What has been good about this experiment, and what could we improve?

An idle conversation in the pub has, in just over two weeks turned into about 7,500 words, of quite varied subject matter, and thirteen beautiful illustrations.

That’s a pretty good start. And by the time today is over, it’ll be 8,000 and fourteen pictures.

And it’s going to carry on. Which is clearly the first improvement we need to make.

It’s such a simple idea, a question, an answer and a picture. It feels like genuine collaboration. Each individual part improves and builds the others. And I think the whole is quite satisfying. Knowing I’m writing for someone to illustrate makes me take more care. Having great questions, and not expecting them, leaves me having to improvise and challenges me.

And I even believe that some of the words have been quite good.

From what I understand, all the artists are enjoying it too. There’s a challenge in dealing with absurd, arbitrary deadlines and restrictions. There’s no doubt a challenge in trying to get some visual sense out of my often abstract and meandering texts.

I think we’ve got a success on our hands, at least for all of us. We are each practising our crafts, and apparently making our peers somewhat jealous.

For me, I’m loving writing again. And writing regularly, and not knowing when I wake up what I might be writing that day. And having no idea whatsoever what imagery I’m going to be gifted with on completion.

It’s building my confidence, and inspiring me with ideas for other projects.

What will improve it?

It’s hard to say. I think the main thing we need to focus on is not letting anyone get bored. This will definitely mean rotating who asks the questions, and who illustrates (eventually).

And really, I should stop being selfish and let some other people do the answering too. Although I doubt that’ll happen until I’ve got someone excellent to do it, and some other project to keep me busy myself.

But yeah. I think the challenge is to keep it exciting for everyone, and that means change has got to happen.

I think we’re going to change the questioner soon, and I’m trying to win over someone who will definitely mix up the themes a little bit.

I wonder if the illustrators should probably mix up their unwritten rules every now and then, to get themselves outside of their comfort zone with their art styles, but that’s not something I control at all.

I think it’s important to mix any changes with consistency though. I see the questioners changing weekly (but looping somewhat). Everything else is probably on a longer timescale though.

The rhythm, for me, is perfect.

A question a day, an answer and illustration in succession after.

It’s a wonderfully simple experiment, and I’m already fascinated by the results that repetition is producing.

The variables have to change sometimes though, or we aren’t testing anything.

For the curious; Unstruck is the translation of ‘Anahata’, the heart chakra. This is heart speaking.



Illustration by Adam.

Millions of thanks to Lucy, Anna-Kaisa and Adam. Particularly Anna-Kaisa for the questions. And particularly all three for the pictures.

If you want to have a go at asking the questions, you can send a personal statement (or whatever you feel might make me want to answer your questions) to me via the Ask page.

About Alabaster Crippens

Joiner of Dots. Player of Games. Unreliable Narrator. Dancing Fool.
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