Interview (& Reading) on The Interruption

Discover Canadian Books, Authors, Book Lists and More on 49thShelf.comeA couple of weeks ago, I had a chat with Sean Cranbury, who seems to be involved with almost everything related to books in Vancouver. He has a podcast called Books on the Radio, and has been collaborating with the Canadian book blog 49th Shelf to create a podcast called The Interruption.

In the interview, we talked about how Make It Mighty Ugly came to be, about the weekend when I pulled my hair out while writing it, and about the book tour in October.

Sean also asked me to read from the book. It was my first time ever reading from something I’ve written, and I was very grateful for my copyeditor, who while editing the manuscript put a note in to indicate a section she thought would be great for readings. Without her, I’d have had no idea how to choose, and I’d have been intensely nervous. Instead, I was like, “I got this.”

Listen to the interview and reading over at 49th Shelf!

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Longshot Radio on Creativity and Failure

Last week, on a whim, I pitched a story to some radio people who were putting together a whole show in just 48 hours. In conjunction with the brilliant public-radio show Radiolab and the 99% Conference in New York City, Longshot Radio was exploring the topic of creativity, revision and failure. If Mighty Ugly’s not about that, I don’t know what it’s about.

To my surprise and delight, I ended up working with a Radiolab producer on the piece I wrote and recorded in less than 24 hours. It was an honour to be part of such a smart and ambitious project, and downright awesome to have my piece included in the final show.

Here it is:

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Welcome, Today Show fans!

Shoshana is simply beside herself after seeing her ugly mug on Today Show style editor Bobbie Thomas’s blog this morning!

Bobbie put out a call last week for DIY (do-it-yourself) projects involving upcycling – using materials that might otherwise be thrown out, and using them in new and interesting ways.

Here’s the email I sent her and her producers, which will also sum up the project for you:

Hi Bobbie and The Today Show,

A couple of months ago I started a project that’s a lovely compliment to upcycling old stuff into new stuff. It’s called Mighty Ugly, and the gist is that you take a couple of hours and some supplies that would otherwise end up in the trash, and you make a totally hideous creature. Why? Because we put so much pressure on ourselves to create beautiful (cute, pretty, attractive) things, and that pressure can be totally paralyzing.

By using scraps, we remove any inclination we may have to consider our materials precious. By making something ugly, we challenge our general crafty mindset but also set ourselves free – which is especially awesome for people who don’t consider themselves crafty in the first place.

There’s no pattern, and you can use any materials you want. Just make an ugly creature. It’s pretty amazing that almost everyone who’s taken one of my workshops ends up saying they’ll keep their ugly creature. The people who come in saying they’re intimidated by making stuff leave with a spring in their step, and the crafty people overcome feeling threatened and end up feeling inspired.

You can see some examples and hear some stories from crafty people at Attached is a photo of Shoshana, the mascot of the project.

Thanks for your consideration!


Take a look around the site, and set aside a couple of hours to make something ugly. Then take some photos and drop us a line and tell us about your experience. We bet a hundred ugly crocheted scarves you’ll enjoy yourself, or at the very least you’ll think about crafting from a new perspective.

Keep up with people’s stories and our musings by subscribing to this blog, or by following us on Twitter and/or Facebook.

If you live in the Vancouver, BC, area, we’ll be starting up with workshops again in September.

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Mighty Ugly on CBC Vancouver News

Shoshana nearly had a heart attack last Friday when she received an hour’s notice before local CBC online and interactive reporter Theresa Lalonde showed up at our house with a charming cameraman. Thankfully she has a policy never to primp, or she wouldn’t have had time to get ready. I, on the other hand, do primp. It was a frenzy.

Also? It was hilarious and fun. And kinda cool to be on the evening news a mere three days after we launched this project. As I told my grandmother to her delight, we didn’t even have to get arrested.

CBC doesn’t allow you to embed their videos (silly CBC), but you can watch the two-minute clip here (hopefully it won’t disappear in a few days). And After you’ve watched the clip, send some happy vibes to Theresa for creating one of the few crafts-related news segments I’ve ever seen that didn’t diminish the topic with cutesy back-handed compliments or cliches. And more than that, she totally grokked it, so if you’re a little confused about what Mighty Ugly is, watching the clip should clear some things up.

(Note: There is no contest, and it’s not about knitting.)

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