I don’t know what I’m doing but I’m doing it. Please do it with me. (Not sexually.)

Wanna do something fun with me? 

Awesome, because I need help. 

Hailey has gone off to college and it’s left me feeling entirely unmoored.  My therapist says that I need to fill the time that I had spent as the mom of a high-schooler with something positive for myself that is therapeutic and rewarding and that all sounds very healthy but I’m not good at doing healthy without someone else saying, “Hey…are you still in bed watching every iteration of the 90 Day Fiancé universe while trying to finish Candy Crush, or are you doing that thing that brings you joy?”  And this is where you come in…because maybe you also need to rediscover yourself, or fill time, or focus on a positive project and we can work on this shit together.

I get asked a lot about when my next coloring book is coming out.  (Did you know I wrote a coloring book?  And it somehow became a NYT bestseller and then people started tattooing my doodles on them like some kind of fever dream?)  And I don’t really have an answer for you because somewhere along the way I stopped drawing.  Why?  Because I somehow manage to convince myself that if I’m doing something I love it must be a waste of time.    That’s fucked up.  And it’s something I need to change, so starting today I’m making a community place where I’m going to create and share a new piece of art each week for a year, along with random musings about what is inspiring me and keeping me going.

I’m doing it on substack which you either know very well or not at all, so here’s a small primer.  Substack is a website where tons of authors, artists, scientists, etc. share what they’re doing.  If you subscribe to the person’s substack you get emails from them when they post or you can just go to their substack page to read and see what they’re working on.  If you subscribe to my substack you’ll get a new drawing from me every week that you can download and color or post on your wall or send to a friend or use to burn down an effigy of your ex.  

You’ll also be joining my one-year-of-art project team, which means you can leave comments and share links to what you’re working on that week…whether it’s journaling, or cross-stitch, or poetry, or tufting rugs in the shapes of vulvas.  NO JUDGEMENT.

If you want in it’s $6 a month (or $60 a year) to get everything (a new drawing every week, weird musings, community love). I also know that sometimes even $6 a month can be too much so one post every month will be free to everyone, so feel free to subscribe for free.  There’s also a “founding member” subscription which is just a regular subscription but more expensive (I don’t know…it’s a default when you start a substack page?) and if anyone wants that I’ll be giving out original small sketches in random giveaways to founders because it feels weird not to and also because after 52 weeks of drawings I suspect I will be running out of room to store them.

Also, if you’ve been interested in starting a substack yourself you can follow along and watch me fuck it all up because I literally do not know what I’m doing and you can learn with me.  For an example of a substack done right, you can check out two that I subscribe to:  Bad Astronomy and Subversive Cross stich.  (If you want to check out their pages without subscribing just click “no thanks”.)

In the end there may only be five of us working together on this year-long project but there’s something to be said for knowing that five people have your back and want to create beauty/kitsch/horror/ridiculousness together.

Ready?  ART TEAM ACTIVATE. Pretty please subscribe by clicking here to get your weekly post. Also, I promise never to spam you or use your email for anything but this. Unless it’s to send you random otter pictures. Everyone needs random otter pictures.

PS. The first post is just this post and of course, it’s free for everyone. I’m going to publish my first paid post in the next hour so can you tell me if it works? If it works you’ll get an email taking you to the post. If it doesn’t work you will be able to hear me launching my computer out of the window.

56 thoughts on “I don’t know what I’m doing but I’m doing it. Please do it with me. (Not sexually.)

Read comments below or add one.

  1. EXCITED! I tried to buy the subscription thingy, but when I clicked the subscribe button, it just said that I’m a free subscriber. ? So I’ll check back and see if I can be a paid subscriber – is anyone else having this issue?

    (I only see 2 people tried to subscribe that didn’t go through for some reason, but it doesn’t tell me who exactly. Lemme know if it doesn’t let you look at the post I’m working on now. Should be done in the next hour. Love! ~ Jenny)

  2. You are an absolutely gifted artist, these drawing are amazing!! I can see why people tattoo them on their body!

  3. I’ve heard the term Substack, but had no idea what it was.
    I’m going to go have a little look-see around yours!

  4. You drew all of these images??? This is amazing! Seriously… somehow I missed that you could do this. Wow.

    (I did! Thanks. 🙂 ~ Jenny)

  5. I’m an empty nester as well this fall and also trying to rediscover who I am. Such a strange time. And an extra F-you for it to coincide with the onset of menopause, right? I am publishing my second book and running the foster support program for a big dog rescue group. I will definitely follow along and subscribe to your substack!

  6. I’ve heard the term Substack but never knew what it was. I’m going to have a little look-see on yours!

  7. “Because I somehow manage to convince myself that if I’m doing something I love it must be a waste of time”. Holy shit did you hit that one on the head!

  8. “Because I somehow manage to convince myself that if I’m doing something I love it must be a waste of time”. Holy shit did that land hard with me. Thank you! Will definitely check out your substack.

  9. Your coloring book helped me so much when I was in a dark place and I can’t thank you enough for giving it to the world. Can’t wait to see what else you create!

  10. I live in a small town that has an arts center right down the street. Years ago, when I was miserable because I’d been there a year or so and hadn’t met my people yet, my therapist told me about a new class at the center that was being started by an empty nester. It started out with gathering to talk about our lives and then working on an art project (very low-key–if you didn’t want to do what the leader was showing, you could go scrounge in the supply room and work on what you wanted). It started as a weekly class that was to run 5 weeks. It ran for 10 years as a weekly thing (though the talking part was dropped, and several of us OGs miss that), then came to be monthly and is STILL going on. I made some fun art I still have in my house, and met my people—we went to Mexico together one year, and still meet up often and zoom weekly for gals who moved away.
    In short (too late!) I think this is a great idea and ima sign up, because my retirement isn’t as splendid as I’d like it to be.

    (Love! ~ Jenny)

  11. I am one of those doodle tattooed, or something like that! Glad to see you at it again!

    (You are my special angel. ~ Jenny)

  12. Oh I love this! I am so in! My daughter turns 23 this year and I am still empty nesting hard. I had her when I was 17 so we have been together my entire adult life. I have been majorly drifty without her. This feels like just the thing!

  13. This is a fabulous idea! And I will be delighted to start a substack too, and then we can maybe have a contest about just how bad we fuck up, because I’m pretty sure I can fuck up way worse than you! And then, perhaps without having to spend any MORE $$ on therapy, I will actually learn that what doing what I love is NOT a waste of time, nor do I need to feel guilty about it. I make jewelry but don’t sell it because…hmmm…lemme see, what’s the reason??! Oh, yeah, cuz I find social media very intimidating and mystifying, and I think it will take me years to set up a website (of course, it has to be perfect!!), and I’m pretty sure that some planet or moon is almost always fucking up my stars, and…ummm…yeah…welllll….maybe it’s time to stop making excuses? …..or not, we’ll see… Anyway, see you on substack!

  14. I love seeing other people’s stuff, but I do not enjoy being a creative person myself.
    But you have my sympathies because I am disabled and high risk for Covid and flu and RSV and so I have to avoid crowds and public indoor places, and my health issues make it difficult to get out and go places, plus I’m getting divorced and am going to be very poor.
    So everyone in my life said I should join a religious house of worship, (but while I am spiritual, I am not religious, and I would not enjoy that,) or join a arts or craft group, (not my thing,) or go to yoga or the gym ( but I can’t afford it, again the germ risk thingy, and it would be physically difficult.) The worst suggestion was for me to join social media, which is full of nasty or petty or fake people, bots, and are really just shell companies for profits from data mining. So between lack of money, my disabilities, my health risks and apathy towards organized religion and crafting, I’m not sure how to fill my time doing positive or constructive things that are not internet or technology related and that bring me joy and let me make new friends.
    It’s hard when you don’t have kids or work or other places to meet new people with shared goals or interests and you have so many limitations due to disabilities and health issues.
    I know I’m going to have to go out into the world and make an effort to get involved, even though I was never a fan of group activities as an introvert, and I would much rather watch my tv shows and read a book and be a homebody with someone I can love and trust and have a few good friends that accept me for who I am.
    I know it must be hard for your depression and anxiety to deal with this upheaval in your life, but you can take comfort in that you have created a wonderful place to share with your friends who are fans (in the most uncreepy way possible,) and who enjoy the wonderful creative stuff that you share with us and make us feel that it is okay to be not okay.
    Keep spreading your love and acceptance and new creative stuff, and we will appreciate you and learn from you and your blog commenters, and we can all help you and also ourselves feel a little less alone in our little corner of weirdness.

    (I’m sending you so much love. You are not alone. ~ Jenny)

  15. Beautiful drawings! I just love them. Doing anything creative, whether or not you share it with anyone, is of great benefit to you and yes to the world. I’m an avid knitter and also do free form embroidery on felt. Just cuz I want to. Keep going!

  16. Watching every iteration of 90 day fiancé makes me feel better about my life, so I’d say that’s pretty good for my mental health

  17. I so enjoy your art and already have the first book! Re: the empty nest thing: If your bird had not flown the nest to go to school (Yay, kudos, excitement!!), you would have a whole different set of problems relating to ‘failure to launch.’ Change is good. Fighting against it … well, that’s not so good.

  18. Your drawings are beautiful! I’m really tempted to do this and make myself draw responses to everything!

    (DO IT. ~ Jenny)

  19. Check out the FB page for the Hairy Farmpit Girls and see what they are crocheting in their spare time (hint:boob pillows). They raise chickens, goats and donkeys and are a blast.

  20. Funny you say this. I’ve been trying to find my artsy fartsy crafty people for awhile and have tried on lots of local in person groups and none fit. In fact, I just loudly quit one today while crying. Anyway…. Maybe this is the way to go for me. I follow you on Instagram but I rarely post there. I am really into making quilts right now but when I tagged the creators of the patterns I was basically told my quilts were nice but my photos were not instagram-y enough. We fuck that. But also, I am forming a group at my library called JCM and we will never tell them what it means but it is Joyful Crafty Misfits. I am inviting all the people I have liked from the groups I tried on, aka the non bitches, to make some art and craft together. Wish me luck and see you in the stacks.or sub stacks. How do the cool kids say this.

    (Quilting is an art I never perfected so I salute you. And I want to see them. ~ Jenny)

  21. Signed up for the free version. Wish I could commit to paying every month, but not at the moment. Thank you for sharing with us.

  22. I recently started something new for me, because I was becoming frustrated and sad about not getting “me” stuff done; always doing work-work or house-work. Every third Friday I take a day off from work and call it a Mental Health day. I do only what I want to do – no work work and no house work. 🙂 It makes me happy.

  23. Not sure if it counts as “my” art when all I do is color in your art 🙂

    (It ABSOLUTELY counts. ~ Jenny)

  24. Jenny your art is as beautiful as it is soulfully affirming. The world should see your art and I applaud your genius idea to share it on substack!

    I understand very deeply your quote, “Because I somehow manage to convince myself that if I’m doing something I love it must be a waste of time.”

    I mean, it’s like you mined from my long-standing distorted thought hurdles. 😆 I say this as my unfinished painting sits silently judging me on my desk 😂😭. I’m a painter as well as a drawer and reading this made my heart leap.

    If it’s feasible I’ll sign up, and if not I’ll check it out on a monthly basis for sure!

    Also Heather Feather, I SO understand you on all levels. ❤️You are not alone!!!

    As an adenomyosis sufferer, probable endometriosis warrior and autoimmune weirdo (neurological issues and allergenic stuff), I send many hugs and spoons to you. 💕💕

  25. I think you are a genius! And I use your coloring book as a journal and add to your drawings when I’m feeling stabby. It really helps! Those are usually the days when I have questioned my career /life choices and had to check numerous times if I’ve remembered to put on all my clothes. What can I say, it’s a thing. 🤷‍♀️ And now that I have mentioned you are a genius I have 100% forgotten my other comment.

  26. I’ll join you! Maybe I’ll start my own too! After getting to help booth sit for an artist friend at Summerfolk Music Festival I decided it’s high time and long overdue that I get my arse in gear and get my bird ornament business back up and running! (Got back burnered as i struggled with my mental health for the last 4 years. Couldnt find the will to work on them) So I too am on a creative “dust it off” mission! ^_^

  27. ” if I’m doing something I love it must be a waste of time ” — dear Goddess, how that resonates! I blame my parents, but yours seem quite nice.

    The Up is Down drawing makes me think of Gertrude Stein. Only yours is more Ash of Yggdrasil than Rose.

  28. You are an amazing human, Jenny. So excited you’re doing this for yourself and all of us! Be proud of yourself. ❤️

  29. Love, Love, LOVE your art. Don’t stop. But please consider learning to play the ukulele. It’s really the easiest instrument to learn and all it takes is just a few main chords and you can play a TON of songs. It’s hard to be unhappy playing a ukulele. Not impossible, but hard. It’s a happy sound. And GREAT therapy. And you can get a good one for about $50. OR, you could get one, decide you don’t want it and draw all over it and give it to me… Okay, you could auction it for charity.

  30. The “launching my computer out of the window” is honestly a real mood and I find myself wanting to do the exact same thing at least 3x a week!


  31. I have a Substack where I blog about what it was like to have a terminal lung cancer, have two weeks left to live, go to hospice and only stay 6 days because when I was drugged to hell in the hospital tiny voices told me a drug called Keytruda would completely cure me. Fast forward 4 years and add 60 pounds two working lungs and subtract the cancer, well, yeah. I’m cancer free, a cancer advocate, and a unicorn that’s seen her own funeral planned. It’s all good times at the Substack! 💜.

  32. I just dropped my daughter off in ANOTHER COUNTRY for school and I feel like I just lost a limb 😭

  33. You are an amazing artist!! I bought your coloring book when it came out and it is incredible and I gave it to someone who really needed it. Everyone should have it! I’m going to join this thing you’re doing right now because I need to be a part of it and I will look forward to whatever you draw and write❤️

  34. If doing something creative brings you joy – that is a good thing. If reading a book brings you joy – that is a good thing.
    Not every second of everyday needs to be full of things to do. But yes, 2 hours a day SHOULD be doing something creative. At least that is how I roll. Two hours of trash TV = 200 cross stitches done.


  35. Jenny, your art is phenomenal!
    And your timing couldn’t be better – I’m also rootless (retired, disabled, etc.) and still wanting to contribute something.
    Two weeks ago, I found a Facebook group: Random Acts of Crochet Kindness.com
    Yarn crafters make small, simple gifts from leftover yarn, then hide the items on library shelves, in Little Free Libraries, on park benches, at bus stops etc. with a tag that says that this item is free, if you want it. Bookmarks, butterflies, flowers, small amigurumi figures, the possibilities are endless. I read your post just after I returned from dropping off my first batch of freebies, and it feels great.

  36. I’m jealous of your ability to create such drawings. Without giving away more information than you want to might I ask about your process, for example, maybe you use pencil first for freehand or sometimes with drawing tools such as a circles template and then ink over? Or are you a digital wonder? And about how long do your more involved drawings take on a calendar basis, not necessarily hours of drawing? I image it would take me about a year to complete some of what I’ve seen. Love your art and your blog and your books and everything!

    (I sketch it in pencil first and then draw with pens. I trace upside-down bowls to make the perfect circles. It depends on how complicated the drawing is but generally I’d say about 5-10 hours on each, but I’m a slow worker and end up erasing a lot and starting over again. ~ Jenny)

  37. I’m so seriously considering it. But do I join and share snippets of the story I’m writing? Or do I reanimate my blog, which was fun but demanding. Kind of like the story. Or stories. I have two I’m working on and the bones of a third. Bah.

  38. I’m the same: if it’s fun it must be bad or a waste of time. So I don’t do it. Or I get so caught up in my head that I can’t work on it because it won’t be good enough. That includes my novel that is 1/2 finished for which I got distinctions at RMIT and it includes crafting. I started awards for representations of disability in speculative fiction. Then a pile on instigated by a book agent trying to sell a book and a couple of authors (including the author whose book was being marketed to the US at that time) totally shattered my confidence. I still haven’t made the awards for 2021, which I was in the process of gathering materials and developing ideas in March/April 2021 when the pile on happened. They felt entitled to destroy me because I’m a disabled woman on the internet. If I’d been a nondisabled man it would not have happened. So here I am, over 2 years later, still struggling to write and publish reviews, can’t do the awards because they told me to shut up and stop interneting because they didn’t like me (anymore, I’d given them good free publicity but y’know, for some people nothing is ever enough).

    Sorry, I’m crying and probably rambling. I just feel so seen, you are so relatable.

  39. Thank you for this. It reinforces exactly what I’ve noticed about myself lately: that super-fucked-up thought that if I truly enjoy the process of something, it must be a waste of time. Like it has to feel like a pain in the ass for it to be worthy of my effort. I think this comes from decades of doing things because I was supposed to — going to school, doing homework, going to a job I at least didn’t hate. I was of the impression that being a real, grown-ass adult meant spending all my time doing things I didn’t want to. Now, I am trying to embrace my urges to collage and paint even though I’m not creating high art, even though there’s no real capitalistic reason for me to do it, but just because it feels good to do it. Thanks for reinforcing this idea; I need a lot of encouragement in this area. (Oh, and Substack is awesome and much simpler than a lot of blog/newsletter platforms. Plus all the cool, weird and weirdly cool people hang out there.

  40. You’re incredible and wonderful in all the best ways. Thank you so much for sharing yourself through your stories, writing, art… (I feel like there’s more). I own everything you’ve published and revisit it all regularly. You should see the shape my coloring book is in. And I’ve needed to replace my copy of Let’s Pretend … twice now bc it’s been loved so hard 😉
    Checking out this substack thing and wishing you all the best.

  41. I’m not an empty nester, i’m actually only 33. However, I’ve been on disability with debilitating chronic pain for the last few years and I can no longer enjoy the things that truly bring me joy (my career, walking my dog, lifting weights, being an adrenaline junkie, traveling, etc.). SO I’ve also been trying to rediscover who I am/what I enjoy as I am now, because I can’t keep waiting for my “old life” to come back, or I’ll miss out on all of my life.
    All of your books have had such a profound impact on my life, and I’m SO excited to join your sub stack and feel like I’m kind of hanging out with you in a way 🤣 Hopefully finding a way towards my (and you towards your) truer self in the process!!

  42. The whole ‘doing something I love/waste of time’ issue is I think tied up in how women have been conditioned/expected to always put others first. Women who don’t do this or are perceived to not do this are judged as selfish/uncaring types. So unless the things you ‘love’ to do just happen to be things that take care of others, not much support out there for doing anything that is ‘just’ for you. Kudos for taking up your art again, your drawings are beautiful:)

  43. Back when HP was still a thing I sent you Mad Eye Toady. I do the drawing thing too, and have been in a YouTube and doomscrolling pit of despair for a while now. I’ll be subscribing.

    (I still love my Mad Eye Toady! ~ Jenny)

  44. Ohhhhhhh, I WANT to…
    (Lisa dithers) do I sign up because putting actual cash on the line means I will follow through? Or do I just moisten my big toe a little bit to see if this is as for-me as it looks to be? (More dithering, hand wringing, and not a little anxiety.)

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