Monday, January 8, 2018.
Last month, I was speaking at Girls in Tech event in Jakarta about how to use technology to make art. There was one particular question asked by an audience I found pretty interesting. She asked, “What are the things you give up to make more time to make art?”
“I give up social media,” I said–and everyone in the room let out miserable sounds.
I have lessened the time I spent on social media significantly, especially these past few weeks when I was busy working on the book, and preparing the pre-order and launch at the same time. I realized that I haven’t really checked my social media for quite some time; apart from a few minutes a day to check work-related stuff. I haven’t posted a lot of updates, except liking some posts or sharing bits from here and there.
But I am happy. Sure, I missed some of my friends’ updates (I convinced myself that they would understand)–however, I feel satisfied knowing that I have made time to work on something close to my heart.
Break, Hearts. And Be Alright is not the kind of book I have long imagined to write about (I dreamed of novels). But this book, in a way, is very personal and playful: this is just me, talking to you, about nursing a heartbreak. I intend this book to be a somewhat fun personal project–something light and airy, something like a writing warm-up.
However, throughout the process, everything flows naturally; and even to some extent: magically.
For instance, 3 weeks ago, I was thinking about finding a book designer to help me with the book cover. I didn’t know who to contact or where to find one. I didn’t know if there would be someone in particular who could translate the concept I have in mind into the cover design. I was thinking that in a few days, I could ask some recommendations from my friends who work in publishing.
This is the really strange thing: the next day, I got an email. A sales email, actually. An introduction from a design company called Sukutangan, telling me that they are specializing in designing book covers. They sent along their portfolios and rate card. I opened their portfolio and found some design concepts I like.
On the same day, I replied to their email saying that I wanted to work with them. What should I do next?
They replied in a few hours, and that day, it was confirmed that they’d be working on the book cover.
What’s even more magical was when they came up with the concept for the cover design:
For this cover, we play with a concept we learn from Japan–“kintsukuroi”, an art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. This technique resonates deeply with us when we read an excerpt of this book, as Hanny wrote eloquently about how sadness often comes with the pain of broken heart, but eventually something good will grow. Light will shine through. The scar will show, often obviously, but rather than concealing it, how about making something pure out of it–as the late Carrie Fisher once wrote, “Take your broken heart, make it into art.”– @sukutangan
I have always been in love with the philosophy behind “kintsukuroi” the first time I heard about it, but it never crossed my mind to have this Japanese art as the concept of my book cover. I also have never thought of the book that way, but came to think about it, it is more or less true: the playbook gives you a chance to write and draw your heartbreak, turning it into art.
Wednesday, December 27, 2017.
The idea for this book has been around for almost a year.
I didn’t remember when it was brewing for the first time, but it came to me with more clarity when I was learning how to make illustrations.
One day, I posted a doodle I made on Instagram, accompanied by a text about dealing with loss and heartbreak. I was surprised to know that it resonated with a lot of people.
That was when the format for this book formed in my mind.
The first thing I did was letting it sit for a while, to know whether I was going to lose interest or not (as usual). But the idea and the excitement stays. I started creating an outline of how the book would be structured, what would be the best format to get my idea across, and how it would also channel my passion for drawing illustrations.
I think the most challenging part was creating the outline.
This book resulted from my experiences in dealing with many heartbreaks, many times in life. To accept things, to understand my feelings, and to move on, I use writing–as my primary channel of expression.
So, I have a lot of journal entries from my previous heartbreaks. Flipping through them, I could see the way I processed my feelings: my anger, sadness, regret, and disappointment–to the point where I found myself to be okay. To accept the fun of being single, and even, later on, to open my heart to a new love interest.
The thing is, there was no particular pattern. My journal was more of a collection of chaotic thoughts, feelings, sentiments, and memories on tear-stained pages. I needed to go through my messy journal and emotional process to find some structure.
I struggled with the outline of the book for about four months. I tried to find out how I can best share my emotional process and my experiences in nurturing my heartbreaks. Once I found the structure, something that flows more or less nicely from A to Z, only then I started writing.
No. To be exact, I started talking.
I am talking my chapters out, and later on, transcribing it.
I want to transfer the feeling of having a friend comforting you.
Talking the chapters out gives me more freedom to be spontaneous. To not concentrating on editing things, or making things sound beautiful. It’s just me talking to you. Or maybe, it’s just me, talking to my heartbroken-self, many years ago.
I love the process.
It brought back a lot of feelings, emotions, and memories of my previous heartbreaks. It made me feel grateful for the things I’ve been going through, for where I am at the moment.
For knowing that I can still love, and can love even more–precisely because my heart knows that it is designed to break. That’s how I learn how to love. That’s how we learn how to love.
Tuesday, December 26, 2017.
I believe in the saying that one should write the book one wants to read. And this is the kind of book I wish to have when I was nursing my heartbreaks.
Those were the times when I want to be comforted but not wanting to go out to meet anyone. Those were the times when I want to spill my secrets, feelings, and darkest thoughts but couldn’t be 100% honest when I have to confide in someone else. Moreover, those were the times when I simply needed a more positive outlook: something that can keep me somewhat productive while being sad.
This book is the result.
I write this book to serve as a non-judgemental confidant for you: a book that will simply be there for you, while your heart is trying to heal.