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You want to write a book? My journey of writing Finding Form with Fibre



The three year journey of writing Finding Form with Fibre began during a getaway with some weaving friends. We were miles apart but came together to weave, laugh and share stories during this weekend. I wanted to celebrate these artists and their work, those who contribute to this beautiful craft and tools and techniques and fibre we can all use to weave more magic into our creative lives. A book was the perfect antidote.


The thought of compiling such a book excited me. I think the others thought I was rather bonkers! However, I was motivated by the lack of contemporary basketry books as well as my passion to infuse the craft with fresh, educational content. The aim of combining key foundational content and applying those techniques to sculptural pieces excited me and I could envision showcasing the talent of several basketry artists that I knew and hopefully would discover more.


It was a journey of commitment and community, and the journey itself reflects the heartbeat of the basketmaking community and its heritage at a global level.


As we know, one of the hardest parts of creating is taking a vision that you have and breaking that into logical, concrete actions. It almost seems sacrilegious to break a dream into parts in order to create it in reality - yet it has to be done in order to bring the vision to life!





But...how do you write a book?


Returning home, I started to delve deep into the idea, mulling it over for several months and wondering about things important to me like "How would the book be published?". The thought of surrendering creative control to a traditional publisher didn't excite me. However, I did know a couple of women who had self-published their own works who generously shared their insights and gave me some good advice and key pointers for starting.


The logistics were simply overwhelming – ISBNs, layouts, paper types, taxes  and of course publishing – the list seemed endless. And the cost was so much more than I’d thought. Yet, I felt determined with my naivety, I embarked on this daunting journey to create something I was passionate about.


Mapping out the book's structure took a while to figure out. It took time, revisions, and more revisions. But one morning I woke up with an idea on three thematic sections: Inspire, Gather, Create. A loose framework, but it provided direction and a loose structure and I got started.


Artwork Images from left to right: Zora Verona, Paula do Prado, Kylie Caldwell.


Gathering the content came next. Deciding who I wanted to invite and hoping they’d accept - which not everyone did! Showcasing their work and other images was paramount, ensuring quality photographs and turning their stories into interesting reading was a learning curve. As I was gathering, I realised the way I was collecting information wasn't the best - I had asked all the artists the same questions and many of the reply’s came back the same. I needed something different from them. So I changed tact and I asked if they had a story about their work that was a bit different, something unusual. This then communicated the beautiful connection with the artist and their art for the reader.


Artwork Images from left to right: Helle Jorgensen, Brooke Munro, Ruth Woods


On finishing the Artists section, I handed it to my graphic designer, and she worked her magic. She returned it to me and I was amazed at how brilliant it looked. I felt a big lump in my throat and believed this could really happen. If it is your dream to write a book, this is such a fantastic moment! Take time to enjoy it...your vision is coming to life!


After that moment I could still see the road ahead - there was a lot more to do.


One of the most critical pieces of advice on this long journey is to have your vision written down so you can refer to it along the way. Refer to it often. Let it be your guiding star when things are tough or life throws a curve ball...which it did...


Just when I thought I had it all figured out, COVID struck, halting progress in its tracks. You’d think it would have given me more time to work on the project, however my online workshops took off during this time, I focused on making more videos. I wanted to serve the people who needed a creative outlet during this bizarre period of isolation and broken community. My motivation started to wane with the creation of the book and doubts started to creep - those make their home with me for around twelve months.


Writing was my Mt. Everest.

On entering 2022, I really wanted to complete the journey of writing the book, so with a fresh start and renewed focus I adopted a structured approach, inspired by Jeff Fajans' creative goal-setting methods.


Ninety-minute chunks became my lifeline, inching my way towards the finish line by offering uninterrupted focus in a world of distractions. I felt I could do this - I could sit for ninety minute blocks and focus. I could achieve this three times a day with a break in between and found I got a lot of work done.


Writing proved to be my Mt. Everest. Battling self-doubt, I wrestled with words, each sentence was a battle and I’d much rather just sit and draw the illustrations. With each hurdle cleared, I’d like to say confidence blossomed, but it didn’t - I felt a heavy heart of self doubt and embarrassment -  BUT I  knew I had to finish.


The challenges persisted. Proofreading revealed a minefield of errors, despite meticulous editing. Doubt lingered, I felt family were being kind and a few friends were amazing and propped me up. I pressed on, tuning out the noise, embracing tunnel vision.


Illustrating, on the other hand, was pure joy. Hours spent hunched over a cheap lightbox from eBay - sketching intricate designs – a cathartic escape from the chaos.  


I had uplifting weekly meetings with my graphic artist - who was amazing - and the reason the book looks so good. These meetings spurred me on!


THEN, a moment of THAT'S IT!  The manuscript was ready. There was no more I could do and it was time to let go. Imperfections and all. I would like to say it was a labour of love and although I did enjoy parts of creating the book I feel it was a personal achievement of utter determination and grit.


Here it is – Finding Form with Fibre – not just a book, but a journey of resilience, creativity, and a reflection of perseverance. Doing it, and taking action - even though I felt I was totally out of my depth.


What did I learn in the process?


The book was important to complete on several levels:

  • I wanted to showcase the amazing fibre artists that are around

  • Show people who were totally unfamiliar that basket making and basket weaving is even a thing!

  • To teach foundational skills, creatives can apply to their own projects

  • And to finish something I’d started and bring it forth into reality!


One significant skill I learnt during the process was really knuckling down, complete focus, hiding myself away to work on it. It worked, once I’d told myself this was the year it was going to be completed - I did it. I have always been persistent, but this was a whole other level of dedication!


Finding Form with Fibre posting books
Books packed ready for the first batch of posting

Asking for help was a critical part of finishing. I reached out to the people around me who had the skills or knew people who had the skills. There is a big community of people with valuable expertise to support you - this work really takes a village! Proof reading, trying out the instructions and even professional photographers. I needed people who understood what I was trying to create who could capture the essence of what I was doing.


Learning the nuances of distribution to put my book onto a platform to sell my book internationally took a bit of nutting out. Again, asking for help from people who’d done it before and the excitement selling internationally was great feeling!



Ruth Woods at the National Gallery with her book
Finding my book in the shelves of the National Gallery

Even after the wild ride of of completing the book the journey did not stop there! I had to start to market it - creating a marketing plan on where it should be sold and how. I started by giving away free copies so galleries and bookshops so they could see what the book was and what it was about. It all worked pretty well and sales are still going strong - a steady flow of orders through my website and increasing wholesale orders from big galleries - this is really exciting!


It has only been since my book is for sale at many major public gallery’s, bookshops and numerous retailers in Australia and globally and that Finding Form with Fibre is self published my confidence has grown! Where I used to feel embarrassed I now feel a sense of pride and satisfaction within myself for the journey I have been on.



Winner of The Creative Book Awards 2023

One of the affirming things that happened was winning The Creative Book Awards 2023 - this was very exciting!


I am SO appreciative of all of you who have purchased the book - you too are part of this journey! It is my dream that you explore this beautiful craft and are inspired by the artists who you find in the pages of the book. 🌿🥰


AND now, I actually feel that I can start another journey and compile a second book.



To all those embarking on their own creative odyssey, remember – the journey may be fraught with challenges, but the destination is oh-so worth it.


This was a transformational journey. Would you like to start your own?


GO AND WRITE YOUR BOOK. 📖💓


I will be cheering you on every step of the way...



The book can be bought through my website if you're in Australia retail and wholesale.

You can purchase it through online bookstores (not just Amazon) and if you're a retailer outside of Australia you can purchase it through Ingramspark.


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3 Comments


Guest
Apr 11

First, I love the book (and your online courses)! And, I would love to hear more about how you self-published. I have been thinking about writing a book for a few years now, but the process seems so overwhelming. I would particularly like to know the program/software you used. Thanks, Ruth.

Nikki Wagner

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Replying to

Hi Nikki - thanks for your lovely comments. it certainly is a big journey and I'm happy to share. I'm hoping to put together some detailed notes on the matter - but if you'd like to email me feel free to ask some questions. Ruth

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Guest
Apr 10

What an incredible journey Ruth! I am looking forward the new book you are planning 💓 Finding Form with Fibre is a book that have referred to a lot.

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