Even on the left, odd on the right. Always.
That's how it is. Every trade and every profession has them ... rules and governing principles that can't (or shouldn't) be ignored.
I purchased and have nearly filled a 200-page blank notebook. It's a decent quality, hardcover book, red, with a ribbon bound into the spine so I can mark my place.
When it was nearly full I went looking for another.
The same company that made the red book offers other styles, so I selected a different one. A black one. Cloth-covered with three ribbons(!) to mark important sections.
But there's a problem.
The page numbers are on the wrong side. The pagination in the red book is correct so it never occurred to me to check the pages in the black book.
They're all wrong. The odd numbered pages are on the left and the even are on the right.
In book design, like most professions, there are rules you can bend ... or break. And some you can't.
In book design even numbered pages go on the left, odd numbered go on the right. Always.
I can't use it.
I'll cut the pages out of the book and repurpose them. Yes, it's that egregious.
It's one of the reasons I'm releasing a new workbook: How to Write and Self-Publish a Book Worth Reading.
It's a step-by-step guide to writing and creating a book you'll be proud to share. One with even numbered pages on the left, odd on the right.
A workbook that takes you through the steps of writing a book ... including best practices for writing and rewriting. A bit about the difference between editing and proofreading, why you need an ISBN, where to get one ... and a few lines about signing your book once it's published because, yes, there's something to know about that.
That's my book ... and it's a reminder why we need your book.
You have experience, stories, and insights that come from doing what you do best.
Knowledge and insights people need.
Because whatever the equivalent is in your world, you know ... it's even on the left, odd on the right.
We never had a dog when I was growing up.
There were a few cats, a snake even, but never a dog.
I can't even recall knowing any one dog all that well, but there came a day when I wanted one.
So I went looking for one, talked about about getting one, did my research on bringing a dog home, and finally got one. A basset hound.
Why a basset hound? I think it was the ears. They have big, beautiful ears. Velvety ears. And they are solid dogs, well-tempered, and laid-back.
Unfortunately, they're not great about walking in a straight line, moving along from here to there ... at least not Agatha. Nope, she'd walk a few paces and stop. Sniff, move on, and stop again.
After reading the most popular and recommended books about having a dog, I understood the importance of daily exercise, and made sure we went out. Every day. We went in the woods and around the neighborhood, but it was always the same ... a herky-jerky trek from here to there.
Now, granted, I wanted a dog that was easy-going, but when it was time to get her out for some exercise, it became an exercise in frustration. For me and the dog.
The frustration, I realized, came from expecting Agatha to power walk, get moving, and do what I wanted her to do ... to go against her nature. Bassets are after all, scent hounds. Sniffing is what they do. Once I figured that out, I enjoyed out time outside.
What I learned
I learned to take myself for a walk first ... alone. And to accept what Agatha was teaching me ... to slow down and notice things.
In the coming weeks I'll be releasing a new picture book, Things I Notice When I Walk The Dog.
It's a picture book memoir. Agatha's legacy ... and part of mine.
Think memoir's not for you?
If you think memoir is not for you, think again. People love stories and you've go some good ones.
Stories you can share in a collection or how-to book.
Remember, memoir is not an account of your entire life. It's the account of an experience or event where some kind of understanding, lesson, or insight occurred.
How did you get started doing what you do? What does someone entering the field you're in need to know? What do you wish you knew? Share it and help someone in the same position.
Have you completed a self-initiated challenge where you learned something you didn't expect?
What do you do in your spare time? Are you a master chef, a marathon runner, or member of a band? What's that like? We want to know.
Once you get started, you'll be surprised at what you can share.
Writing about you experiences can feel self-indulgent or out of reach in the beginning, but you tell stories all the time. The challenge is putting them down on paper.
Want to ease into writing? Start writing ... in letters or a journal.
This Hello Dahlia! stationery journal allows you to print the pages you want, as many as you want. Use them to write your story, a letter, or roll it into your typewriter.
Getting started is the best, only way to begin.
My picture book memoir
It's taken years to get to this point. And that may be the best thing that could have happened. I fretted over it, stopped, started, and put it aside so many times.
It just wasn't right. Wasn't ready.
But that changed. I think in part because of the pandemic. We're walking more than ever. Seeing and noticing more than ever.
The book is a short-story memoir of walking the dog and the simple act of slowing down, of noticing what's over there, around the corner, and up the street.
A reminder that being in the moment, especially when we're outside, is the best place to be.
I'll let you know when the book is ready to launch. In the meantime, take a walk (whether you have a dog or not) ... and let me know what you notice.
Is it worth it?
Have you ever gotten to the point where you're nearly finished with something, almost done, and you get an idea to change or improve that thing?
But it means more work. Maybe a delay.
That's what happened to me with my nearly finished book, Things I Notice When I Walk The Dog. A short-story memoir of walking my dog Agatha. The collage work is done, the text is complete, and I've got it set-up in page spreads in book form.
And then ...
I wondered if it wouldn't be better if I hand-lettered the text. Mind you it's a picture book so it's not terribly long, not a novel ... but still.
So I tested the idea and did some hand-lettering on the text, and guess what?
There's no way I can go back. I have to letter the entire text.
So what's the big deal?
Each sentence takes about half an hour to write. And that's only if I don't make any mistakes, or decide I don't like the look of that letter ... or this one ... or the entire sentence.
Or, if like in the example above, I'm so caught up in what I'm writing, I drop a letter like I did with the "l" in sidewalk.
And then there's the whole idea of perfection. Because even though I like the feel of the hand-lettering, it's not perfect and that generates a bit of anxiety for me.
Is it good enough?
Yes it is. The whole point of hand-lettering the text is that it's not perfect, that it adds a level of imperfection that's more inviting.
At least that's what I'm hoping people will see and feel.
What do you think?
Today is Extra Mile Day and it occurred to me that's what I'm doing with the book. Even thought it's my choice, it means I've added another level of work to the project. But I'm committed.
I'm going the extra mile.
Sometimes it's a good idea, other times not so much. Is there something you're doing or thinking about that means going the extra mile?
A Memoir in Letters
It started with a simple request by mail. Helene Hanff of New York City writes to Marks & Co. in London requesting a book and Frank Doel writes back. It was the beginning of a correspondence that would last 20 years.
Though the letters were never written to be used as memoir, it's a fine example of how letter writing can, and often does, serve as memoir.
Through a shared love of books, the letters reveal quirky personalities, the hardship of war, and the transformative power of friendship. Hanff's humorous, brusque style and bookseller Frank Doel's polite manner combine to make this a thoroughly charming book ... and quick read.
If you're interested in writing letters but need some encouragement and guidance, check out A Snail Mail Guide to Cursive Writing Practice. I wrote the book after hearing so many people shy away from writing because they were worried about their handwriting, didn't know what to write about, and often, not even sure who to write to.
What if I told you to think about letter writing as a conversation. Imagine you're sitting across the kitchen table from the person you're writing to. What would you say? Write that.
That may sound too simple, but really, that's it.
Inside the book you'll find ideas for who to write to and what to write about, along with a primer on learning or improving your cursive handwriting. Because be it loopy and large or compact and not so large, your handwriting is what people so enjoy seeing. Really.
And if you 're still not convinced, request a real postcard welcome. I'll write to you and you'll see, getting mail feels good.
Wow, I'm so proud to be able to say my book, A Snail Mail Guide to Cursive Writing Practice, is done. What a great feeling.
It's part memoir, part how-to, and loaded with tips for improving your handwriting and spending more time with the people you love and like best by writing to them.
The idea for the book came about from seeing articles about the demise of cursive writing. Some say it doesn't matter now that we have computers and ask, "What's the point?"
Well, a new study from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology reveals how writing by hand can make kids smarter.
And in The New York Times article, "Snail Mail is Getting People Through This Time," Tove Danovich writes about creating meaningful connections through letter writing during the pandemic.
A Snail Mail Guide to Cursive Writing Practice combines the benefits of letter writing with the benefits of writing by hand in an uplifting, informative, and beautifully illustrated book. The book showcases the elements of a letter, cursive writing instruction for each letter of the alphabet, and the inspirational I Write Letters to Say series.
Do you know a teacher or students who would benefit from the book? Tell them about A Snail Mail guide to Cursive Writing Practice.
The Story Line blog is where we share short story memoirs, writing tips, and more.