Proposals and Evenings with Authors


It’s been quite a week— these last few days have been busy with some new potential projects and evenings capped off by listening to some incredible writers. At last count, there were at least five project proposals in the hopper, and I was lucky enough to hear authors Min Jin Lee and Neil Gaiman speak and read from their work.

I tend to romanticize the art of writing. I usually imagine Hemingway in Paris— waking and writing from an old drafty apartment. He labors over a manuscript, and the room warms up as he types away on his Royal Quiet de Luxe stationed next to a crackling fireplace. He steps away after writing something utterly profound, and goes for a walk, an espresso, or maybe brunch with his buddy, F. Scott.

These days, I’m interested by writers’ thoughts on the art of writing. The observations of Anne Lamott comes to mind— her book on writing, Bird by Bird, is a favorite of mine. I wish designers explored/reflected on their processes as well as writers do. Perhaps writing about writing as a writer is more natural than a designer writing about design.

But I do enjoy the act of writing. I don’t think I’m particularly good at it, but it’s something I want to become good at. (That’s why I’m here.) Blogging is enjoyable, but unfortunately there’s no attached paycheck to take home. Project proposals do the trick— or rather, that’s the goal. 

So in this last week, I’ve had a change of mindset on my process of drafting project proposals. What if I found a way to make them just as fun to write and read as writing a blog? I can’t say I’ve mastered this shift in methodology, but this new question does challenge me to try a new approach, especially if a particular method for a proposal doesn’t end up being successful. (On a similar theme, it was encouraging to hear Min Jin Lee talk about all of her rejected proposals even as a successful author.) 

So keep writing. “Ass in the chair,” as Mary Heaton Vorse put it.

Enjoy the links, 


Neil Gaiman on why the future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming – I haven’t read any of Gaiman’s works, but I attended his lecture anyhow— and I’m glad I did. He read the above essay to the crowd, and it’s a powerful one. I wasn’t much of a reader until I decided to become a designer. At that point my grandfather (also a designer) said: “If you want to become a designer you need to learn how to read.” I asked if he meant photoshop books. He said, “No, whatever you can get your hands on.” That was definitely a turning point. Reading has changed my life. After years of mostly reading non-fiction, I’m finally diving into novels. My life is changed once again for the better. 

From the Hive, Episode 17: Leslie Hershberger - Intention, Pause & We-ness – This From the Hive interview with Leslie Hershberger is one of my favorites yet. It’s especially helpful to connect meditation practices to every compartment of one’s life. Meg and I are taking an enneagram class with Leslie at The Hive that started this week.

Taking the Empire Builder train across America – Meg and I are taking a train to Seattle at the end of June. This article whets my appetite for the slow adventure ahead of us. This quote from the article has stuck with me: “There is a mindset adjustment required to unlock the willingness to enjoy the journey rather than project forward to the destination. But once that switch is flicked, ridin’ those rails is a lot of fun.”

Social Innovation, Social Justice: Rethinking Design Anthropology – One of the perks of being an adjunct professor is being surrounded by about all the inspiring events happening at the university— like this one coming up at the end of the month. I’m particularly excited about the improv and service design workshops. 

Brain Rules Part 1 and Part 2 with Dr. John Medina on the Buyer’s Mind podcast – Here’s Dr. John Medina on the science behind the brain’s functions and why’s it’s helpful in our interactions with others and yourself.

Kudos to Pat for introducing me to John Medina and Christopher Maier for copy edits.