For the 1-hour drop-in map workshop at BWF, I made little zine-fold (aka 8-fold) booklets, which I put in little mermaid-stamped envelopes with little pencils and little pieces of nice drawing paper. (I think I learned this in primary school, but there are plenty of instructions for this sort of booklet online, e.g. wikiHow.)
Above, you can see the mock-up process (the easiest way to turn a vague idea into something real: Mockups and outlines).
I folded a piece of paper into a booklet and really quickly, without thinking too hard, scribbled the whole layout into it. Then I went back over and drew all over that with arrows, moving things around — but that hand-drawn version has almost everything in it.
Then I drew up a template in Photoshop, with shading for margins and areas that wouldn’t print, so I knew what I had to work with.
I put the main text roughly into place, and then put in the example images I already had (I’d deliberately drawn some calendar pages and other illustration to give me examples for map workshops — see for example Tiny Forests and Banners).
I printed that out, and used it as a template to draw all the extra details around, like the map and lettering on the front cover.
Then my housemate and I proofread it a few times, and I spent some pleasant hours cutting and folding and listening to music.
Was this overkill for a free one-hour drop-in workshop? Yes. Was I overcompensating for my own uncertainty as to the exact venue constraints and whether this workshop could be done in an hour? Yes. Would I do it again? Yes.
Designing and folding the booklets took time, but it was proportionate to the result. People enjoyed them (they were awfully cute), and said it was good to have for such a short class, and to be able to take away if they had to leave early (since it was drop-in). And I really liked have a physical object to give people, so I knew they left the workshop with something.
The biggest lesson for me was how useful this sort of booklet/zine/object was in planning and giving the workshop. It’s easy to just go wild with handouts. But this was a single, self-contained object, with a size appropriate to the length of the class (three double-page openings and a wrap-around cover — the flip-side of the paper was blank for people to use as scrap paper). It was something that constrained my natural urge to put ALL THE INFORMATION in a talk, but it was also a prop I could talk to and scale my time around.
It might not apply to every format, but I’d like to experiment with similar (if less-illustrated) scaled handouts as a central structuring object for other workshops.
I’m adding this to my running list of lessons I’ve learned for giving workshops and presentations (see e.g. lessons for presentations and conferences). I should probably do a master post at some point, but for now the main lessons I have learned (your mileage my vary) are:
Use a handout scaled to the workshop size.
Do an initial outline very quickly, before overthinking.
If a presentation is image based, arrange images in the slideshow first, print them out 9-to-a-page to keep track, then just talk to/about the pictures. Minimal script needed — often any title-slides and maybe one or two scribbled notes of phrases to remember are enough.
If a slideshow is image-heavy, export a copy to PDF and use that if the tech set-up allows — you can zoom in on a PDF in ways a Powerpoint doesn’t easily allow.
If a script is necessary, use cascading dot-points — this makes it easier to edit for time (skip up to high-level dot-points) or elaborate (by referring to the low-level ones), as well as to navigate quickly.
If it’s a creative workshop, get people making things as early as possible.
If you want people to interact, get them to share their thoughts/activities in smaller groups, then pick on the groups for any ideas that emerge (giving everyone safety in numbers/plausible deniability).
If possible, mixed-age workshops can be great. Adults mellow the kids, kids loosen up the adults, everyone seems more willing to show their work, and if you need someone to act out an implausible action for art reference purposes, young joints are better suited.
Dickens, in his afterword to Our Mutual Friend, describes the fine balance (in a serialised novel!) of giving readers enough information to work out what was happening, but little enough that they thought they weren’t meant to. The trick of letting the audience feel smart without thinking the author foolish.
IN LIEU OF PREFACE.
When I devised this story, I foresaw the likelihood that a class of readers and commentators would suppose that I was at great pains to conceal exactly what I was at great pains to suggest: namely, that ******, and that ********. Pleasing myself with the idea that the supposition might in part arise out of some ingenuity in the story, and thinking it worth while, in the interests of art, to hint to an audience that an artist (of whatever denomination) may perhaps be trusted to know what he is about in his vocation, if they will concede him a little patience, I was not alarmed by the anticipation.
To keep for a long time unsuspected, yet always working itself out, another purpose originating in that leading incident, and turning it to a pleasant and useful account at last, was at once the most interesting and the most difficult part of my design. Its difficulty was much enhanced by the mode of publication; for, it would be very unreasonable to expect that many readers, pursuing a story in portions from month to month through nineteen months, will, until they have it before them complete, perceive the relations of its finer threads to the whole pattern which is always before the eyes of the story-weaver at his loom. Yet, that I hold the advantages of the mode of publication to outweigh its disadvantages, may be easily believed of one who revived it in the Pickwick Papers after long disuse, and has pursued it ever since.
I had a lovely three days at the Brisbane Writers Festival! I had hoped there would be more days, but was miserably unwell during the week, and only just managed to claw myself back to being able to go in on Friday.
Unfortunately, this meant I missed hearing the readings and seeing the announcements of the winner of the Wordplay Microfiction prize on the Thursday, but I was permitted to read all the finalists’ stories after the event, and was enchanted with all the elegant, eloquent, unexpected ways they riffed on the inspiration image.
I can’t find a list of the winners online yet, but congratulations!
On Friday I chaired the “Debuting in a Pandemic Panel”, with Jacqueline Maley, Sophie Overett and Lyndall Clipstone.
The three books were very different: Jacqueline Maley’s The Truth About Her is a novel of guilt, journalism, love and motherhood. Sophie Overett’s The Rabbits depicts of stifling Brisbane summers, and the damage and enchantment that can exist between generations. Lyndall Clipestone’s Lakesedge is a gothic, romantic fantasy, with more than a touch of the fairytale.
And it was lovely to bring together all the experiences which went into bringing these books into being, editing and launching them during the second year of a pandemic, and finding space and peace to write — and books to vanish into!
On Saturday I gave a one hour map illustration workshop.
It was actually really fun to see if this workshop could work in 1 hour (it did! although of course you can dive much deeper and do a larger map with more time) and to put together this little zine-fold instruction book which I hope to build on for future projects. This, although brief, was a very large and lively workshop between LoveYA events at the Brisbane Square Library.
After that I was on a panel with Lynette Noni and C. S. Pacat, chaired by Samantha Baldry, called “Sweet, Sweet, Fantasy”.
We got very intense about research and making things up, getting things written, planning, exclaiming over each others’ writing processes, etc.
And on Sunday, I gave a three hour workshop on observation journals, honing skills and pursuing creative fascinations.
It was a smaller group and a long delightful workshop, wide-ranging and intense, and everyone dug thoroughly into the exercises, which was fascinating for all of us, because a lot of the point of this approach is that it will vary as people chase down their own processes. It was lovely to see how many pages of exercise, thoughts, ideas, plans and even drawings everyone left with.
And around all the presenting and planning there were wonderful conversation with friends new and old, writers and publicists, publishers and agents, readers and fans, librarians, waiters, volunteers and BWF staff and board members, poets and musicians.
I might update this post with some photos if I come across them.
April short story reading post (lots of thoughts on what various short stories are doing — also, I think I’ve worked out how to make links within a post, so you should be able to use the list of stories at the end of the post to jump to where they are first mentioned)
Also, I have a mailing list now (not a newsletter; it’s for major news and things people might have missed). You can sign up here: Mailing List Sign-Up
Posts over on Patreon, at various tiers, were also abbreviated this month, but included: advance previews of some of these posts, a couple weeks of observation journal pages (with PDFs), some life and PhD updates, printable bookmarks and borders, and (for some) a tigerish sort of short story.
Note: Want to support the arts? This calendar is made possible by patrons, who get it a little bit early, along with alternative colourways, and other sneak-peeks and behind-the-scenes art (patron levels start from US$1): patreon.com/tanaudel. It is also supported by those very kind people who throw a few dollars towards it via the tip jar: ko-fi.com/tanaudel.
Here, for May, is a calendar of small fairy-tale treasures, variously defined.
Here’s a glimpse of the sketch I used as a base. It’s drawn on an iPad in Procreate, which is proving very useful for adjusting sketches, moving components, and checking that repeats will work.
This is what it looked like when I was checking that it will join up as a pattern, in due course.
Then I printed the sketch and inked it, as usual, with a dip pen, while listening to the Disaster Girls podcast.
I do want to work it up as a repeating pattern, but I need to jostle a few leaves around and time has been slightly compressed by events. I’ll update this post when I get the repeating design up — in the meantime, there are many other calendar designs available as prints, scarves, cases etc on Redbubble: tanaudel.redbubble.com.
And here (for personal use) are the printable versions — one pre-coloured and one to colour in yourself. If you like them and/or like supporting artists, you can contribute to the calendar (and get it and other behind-the-scenes things early) at patreon.com/tanaudel (starts at US$1/month) or tip me a few dollars through Ko-Fi:ko-fi.com/tanaudel. Either is greatly appreciated!
Also, I’ve started a mailing list (not a newsletter), if you’d like to keep up with any major announcements: Mailing List Sign-Up
This post is a roughly tidied version of my April 2022 tweets about short stories. It’s quite long (although the month’s reading was abbreviated by Covid), so I’m putting the rest of it below the cut. There’s a list of all stories at the very end of the post.
In this instalment of tv sketching, I’ve discovered Les Petits Meurtres d’Agatha Christie (Wikipedia; AgathaChristie.com), aka Agatha Christie’s Criminal Games / Little Murders. Only one season (one from the 1950s-set series — the season numbering is convoluted) is currently available here on SBS On Demand, and only for a few more days.
The map of Western Massachusetts bookstores, which I started in 2019 (while sitting in Book Moon in Easthampton) and which was delayed by, well, 2020 and 2021, is now out and about!
It has been in the Daily Hampshire Gazette, and you can also get a copy from Book Moon directly.
I pinched these photos from their social media.
If you are in their area on Independent Bookstore Day (30 April), a number of the shops in the area will have limited special edition offers and freebies, and Book Moon have already started their 50% off sale on used history, biography, art and travel books.