Category Archives: I draw to keep my hands from destroying me

Get thee to an independent bookstore.

Y’all, this Saturday is Independent Bookstore Day and to celebrate, participating indie bookstores have a bunch of cool stuff, and some are offering a thick, lovely poster of an exclusive drawing of mine.  It isn’t in YOU ARE HERE and the numbers are very limited so this is the only way to get one.   Click here to find a bookstore in your area.  I’m not sure if I get paid for them but if I do I’ll use the proceeds to buy copies of YOU ARE HERE for people here who haven’t been able to afford one yet.  EVERYONE WINS.

This is the drawing in progress:

And the final result:

“I have lost myself and found myself in books.”

And they all came to my house where I signed them and all my pets tried to fuck everything up but they failed miserably.

“We’re totally not looking at those posters like we want to eat them if you walk away.” ~ Lying motherfuckers


And speaking of
YOU ARE HERE, I have suddenly developed an appreciation of coloring for relaxation and now Victor is like “Where are all these watercolor pencils, oil pastel pencils, and gel pens coming from?” and I’m like, “THEY’RE MEDICINAL, VICTOR.”

I’m sharing the ones I’ve done here but honestly some of you are putting me to shame and you should click here to see the stuff I’ve liked on twitter because there’s a shitload of awesomeness out there and now I want to learn to quill and embroider and paint and NOW I’M GOING TO HAVE TO OPEN A CRAFT STORE, Y’ALL.

“Home is where my head is.”

“Alone” is not the same as “lonely.”

“We all lose our heads eventually. Might as well get lost on an adventure or two first.”

“It’s a magic lamp. It’s a sorcerer’s hat. It’s a time machine and a song bird and a treasure chest. It’s a weapon and a weight. And also you can type with it.”

“Sometimes safe can be suffocating.”

“There is so much more going on under the surface. In the world. In me. In you.”

The one where I make it up to you and we get matching tattoos.

Hey.  I’m still sick but I’m like 23% less mostly dead than I was and that is a HUGE improvement.  And for sticking around I’m doing something (two things, technically) fun as a thank you.  You’re welcome.

First is something that my publisher is doing to say thanks….they’re giving away 25 Jenny Lawson In A Box prizes.  I’m not actually in the box (which is good because I am way more trouble than you would expect) but the box will include a copy of my new book YOU ARE HERE, a copy of Furiously Happy, a YOU ARE HERE tote bag, tattoos, colored pencils and whatever else they have laying around the Flatiron building.  This stuff, basically:

Just click RIGHT HERE to enter and have a chance at winning one of the packages.  (No purchase necessary.  They don’t spam you or sell your info, fyi.)

And as a special thank you from me I’m going to give out a bunch of YOU ARE HERE temporary tattoos to a bunch of people who bought a copy of YOU ARE HERE for someone else, because I keep seeing people giving them to friends or family or leaving them in therapy waiting rooms like demented Gideon Bibles and that is so awesome I want to give you something in return, but first I’m going to sign the clear cover on the tats so that you can take it off and slip it into your book and it’s like I signed it.  Or put it on your chest and it’s like I signed that.  Or slide it onto your lease agreement and now we’re roommates.  The choices are endless.

I’m not describing this correctly because cold medicine exists but look at this video and you’ll understand.

I don't have a voice but here's what I'm giving away on my blog today. It'll make sense when you read it. Probably.

A post shared by Jenny Lawson (@thebloggess) on

If you want a chance to win the package go to my publisher’s page here.  If you want a chance to win the signed tattoos just leave a comment telling me if you bought the book as a gift for someone who needed it (it’s okay if the person who needed it was you) and I’ll choose a bunch of people at random to get signed tattoos.  (But you won’t get them until next week at least because I don’t want to send you my germs and end up being Typhoid Mary, part 2.)

PS. Speaking of cold medicine, if you’re not on twitter you missed this.

PPS. I have an app now to keep track of my meds so I don’t accidentally die.  No worries.  Unless my phone runs out of battery.  Then we’re all fucked.

PPPS. I’m too sick to spellcheck.  Forgive me.

How to color outside the lines.

Hi.  I’m terrified.

I’m always slightly terrified because my anxiety disorder is a real asshole but it suddenly occurred to me that my book tour starts in a few days and I’ll be on the road for two weeks and this is always such a mix of amazingness and dread and fear and exhilaration, and I know I’ll get through it but it doesn’t change the fact that I’m literally shaking with anxiety right now.  I don’t have a joke here.  Just being honest.

It’s ironic that so many people use coloring as a tool to fight anxiety and I’m touring with what is essentially a coloring book (with lots of words in it) but I don’t really color.  Drawing is what I do to keep my hands from destroying myself so I haven’t actually colored any of the drawings in my own book because to me it looks done already.  But people are starting to get their copies of YOU ARE HERE early and they’re sharing their work online and now I’m seeing such amazing images as my drawings are reimagined with color and now I get it.

I started coloring an image I made last year that didn’t make it into the book and I’m finally finishing it but I suspect I’m missing out on the right tools and techniques so I’m sharing what I do here so you can tell me what I’m doing wrong.

First off, here’s the drawing I made if you want to print and color it yourself.  Just click on it to embiggen.

bloggessdoodle

 

This is what it looked like halfway through.  Then I fucked it up and ran out of ink so I walked away for awhile.

coloring-is-hard

But then I realized that I could blend the colors I had left and make it all rainbowy and shit.  (“All rainbowy and shit” = technical artistic terminology.)  So I did.  And when I accidentally smudged stuff I just got out a marker and incorporated it into the drawing. And when I went outside the lines I just made it look like it was supposed to look like that.  And it worked.  Kind of.  From a distance.

Long story short, I get why people color now.  But I enjoy it much more after learning from my mistakes.  And after a booze slushie.  So if you are new to coloring I will give you my few hints:

  1. You don’t have to color it.  You can just leave it black and white.  DONE.  You are the fastest colorer ever.
  2. I used two different kinds of pencils.  I used Ohuhu pencils for the light colors because they’re inexpensive.  I used watercolor pencils to get the really vivid colors.  You can color and then use a damp brush to activate the colors but personally I just dip the pencil in water and color with the wet pencil because it gives me more control.
  3. I used gel pens to color over stuff I’ve messed up on because they work like paint.  Plus THEY HAVE GLITTER IN THEM.  I used these because they’re cheaper but these are really nice if you have extra cash to spend.
  4. When the cat would head-butt me with his face while I was drawing I’d use white gel pens to color over the mess.  It’s like white-out but in a pen.
  5. If you want to color but don’t really want to color then get a gold sharpie and just add some spot color where you want.  Classy, lazy and elegant all at the same time.

Your turn.  Share your hints or your drawings.  And use the #youarehere hashtag so I can find your pictures online when you get your copy of my book?

I’ll be in Austin on Wednesday and then on from there.  Click here for the tour info.  Come see me.  Pretty please?

I’m barely moving and that’s just fine.

I’m working through this depression and finding more and more days where I’m  feeling human.  (WHOOOT!)  Today is one of those days and it’s an incredible change from the one I had yesterday when Hailey came down for breakfast and was like, “Why are you laying on the kitchen floor?” and it seems pathetic to say I was too tired to sit on a chair, so instead I was like, “I’m doing the mannequin challenge” and Hailey was all, “I don’t think that’s how that works” but I was like, “Agree to disagree.  I’M NAILING IT.”

Whenever I have days where my mind and body shut down I draw.  Last week  when I shared a drawing I was working on (and the furry person keeping me from completing it)  people asked how I’d made such perfect circles and the truth is that I use whatever I have on hand to trace the shapes I need.

Last year when I was on book tour someone gave me a ring with “NEVER GIVE UP” engraved on it to remind me that I’d helped save them, and to remind me that I was needed even when broken.  A few days later someone in line told me they were struggling and I handed her the ring that had comforted me.  And the world goes round and round.  And then I  had Victor buy a dozen more and send them to me on tour and every day I’d wear one and if I thought someone needed a reminder I’d give my ring to someone who was struggling or who was celebrating surviving but scared of the future.  I’m still wearing my last one.  And it’s what I used to make a lot of those circles.

bloggessart

Fitting.

PS. I really am fantastic at the Mannequin Challenge.  I can literally do it in my sleep.  In fact, that’s where I do it best.

I’m still alive in here.

The last year has been hard for me.  I have glimmers of myself.  I have hours each day when I can smile.  Some days I come out of the fog and feel the terrific relief from coming out of the underwater of depression or whatever it is that haunts me.

I struggle through the day until sunshine comes back.  Sometimes I get my child off to school and then go back to bed until she comes home.  When my husband travels I feel relief that I can hide without shame, but the shame is still there.  But I know a part of me remains because I miss them when they’re gone, and if I can feel that then I know I’m still alive.

It seems strange.  How sometimes I can be normal and functional and my head and body will let me live like people are supposed to live, and then the next day I’ll plunge back into that halfway space where I’m asleep, either physically or emotionally.  I remind myself that depression lies…that I’ll come back again.  That the hollowness is temporary and could disappear any moment.  I kill the day with sleep.  I struggle to write, feeling such incredible relief on those days when my head works again and can put words together in a way that makes sense to anyone other than me.  I write small notes to myself for the book I’ll finish when the hungry ghost that lives inside me is full, or spent…whatever she needs to do to leave.

And when I can’t write my words on the paper I draw them by hand…symbols and images and strange things from dreams.  I draw and erase and draw and erase, and make and unmake myself.  I hunch over my sketch book and find myself leaving images to prove I was here…even when I’m scared that I’ve gone missing.

I’m still here, even when I’m not me.  I’m still me even when I come out of this spell.  I’m me.  And I am unpredictable even to myself.

I’m still alive in here.

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Let’s color together.

I’m always drawing to keep my anxiety at bay but I never color the pieces.  Just black and white and white and black, and while that’s all well and good I think it would be fun to actually add color to one of my drawings, but I don’t entirely know what I’m doing so what if we do this together?

Here’s a picture I just finished.  Print it out.  Post it on your wall.  Color it.  Smear it with water colors.  Share it with me.

bloggessdoodle

Click on the image to embiggen.

PS. This isn’t in my new book.  It’s just an extra for free because you’re awesome.  Here’s a link if you want to preorder the book.

UPDATED: COLORING IS HARD, Y’ALL.  Still working on it.

coloring-is-hard

*******

And now…time for the weekly wrap-up!

sid

Shit I made in my shop (Named “EIGHT POUNDS OF UNCUT COCAINE” so that your credit card bill will be more interesting.):

Shit-you-may-or-may-not-want-to-see:

This week’s wrap-up is brought to you by Potsafe.  At first I thought it was a safe to keep your pot in but turns out it’s a very cool kitchen safety accessory that protects kids (and everyone else) from accidental burns.  It’s actually really smart and you can check it out right here.  Mounts in minutes and protects kids (And clumsy people like me) from pulling a hot saucepan down from the stove.  Check out the video for a demo.

I made this for me. And for you.

When I was little my grandmother always used to tell me about her grandmother from Bohemia.  I don’t have any pictures of her so I decided to draw one last night.  And since you’ve been so incredibly supportive of my next book (YOU ARE HERE) I thought you might want to see it.

I miss

“I miss the people I never met but who made me who I am – and the people I have yet to meet who will make me who I will become.”

(Click on the picture to embiggen.)

As always, feel free to print or color or hang up or give to a friend as it’s for personal use.

PS. “YOU WROTE A NEW BOOK?”  I DID!  It’s half words and half drawings and I feel so lucky that people are already preordering it because I was –and am – terrified of coming out with something so different.  Pre-order info is here if you want to get one.  Or several hundred to pass out to strangers.  No judgement.

you are here cover

 

YOU GUYS.

On Tuesday my next book (YOU ARE HERE: An Owner’s Manual for Dangerous Minds) came out for preorder and I announced it and then went directly to my shrink’s office because I was afraid of how it would be received and I wanted her to tell me it would all be okay not matter what.  And it was.  Both because she made me feel better and because when I got back home and looked at the hourly Amazon ratings for YOU ARE HERE I saw it go from #280,000 to #24 and I literally cried with relief that you guys had my back even on something so different as this project.  And I celebrated and tweeted it because I knew it would drop back down any second but I wanted to remember that I had an amazing community of people who could make a book go into the top 20’s in three hours.

But then someone told me that it wasn’t #24 anymore and was, in fact, now the #6 bestselling book of the hour.  And then it was #4.  And then, late in the evening when Hailey and I were night-hunting for Pokemon (Pokemons?  Pokemen?) in the park I saw this:

Screen Shot 2016-07-22 at 11.20.53 AM

And I screamed out “I’M NUMBER TWO!” – which, admittedly,  is a weird thing to scream out in a dark public park.  And I considered also yelling “THAT’S NOT A EUPHEMISM FOR POOP” but then I decided not to because Hailey was already embarrassed enough and also, we all know you guys are here playing Pokemon in the middle of the night so maybe stop judging me.  

And I don’t know how to thank you.  For caring and for supporting me.  For buying the book for yourself or others, or putting it on your wish lists for later.  For sharing it with others and for being happy with me and celebrating this as a victory for all of us.  I’m so incredibly lucky that you are here for me when I share my very deep downward spirals, but you’re just as here for me when I share my moments of joy.  That doesn’t always happen for everyone and I want you to know how much this community means to me…in good times and bad.  Thank you.

And as I teased in my last post, here’s the final version of the drawing that Dorothy Barker kept trying to lay on top of:

It’s not in the book.  It’s just a bonus to thank you for being so great.  Feel free to print it out and color it or hang it up or line your bird cage with it. Whatever makes you happy.

Click the image to embiggen.

Click the image to embiggen.

Thank you.

PS.  And for those of you who are like, “WAIT, YOU ANNOUNCED YOUR NEXT BOOK?” here’s where you can preorder it, and here are some other drawings and a description of why it’s sort of your fault that it exists.

Amazon 
Barnes & Noble
Books-A-Million
Indigo
Indiebound

You Are Here jenny lawson

Thank you.

UPDATED: Wanna see the cover of my next book?

Remember last week when I announced my third book and then I fell into a puddle of relief when you said you were excited about it?  And I promised you that I’d tell you the title one day very soon?

Well, today is that day.

(If you don’t know what I’m talking about then go here and then come back.  We’ll wait.  Done?  Awesome.  Back to the blog post already in session.)

I really struggled choosing the title for this book because I wanted something unique and fun, but also serious and weird and basically encompassing all of the bizarro things that were going through my mind when I created it, and that’s not exactly easy to stuff into a single line.  In the last year I came up with a ton of different title ideas but none of them ever seemed quite right.

Here were a few contenders:

Completely and Fantastically Lost: An Obscure Guidebook For Misfits and Strangelings

Feeling Stabby: A sophisticated coloring book to soothe troublesome minds

THIS IS BULLSHIT: A handbook for life.

Get Lost. (But in a good way. Inside your head. Or in this book. Whatever. I’m not telling you what to do.  STOP YELLING AT ME.)

THIS IS YOUR BOOK. (To color, write in, discover yourself, set on fire and/or throw at assholes.)

I’m Not Allowed To Have Matches (And Other Things I’ve Learned): A coloring journal for creative vandals, notorious scribblers and incurable weirdos.

I JUST WANT MY BRAIN TO STOP BEING AN ASSHOLE: An illustrated journey for the similarly confused

Vandals Needed. See Inside.

THE BIBLE (PART 3)

None were quite right.  But I kept coming back to this specific  thought I’d had so often when I was creating the drawings.  If my head was in a bad place I’d remind myself that I just had to live through that exact temporary moment that I was in because eventually I’d pull out of the haze.  And if my head was in a good place I’d remind myself to stop and appreciate the moment I was in…to live in it and celebrate it rather than worry about the future or the past.  And when my brain went missing I’d remind myself that I was still real and that I would come back to myself.  That I was still here…even when I felt I wasn’t.  And that I wasn’t alone because you were here too.  Maybe not in person, but in spirit…you were alive in the moment with me, whether you knew it or not.  Whether you were struggling or thriving or feeling lost.

You weren’t lost.  You were here.  And that is a wonderful thing.

And suddenly, there was the title.

You Are Here jenny lawson

(Click to embiggen if you want to read the words on my sketches.)

It won’t come out for quite a while but until then I’ll be sharing other drawings here to thank you for being so supportive and for making me feel so much less alone.  For reminding me that I am here.  And for being here with me.

If you want to preorder you can do that here and then it’ll be a lovely surprise present to yourself if your memory is as faulty as mine.  Also, it’ll be a lovely surprise to me because I have no idea how this sort of book will do and I really, really hope you like it.

Want to preorder it?  Yes?  Really?  COME HERE AND LET ME LICK YOU.

A few places you can preorder today if I didn’t fuck everything up:

Amazon 
Barnes & Noble
Books-A-Million
Indigo
Indiebound

PS.  Thank you.  You have no clue how many times you’ve saved me.  I don’t know where I’d be without you, but I’m so grateful to be right here with you now.

PPS. A behind-the-scenes bonus:  I was only halfway done when I took this picture but this is what my lap looks like late at night…with a sketch pad and a variety of animals trying to make my life difficult.

Me: I'm drawing here. Dorothy Barker: Nope. Also, I ate your eraser.

Me: I’m drawing here. Dorothy Barker: Nope. Also, I ate your eraser.

PPS.  That drawing isn’t in the book.  I’ll share it here when I’m finished.  That way it’s like you’re getting a ton of the book for free as a bonus for pre-ordering.  Or for thinking about pre-ordering.  Or for telling someone to preorder it for you because you are hard to shop for and now your family doesn’t have to just give you a $20 bill for your birthday.  EVERYONE WINS.

UPDATED: HOLY SHIT, Y’ALL.  It’s #6 on the Amazon bestsellers list.  I’m sure it’ll drop back down any second but I can’t tell you what it means to have such an amazing community behind me.  DRINKS FOR EVERYONE!

#6

UPDATED AGAIN:

NUMBER 3.  IS THIS REAL LIFE?

NUMBER 3. IS THIS REAL LIFE?

I have a big announcement to make and I’m not sure how to say it but it’s all your fault. Sort of.

So.  I’ve dropped a few hints about a project I’ve been working on but I haven’t really written about it because I lost my words.  But they’re coming back and so now I’m going to try to explain it and hopefully you’ll understand why it’s important to me.

When I was on book tour last year I would sometimes share the drawings I’d make when I was locked up in my hotel each night.  I’ve always drawn.  It’s my meditation when my anxiety disorder gets out of control.  It gives my hands something to do so they don’t destroy me.  When I was young I kept a journal filled with patterns I’d perfected…ones I’d learned from others or created myself that kept my mind free…and I’d spend hours filling pages up with doodles and pictures and words and ideas and the patterns I’d found on old walls or garish carpets or bathroom stalls.  Whenever things got hard I would go back to these patterns, finding comfort in the intricate but uniform lines that would fill the page – a way of bringing order to the chaos if just for a few minutes.

"Just because

When I lived in Houston a woman moved next door to us.  She’d just moved from India and she’d often invite Hailey and I over for tea and paint mehndi designs on our hands or feet while we visited.  She had journals like mine – but different, filled with hand-drawn patterns in beautiful styles, and she explained that when she was young it was common for girl friends to share designs with each other.  She’d draw a pattern or design that she’d perfected in their book and they’d do the same in hers and in the end she’d have hundreds of ideas to use when making her henna artworks.  She tried to teach me a few but I never quite perfected them.  I shared some with her out of my books, and we experimented with them and made them more beautiful and elaborate.

jennysketch

In the last few years I’ve found other people who collect patterns.  They do mandalas or tangles or textural collages.  They trade them with others to inspire and the patterns become more fantastic as each person puts their hand to them.  They -like me – take pictures of forgotten patterns on abandoned buildings, and crumbling tombstones, and resurrect them.  They see the motifs in nature – the movement of trees or the way that ivy grows and they embellish those designs.  You learn to see things in a different perspective…the patterns that make up a life, or the world, or the universe.

Click to embiggen.

Nine months ago I was on book tour.  My anxiety keeps me locked in hotel rooms when I’m not doing a reading so I often spent that time drawing, using stolen hotel pens and pilfered sharpies.  I used motel room cups and pill bottles as stencils to create overlapping circles and I’d fill the circles with patterns and with words that I needed to hear myself.  I shared a few on instagram and was shocked at how many people responded.  They’d print them out to color or frame.  They’d bring them to signings so I’d autograph them.  They’d tattoo them on their bodies.  They’d give them to friends who were struggling and needed to be reminded they weren’t alone.

smallbloggessdoodle

These drawings were far from perfect.  They were wrinkled and muddied and I never had the right tools or pens but still people seemed to love them.  And suddenly instead of being embarrassed about them I was happy to share them, and I had the encouragement to share the drawings that usually only lived in my head or secret sketchbooks.  I saw them shared online, brilliantly tinted by people who used coloring the same way I used sketching…as an escape, a meditation, and a way to quiet a sometimes dangerous brain.  I saw people interpret them in lovely ways I hadn’t even meant, or add their own sketches to the drawings, or hang them up in cubicles or in frames.  I got a giant unexpected package from a classroom of 4th graders who used one of my images as an inspiration to create dozens of amazing stories they invented themselves.

bloggessdoodles

Several months ago I feel into a pretty heavy depression and it’s one I’m still crawling out of.  I’m finally having more good days than bad, but one of the repercussions of this depression was that it made it almost impossible to write.  Or, I should say, it made it almost impossible to write long-form chapters.  I still wrote…but strange things that gave me strength to move forward in the dark.  Some funny, some silly, some irreverent, some dark and painfully honest.  But for some reason my head wanted a picture for each one.

I can’t quite explain it.  Maybe it’s part of my mental illness.  Maybe it was involuntary art therapy.  All I know is that I couldn’t work on the book I was supposed to be working on because this…thing got in the way.  These drawings.  These images and thoughts and patterns and words.  And once they were down on paper I could turn the page and feel free of the thought.  As if I’d archived the emotion I was stuck in and could now move forward and see the next one waiting to be acknowledged and recognized.

I felt like a failure for falling behind on life and missing deadlines, but I have no doubt that these drawing saved me.  They gave me a reason, and a creative outlet, and a way to count out the long seconds of the days with each stroke of the pen.  They were all drawn by hand, slowly and meticulously, and as I worked on them I thought of the words in my head.  Each drawing had stories written into them.  Each contained a sentence or paragraph or a page of strange thoughts that went along with it.  As they become more elaborate I shared them with my shrink and my agent and my editor and suddenly a book emerged.  It was a book that seems like it wrote itself.  Not easily.  It struggled its way out of me as if it had control more than I did at times.  Which was good, because I had very little control at the time and that can be a problem when you struggle with impulse control issues and self-harm problems.  The book found itself.  Half of it images.  Half of it words.  Some funny and irreverent and profane, and some dark and confused, and some to remind me to keep breathing and that depression lies.

jennylawsondrawing

So I made a coloring book.

Sort of.

It’s a coloring book if you like to color.  It’s a journal if you like to write in books that make you question what’s going on.  It’s a set of posters that make you feel less alone.  It’s a collection of one-page stories or important sentences or pictures to tape on bathroom mirrors for strangers to see, or to hand to friends.  It’s a companion piece to Furiously Happy but it also stands alone.  It’s what saved me this year and I owe you for supporting and encouraging me whenever I hesitantly shared my work.  It turned into something much bigger than I ever imagined and hope that you like it.  I hope you like it so much you buy a dozen copies so you can color it or frame it or give it away.  If you don’t, that’s okay.  But I had to get it out of my head so I could move on.

bloggessdoodle

It probably won’t be in stores for a while because it takes time to publish books, but I should have a cover and title and all that jazz for you in the next week if things go smoothly.   In the meantime I’ll be sharing the occasional extra drawing that isn’t in the book here (most of what’s in the book is new and unpublished) and you can print it or share it or color it or post it up in your home or burn it in a fire to scare off monsters.  It’s up to you.

After all, you helped create it.

And I can’t thank you enough for that.