Discover more from It's Good to Be Here
Celebrity diaries, pretty ink, and flowers
Plus: life advice from the movie set
Look at Alan Rickman’s charming diary!
If you didn’t already have enough reasons to love Alan Rickman—from his gorgeous role in Sense & Sensibility to his terrific work in Love, Actually (and so many more great films—feel free to tell me about your favorite Alan Rickman movie in the comments!)—now, seven years after his death, we have a new reason to love him!
HIS FABULOUS ILLUSTRATED DIARY!
Okay, I don’t know exactly how much of it is illustrated, but this page spread (which ran in The Guardian, along with an excerpt) tells me that he knew how to draw, he knew his way around his art supplies, and he enjoyed a nice little observational sketch.
These and other page spreads are reproduced in Madly, Deeply: The Diaries of Alan Rickman. I don’t think there’s a ton of art, I think it’s mostly text. But this one page spread says so much about him! And it’s a great reminder: Your sketchbook doesn’t have to be extraordinary. You can make an ordinary little drawing of an ordinary little house, and scribble your thoughts around the edge, and the result is charming! Why not give it a go? Alan Rickman found the time! You could, too!
I’m also in love with these cups
Novelist Emily Maloney is also a ceramicist. For her novel Cost of Living, she made a cup based on the cover design and gave a few away as gifts. Then she started making cups based on other people’s books, and sending the cups to the authors.
I cannot get over how beautiful these cups are, and what a lovely tribute they are to the books and the book covers. I’ve never been tempted to get into ceramics, but these cups? Tempting!
A Year of Slow Flowers
Some of you may know that a million years ago (it was 2007) I wrote a book called Flower Confidential, about the global flower industry. I didn’t really expect this book to change anyone’s life, but it actually did inspire more than a few florists and farmers to get into the idea of growing and promoting local, seasonal flowers as a counterpart to imports. My friend Debra Prinzing wrote a book called The 50-Mile Bouquet, followed by Slow Flowers: Four Seasons of Locally Grown Bouquets from the Garden, Meadow and Farm, in which she showcases weekly bouquets of seasonal flowers.
Her idea—and one that she now promotes through her organization, Slow Flowers, is that we should embrace a seasonal aesthetic for flowers, much like we do for food. Eat tomatoes in summer and pumpkins in November. Buy roses in July, when they bloom nearby, not on February 14, when they have to be flown in from South America or grown in a heated greenhouse here at home.
So right now, on her Instagram account, she’s reprising her 52 weeks of seasonal bouquets, with some updates and tweaks. Now, she lives in Seattle and she has a tiny greenhouse, so she can put together a seasonal bouquet a little more easily than someone in, say Minnesota. Still, it’s inspiring and lovely and I’ve been making some paintings and drawings based on her bouquets. (As I write this, both Portland and Seattle are buried under snow! What will she put together for next week? Stay tuned!)
Jamie Lee Curtis Has Some Good Advice For You
I finally saw Everything Everywhere All At Once, which somehow led to me reading this interview with Jamie Lee Curtis, in which she gives an excellent piece of career advice:
"It's my secret sauce. Don't go back to your trailers. Trailers are not your friend. Jonathan Wang, our producer of 'Everything Everywhere All at Once,' will tell you I never left the set. I don't believe in it." She went on to say, about her role in Knives Out, “He ended up using me in shots he wasn't going to use me in because I was on set."
So I don’t know who needs to hear this, but it’s such good career advice: Be around. Be at the place where the thing is happening. Or, as your dad probably said, 80 percent of success is showing up. And Jamie Lee Curtis, who should not have to keep proving herself, and keep fighting for screen time, has learned that this is how you get screen time.
I taught for a semester in an MFA program here in Portland, and I had a student who really wanted to be a TV comedy writer. So what was he doing in an MFA program in Portland? I told him, “Go to LA. Or New York. Or maybe Chicago. Go where the comedians and the actors are. Be around them, all the time. Work at a comedy club. Be roommates with comedians. Be the guy who will drive anybody to the airport. Be the guy who’s useful and helpful and always around.”
He didn’t go. Nobody ever takes my advice. But that Jamie Lee Curtis, she’s onto something.
Also, Ke Huy Quan’s Story Gives Me All the Feels
Speaking of Everything Everywhere All At Once, actor Ke Huy Quan speaks so movingly in this interview about how much representation matters. Here’s this great actor who plays such a challenging role—he’s at once both a fierce action hero and a sweet, lovable, funny but underappreciated husband—and he gave up acting for decades because he couldn’t get any roles. Then he saw Crazy Rich Asians and realized that there were parts for him again.
Imagine that! Imagine if Kevin Kwan hadn’t written Crazy Rich Asians. Imagine if nobody wanted to publish it. Imagine if Hollywood hadn’t been interested in the film rights. Ke Huy Quan wouldn’t have seen it. And he might still be working behind the camera, not in front of it.
What a gift this guy is. In fact, let’s enjoy a little more of his charm before we move on:
You Might Need Some of This Ink
I have too many art supplies, let’s say that up front. Lately I’ve gotten into this gorgeous Kakimori pigment ink. It’s waterproof, it works great in fountain pens, and look at these colors! Also, look at the adorable little bottles they come in! I’m using them in a Duke 209 fude nib fountain pen, which is lightweight and comes with a converter built right in, so you can draw any sort of ink into it you like.
I was inspired to try these colored inks (I have Tototo, left, and Torori, right, so far) by Virginia Hein, who does beautiful nature sketches with them. For more inspiration, I recommend her book on urban sketching, Spotlight on Nature.
Also, I am a sucker for all kinds of marketing, and could not resist Kakimori’s descriptions of these inks:
"A perfect omelette reveals its deliciously soft centre. Torori is the colour of anticipation, describing a rich consistency overflowing with flavour."
"Tototo is the gentle melody of a special rosé poured in quiet company. A colour to elevate everyday life or celebrate a special occasion."
Yes please! I’ll take the omelettes and the special rosés, and the ink.
Recommended: Notes from a Small Press runs Belt Publishing, a regional Rust Belt publishing house that publishes some remarkably interesting books. She writes a remarkably interesting newsletter about the state of the publishing world and the struggles (and joys! Sometimes there are joys!) of running a small press. is one of the few newsletters I open and read as soon as it lands in my in-box. It’s honest, funny, and very opinionated. Take a look!
What Are You Reading?
What if every possible version of your life was a book, and somewhere there was a library full of those books? Do you even want to know how things might’ve worked out if you’d gotten on that bus, skipped that class, quit that job?
The Midnight Library was a very popular novel when it came out, and I only just now got around to it. It’s about the road not taken, and the million different lives we could have lived if we’d only zigged instead of zagged. It’s charming and light-hearted and a pretty good antidote to all of my own zig-zaggy thoughts in the middle of the night.
The Stuff at the End
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