Dear Danny:

I’ve been lucky enough to get lots of email from visitors to this journal. These are some of the interesting questions I received over the past month:

When did you start to draw? I mean, did you ever draw when you were younger? Or try to draw? — Katharine

This is a tricky question. If I show you an example of how I use to draw before I let myself have permission to make drawing a habit, and you say, "well, that’s pretty good. I could never do that." then it’ll be raw meat for all those innner critics out there, just chomping to trash your drawings. Or you might just say, "Hold on, this guy sucks! What the hell am I listening to him for?" (Right answer, by the way).
So let me put it this way:
I’ve always doodled in symbols: cartoon heads, cubes, grids, etc. and over the years I’ve done a half dozen lame acrylic paintings. But everything changed when I developed the habit of truely seeing and of recording, deliberately and carefully and without preconception, what I saw on paper. As I have mentioned here and in my book, that is a very different thing from doodling. But if you’d still like to see some typical doodles and promise not to get thrown by it either way, go for it.

O no… you can’t take away "25 books"! — Katrine

Noooo… we NEED the 25 books! — Serena

Oh, okay. here it is: the return of 25 Books.


I would like to start drawing/sketching/doodling. Do you have recommendations for paper/pencils etc for a beginner — Alan

My tools change all the time. I love to experiment and playing with materials is part of the fun for me. Generally, the only pencils I use are colored ones and I never erase my lines no matter how ‘wrong’ they may seem at the time. I urge you do to do the same. Try out different pens till you get something you like. It should flow smoothly and feel good in your grip. I like Sakura’s pigma micron pens, also Faber Castell’s PITT artist pens, and my new beloved Staedler pigment liners, but there are many other good choices. As for paper, I like to buy heavy bond paper, in sketch pad form. It’ll hold up to all sorts of abuse, ink, paint, markers, without bleeding and it feels solid and good. It also makes each page feel important, somehow.
Frankly, though, you could use a ball-point pen and a sheet of copier paper. The main thing is to begin, have fun, get hooked and then branch out. Don’t worry about posterity, readers, mistakes, etc.

My husband could not locate your book in B&N in Manhattan on Monday. THEY said they had quite a few copies and then three people could not find a single one. We ordered it from Amazon instead. — Melly

Bastards. It’s a part of the massive conspiracy to keep journal-making an obscure hobby instead of an awesome power that will take over and transform the world. Barnes & Noble loves to shelve my book in the New York section. Look for it there or take some form of political action.

I don’t know who you are! Stop emailling me! Take me off your fucking list! — Ganesh

I’m not sure who Ganiesh is either. He won’t be joining us in future discussions.

Was wondering, do you ever sign your books and sell them yourself or should I just follow the link from your site and buy the book on Amazon? — Myra

The most efficient way for you to get a copy of Everyday Matters is via Amazon or by badgering your local bookshop. If your really want, though, I’ll gladly sign it for you. And please let me know what you think of the book when you get it.

Did you hand-write the text in Everyday Matters or use a font?  I’m curious because your handwriting is fascinating to look at.  If you’ve managed to make your own font, I’d be interested in downloading or purchasing it… or just admire it from afar.  I really like your handwriting. — Wileen

While I hand wrote large parts of my book, the opening pages were primarily set in a font based on my own handwriting. It helped to distinguish these big blocks of text form the rest of the higgledy-piggledy stuff and stopped my publisher from asking if we couldn’t just set the whole thing in type. I find it ironic that an English teacher would admire my handwriting — when I was in high school, I was always getting in trouble for illegibility!

What do you use to color in your drawings?  I have been wanting to color in some of mine in my moleskines but I don’t want to mess them up. —Joe

Although I am not a moleskine user any more, I used Tombow brush markers, colored pencils and occasional patches of ink. The pages are water resistant so they’re not friendly with many paints. But don’t be afraid to experiment; it’s part of journaling. Even if you screw up a page you can always write about the experience!

Did you do a little Photoshopping on the color lay-in (of your Martha Stewart Piece), maybe? If so, how’d you like the experience? – Karen

I hated it.
I rarely work this way and regret it when I do. I did random sketches on location and made notes. Then I came home and scanned the pages and built my layouts in Photoshop, then printed them out, wrote in the captions, rescanned the calligraphy and laid it back in. Then, I colored the whole thing on screen because I was rushed. The colors are insipid and vague and didn’t come from observation. The computer makes me fussy and wooden. I also hate having the ability to undo things and to mechanically work with transparent layers and I hate using a Wacom tablet instead of a pen and I hate working vertically instead of flat on my lap. And I also hate the fact that it exists only in 72 dpi form on line. I hated it. Hate.

I was just curious as to how you get such great resolution on your drawings whenever they are posted to the web. — Jon

I scan my book at 75 dpi. Then, in Photoshop, I adjust the curves so the whites are white, the blacks are black, and the colors look right. Then I use the ‘Save for Web’ function, and boil it all down to a medium quality, JPEG 650 dpi wide. Then I mutter a brief prayer to St. Twain, the patron saint of scanning.

I’d stopped drawing and printmaking when I started a new career, but have since rediscovered journalling through your book and website…I discovered, yesterday, that I had inadvertently left my journal on the subway. What did you do when you left your journal on the plane? — Michelle

Maybe the pain of losing your journal was meant to remind you of all the days you lost when you weren’t making things. Don’t lose any more! As for some practical advice: put your name and number in future ones!