The Process of Making My Books Chose Me

I’ve been busy building my own little book store at Etsy for the past few years! I make handmade books which are tributes to the writers, the artists, and the stuff of life that delight me… So there’s one celebrating dogs, and one shouting about the wonder of trees, and lots of tributes to dead writers who have enhanced my existence beyond compare. I count my poet influencers amongst my friends – they have informed my thinking and feeling for the majority of my life. I truly believe they are lifesavers.

What I really find out when I dig deeper about any of my literary heroes, is how human they are – how full of paradox and confusion – and that endears me more. They above all others have shown me how truly miraculous it is to be human and alive and suffering as well as exalting. I lead a secular existence – and I am no apologist about that – but the spiritual exists within, and poets help me to embrace that side of my nature.

Curiosity is the springboard to doing something, whatever it may be; it is about the opportunity to dig deeper, to investigate. The process of making my books chose me really. I have loved mining the minds of past thinkers – and current ones too – I think in an attempt to understand more about how to be human. That seems strange, since being human should surely be the most natural of processes. I don’t find that strange, I find it discombobulating, I look at behaviour to learn from it. I know now I am not alone in that feeling of alienation from my own species, and writers and artists taught me that. I learnt from my early life that being a career girl disassociated me from what is most important to me. So I stopped.

The human being is more than the sum of its parts, and should not be seen only as a unit of production. The more technology we use, the more we need to balance our lives with connecting with nature, with life force, with the act of creating expression.

”I have spent my life watching, not to see beyond the world, merely to see, great mystery, what is plainly before my eyes. I think the concept of transcendence is based on a misreading of creation. With all respect to heaven, the scene of the miracle is here, among us. The eternal as an idea is much less preposterous than time, and this very fact should seize our attention.”

Marilynne Robinson

When I was at home building and looking after my family, I needed an outlet for creative expression, and that was blogging about what I had read. I had read my way through novels and histories all my life – trying to discover what it means to be human. Once my children grew into the inevitable older children and young adults, I was able to spend more time creating. And I taught myself how to make my handmade books, a pursuit that helps to keep me calm and less distressed by the state of the world. I wonder how books will stay the course – the challenge being the erosion of attention span we seem to be creating with the onset of the new technologies. Now we can google anything, why bother? We need to keep alive the fires of curiosity that make us feel alive, and libraries do that. Bookshelves do that.

Books do that.

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