look generally fabulous.
Went out of the house. It started raining. Waited for the bus for a long time. Hair went back to natural frizzy curls. Eyes started to feel a bit gluey. On the bus noticed a strong smell of worcestershire sauce. Also noticed brown puddle around my bag. Bloody Mary ingredients were leaking. Checked bag, found that my right party shoe was fine, but the left one marinated. Got distracted by this until my bus stop was announced suddenly. Jumped off bus, found it was a lie, I was nowhere near my destination. Got rained on some more. Consulted map. Map had run to blurriness in the rain. Considered going back home. Tried to work out where I was with runny map and no glasses. Phoned for help and was rescued. Arrived at party, checked eyelashes. Right one was fine, left one drooped off as I was watching in the mirror. Was left with runny make-up and frizzy hair, looking generally more deranged than glam.
Put shoes in the bath tub, mixed a Bloody Mary, sat around for a while wondering what went wrong where.

Then had a nice evening.

Tomorrow shall rub right party shoe with worcestershire sauce to make them match again.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Fake lashes

Today I'm trying to learn how to apply 60s make-up for a party in the evening. I've kind of managed to glue on fake eye lashes, took me half an hour. I know I'll dream of millipedes tonight.
Then I had to peel them back off because they don't fit behind my glasses, and I've still got some other plans for the day involving vision. Hopefully by tonight the new skill will have settled and I'll manage to glue them back on faster. Glad I didn't decide to back-comb my hair as well. Or curl it. Hm. I could, I guess. Hm. Should I go get some hair curlers? Hm. Hmmmm...

Uh, it's cold. I'll light some candles to feel warmer, and then do some digital colouring work. The new books is looking much nicer all of a sudden, more blue, less brown, mostly.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Various days behind and ahead

Today I am pondering dull things. Like: Why do they sell 8GB USB sticks that are actually only size 7 and a half? Why do I collapse the internet every time I try to set up a network printer anywhere? And why do I never write down when I move house, on one special sheet of paper to keep with my passport maybe, so that when official bodies ask about it I have a vague idea of where I've been all my life? All the while my new netbook is making scary bleeping noises while I'm setting it up. It's a day of dates and numbers.

Yesterday, in contrast, I was striding through the city buying fabulous clothes and animal-cruelty-free cosmetics and eating cake and pizza with my friend, and we talked about how everything seems strangely possible at the moment.

Tomorrow shall be a day of colours and measurements when I go to visit the publisher's so we can make all my hamster artworks the right format...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tweet Tuner

Here's a Twitter app someone should make.
One thing that I find difficult about Twitter is that it works on the principle that if getting tweets is good, getting more tweets is better. There are endless ways of following even more people - positive lists of people who are interesting to you for one reason or another. Public lists and private ones, but all positive.
Now be honest. Is that how you actually really live your social life? Maybe it is. Not if you are like me. I don't just want lists of "bestest friends" and "especially interesting people". I want negative lists - lists of people I want to sometimes not hear from. And that's not an evil nasty unsociable thing, it's just... normal.
Think about the guy who makes you laugh every day with his tweets except once a month at full moon when you want him to SHUT UP. Or the girl who really inspires you by tweeting about her interesting projects, but the day you feel really low and useless you just don't want to hear. Or that person who is really interesting - when they are not at a festival. Or your ex who is your best friend - most of the time. Or your best friend the rest of the time who Tweets About Everything She Eats while you are HUNGRY.
You can unfollow them and re-follow them - they'll wonder why. You can build elaborate lists with everyone BUT them on and call them things like "PMS list number three".

Why can't I have an application that allows me to privately secretly tag people in any way I like, they'll never know, and then just switch whole crowds of them off for the day, and then back on the next, no questions asked?

Here's a quick sketch. The switches can be customised with whatever tags you fancy. The big dial is a quick way of going through settings, so you can quickly crank it to whatever suits your mood - from full blast through a whole rainbow of moods - your moods that is.
Oh yeah, because I bet you want positive lists as well, friends and crafters and whatever rocks your boat, I slapped a dial on the right hand side for that. But the tuning-out switches still override whatever is on those lists.

Now go make that, that would really amuse me. - Hepp!


I'm throwing things out - bags of charity stuff, books I don't think I'll read again any time soon, cardboard boxes... I also finally deleted my twitter account, which I'd been meaning to do before - it's very friendly and useful but I decided I need to streamline my communication channels somewhat so I can actually get some novel-writing done.

My mum is going to knit me a dress or a jumper, which is wonderful... that'll mean I can throw out some of my more ragged and baggy old tops. - This winter is looking good!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Hamsters and Mirrors

It's a work-day, definitely, despite having started with reading half a science fiction novel in bed while waking myself up slowly with tea. - I shall be colouring in some Hamsters, and also I shall be attempting to create sky backdrops for a project - I have photographs of lovely cloud-formations over Peckham Rye to work with, and so far I've made some good night and daytime skies, but I've failed to make sunset and sunrise skies that don't look like Armageddon. - I kind of want a thrilling Hitchcock technicolor cyclorama feel while still keeping it as a duotone or tritone. Maybe that's asking a bit much, especially seeing that one of the things about dusk&dawn is that there are quite a LOT of colours in the sky instead of, say, three. But at the moment it's still a fun challenge.

The hamsters are looking good already, and I've coloured almost all of them in by now.

Otherwise... I own a mirror AT LAST, a proper one that's slightly taller than myself, which means that after years of checking what I look like by visiting a series of small mirrors situated in dark corners of the flat at different heights and compositing the reflections in my mind as best I could I can just stand there and see myself. The first thing I realised was that my legs aren't at all as stumpy as I thought. They always looked stumpy when I was looking down at them. My friend Kris said: Well of course they did. It's called foreshortening. - Then she said: That mirror is slimming.
So anyway, my everyday clothes are much nicer than I thought (hurrah!!) and now I can even coordinate them and make sure my hair doesn't stick up and my skirts aren't tucked into my pants before I go out, and that I didn't forget to put make-up on the left side of my face when the phone rang. I can decide what I want to look like and then make it happen. - It's so, so, so much more brilliant and life enhancing than you can probably imagine. YAY! I shall try on all my clothes and throw out all the ones that make me look like someone else, and then maybe make some new ones...

But first, I shall tint some skies.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Electric Visitors and a restful Wednesday

Aaah. Wednesday. Who would have thunk they could be so relaxing, Wednesdays.

I've decided to have a slow day today.
I switched my desktop background from swirling engraved lizards to a snowy photo I got in the mail from Oslo, which helps.
I wish I'd taken the Hatifatteners home that lovely Lauren seeded on my desk (next to my slightly scary sign of "Ordnung is das halbe Leben", which is very apt if you've read the Moomins). I famously deal swift justice to people who leave things on my desk but can't argue with Hatifatteners. They are electric.

Otherwise... like last year, I've given up on hitting the NaNoWriMo word count, my arms hurt and there's other books to make. I'll probably just add small bits for the rest of the month. I'm feeling really inspired to get working on my picture books again - I did need a break from them, but now I'm feeling really grateful to get back to work.

Good luck to everyone else who's still NaNoveling!

Sunday, November 15, 2009



Okay, I have a cold now. It's not too bad, I'm sneezing my way through rolls of paper and my voice sounds funny.
My flatmate is packing for his drawing trip to the Galapagos, he's been training for weeks now, working out his perfect utility belt and action-man drawing vest filled with materials, designing a drawing paper carrier bag stapling a ribbon to his hat so it won't blow into the sea. He's looking rather awe-inspiring by now. In five weeks' time he'll return with studies of giant tortoises and blue-footed boobies and I hope I won't have withered away with loneliness in the meantime. There's such an air of going-awayness in the house that I can't quite believe that I'm staying here...

So I'll be using the studio more again - I'm already making plans what to put on my shelves at last. So far I've been using the place for art material storage mostly which I've been busy writing at home. Now I need to get going on some comic characters, and maybe a new promo section for my website with papercraft cats...

Ah, and also: my new favourite marker pen. I just like the name.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Marvellous Dress Finished!

I finished the dress last night just before midnight while watching some classic Star Trek to keep me going. By the end I couldn't make sense of any of the dialogue any more... I felt a cold coming on and wanted to get it done before that arrived... and I managed! Ha haa!

marvellous dress

Here's the front - I decided on a different part of pattern because the guys lean towards the middle so nicely there...

marvellous dress

...and the Silver Surfer still gets pride of place. Also my friend suggested the Hulking Butt. And the Green Goblin just obliged all by himself there, with his evil eye exactly where the button will go (so far it's still a badge holding it up).
I still need to adjust one shoulder a tiny bit but otherwise... DONE!

Am very proud, that was my first venture using a bought pattern instead of copying another dress.

P.S. yes the pattern pretty much matches up at the seams, would you believe it.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Marvellous Dressmaking - planning stage

So today I'll finally make my New Marvellous Dress out of a comic-patterned duvet cover from Argos.
My flatmate's mum has a brilliant collection of vintage dress patterns, and I picked one that looks suitably respectable from the front (my Moomin dress is sometimes just a bit too girly) but interesting from the back... it's held up at the neck by one big button. I haven't worked out what sort of button to use, I'd like something that goes with the theme, maybe a badge...

pattern plans

Yesterday I made a very rough test dress from an old pink sheet. It's got most of the seams on the outside, and I scrawled notes on it, tore it up, stitched it back togetehr with extra bits... it looks almost conceptual by now.
Lacking a mirror I used my webcam to check the fit. I think it'll work (I have to place the darts more carefully when I do it for real).
test dress
Then I drew a panel grid over it with a fat crayon (I didn't bother to take the dress off, which was fun but I hope I didn't mis-measure that way). And here's the pattern overlayed, using the crayon lines as a guide.
testing the pattern
A bit more Green Goblin than I'd like (I know my mum would say: why did you put that horrible witch in the corner??) but I really want to have the Silver Surfer and the Thing in the middle. I guess I could re-arrange the panels but I don't want a seam right across my chest, really. - I'll make up for it by putting Captain America and Wolverine on the back. And I think I might not have the vertical darts and sacrifice some subtle shaping for not making the Silver Surfer frown even more.

Monday, November 9, 2009


Hello world!

I just went grocery shopping, meaning to get some emergency pasta mostly, but suddenly somewhere around the cheese aisle a brilliant bit of news a friend had told me earlier sank in and I bought artichokes, expensive juice, salad ingredients and two sorts of ice cream, and I started humming a song to myself. By the time I was halfway home I had the words to it, and now I am writing it down, it has to become part of the NaNovel to make up the word count, but it fits in nicely. - There's been such a lot of fuss in the last few months, and I'd been building up some sort of emotional carapace to let at least some of it bounce off, but now I feel like I can crack it open, put it in the corner like a Viv-shaped iron maiden and take a deep breath of November air. I think I shall buy pizza for the whole household tonight and celebrate.

And: when I opened the fridge to put away the groceries I could smell some butter. I've not smelled butter since May! I think my sense of smell really is coming back, by and by.

Anyway, I must write a whole lot of words, several thousands, I'm still behind on this project and I seriously have other work to do. There's a whole book to be coloured in, adn tomorrow I'll ink in the text changes in the "There are Cats in This Book" sequel.
But: it definitely is a very useful thing to do, and I'm noticing that making myself write thousands of words every day is doing something very useful to my brain, it's like I am learning to switch into "output" mode much more quickly, and stay there for longer. And I am enjoying some of what I'm writing, and also the memories it's bringing up...

And, before I forget, "There are Cats in this Book" has been nominated for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal. That's also very nice. Shortlist will be announced in January I believe, hepp - ho!

Sunday, November 8, 2009


I'm back from Cornwall. I'll show and tell you some pictures when I've got time.
Right now, I can tell you that I am several thousand words behind on my NaNovel and so I get to use the Emergency Coffee Mug.
Emergency Mug
I really have NO idea what I'm going to write today, only that it better be about 3500 words on the spot. Most of my NaNoWriMo writing sessions have been like this, and most of it was awful stuff but every so often there were things I know I'd never have thought of otherwise, so...

Monday, November 2, 2009


NaNovel is being written.
Lectures are set to go.
Workshop is planned.
Now I just need to clear out my room so new windows can be fixed while I'm out.
And all that without coffee. Actually I'm getting three times as much done without coffee, so far, but heck do I feel frazzled.

Off to grey windy Cornwall tomorrow... I'll send messages whenever I can get a signal.

In the meantime... here are a couple of lovely free/cheap games you can grab from the internet:

Machinarium, which is a point and click adventure featuring cute robots in a sprawling city. The art and animation is impressive and endearing, the puzzles are just on the right side of infuriating and the soundscape is funny and athmospheric.

Windosill, which is a beautiful surreal game. I still can't believe how well it is made, actually.

Neither of them requires you to be able to read English, so: nice treat for the kids. (I haven't played Machinarium all the way through yet so I can't promise it's completely child-safe, but something tells me it's very probably okay). You can try them out before you buy. Have a go! I hope there will be a lot more like this going on soon, I've missed these little adventures ever since Monkey Island 2...