H. B. Anderson Writing

freelance writing and blogging

Each human life is a unique and unprecedented existence- every person woven by materials, experiences, and settings that are altogether new and unrivaled.

Just reflect on that. People have similarities, of course; they may even have the same blood. But even so, each human’s design, genetic code, and social construction is unlike any other’s. Some may argue that there are no unique humans because there are no unique character traits- this argument means practically nothing in the end. Sure, there are universally acknowledged traits such as agreeableness, creativity, mechanical instincts, athletic abilities, and many more. However, this does not take away from the fact that character traits always come in unique combinations and styles. Why? Because no one else is you! No one else is shaped by your own experiences- academic, social, and familial. No one else knows precisely how your gifts influence your life or how your weaknesses hold you back in certain areas.

Along with your “you” traits come an impressive variety of life stories. Talk to an older man or woman for any length of time, and you find this out rather quickly. You learn that their stories and recollections are a vital part of what makes them individuals! It’s necessary and beneficial for them to tell their stories from life. When I hear stories told by my pappy or other older people I know, I feel wonder at these tales from a different era. I feel interested in learning more about their families, careers, and love for specific hobbies. Often I wish I would come up with more questions ahead of time when I talk to these important people in my life.

Every person you walk by on the street has a story within themselves; writers are no exception. They just usually experience stories in a much different way. I guess you could say that stories work overtime for them. This is because these particular types of individuals thrive by expressing themselves with the written word. Fiction writers exercise their imagination and inspiration by creating stories from scratch and by reading other wonderful stories in the process. Investigative or informative writers exercise their curiosity by research, interview, and/or reflection. Poets and songwriters exercise their emotions through rhyme and/or purposeful paragraph construction. One thing sets these people apart: the way their minds gravitate towards these expressions and the need to just sit down and spill their thoughts, feelings, and creations on paper.

You see, dedicated writers take their stories seriously. They bake their stories like a master chef, intricately checking the ingredients and facets of their tale until they’re just right. They walk, talk, and think in intriguing fiction scenarios, accessing the depths and heights of their creativity. They study their characters and get to know them one-on-one. What are their likes or dislikes? Do they have any virtues? What about flaws or mistakes? They mold new plots, new adventures, and new meanings that live on in their writing. These are who storytellers are.

When we think back, how many of the works that impacted us were mere stories in their rawest forms?

A story can be widespread and era-changing, such as Charles Dickens’s novels of hardship and perseverance. Dickens specifically tailored his work for the times, with a mission to introduce readers to the reality of London’s orphans and the poverty that they underwent. A story can also be as poetic and philosophical as an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel, detailing the shallow life of Mr. Jay Gatsby and the hollowness of vain riches. Stories can also be as romantic and humorous as a Jane Austen novel, shining a light on characters’ many differences, silly antics, and touches of sarcasm. Or, perhaps, it could be the simple writing of an obscure blogger or author you happen to stumble upon that said things to make you think and sigh in agreement. How many of these works began as a simple idea? I’ll let you in on something: all of them! Even if you do not delve into the classics, most of your favorite Hulu or Netflix shows have a writer inspired by a mere story they wished to express.

A storyteller’s goal is to paint a precise and vibrant picture with words. They write because they have something to say. They write because they yearn to make people smile, laugh, cry, think, and feel all the range of ethos, pathos, and logos that are out there.

Stories push us forward in action over our own lives.

When we read J. R. R. Tolkien or C. S. Lewis novels filled with adventure, don’t you want to grab a suitcase and go on one, as well? When you read political thrillers, don’t you feel some urge to change or bring about justice? When you read a Jane Austen romance, don’t you notice your heart tugged and your vocabulary widened? These things change us and give us a range of living we would not have if we did not pursue stories. One of my favorite quotes is by George R. R. Martin, who says, “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.” What an accurate quote when compared to the reality of being a writer and a reader.

Stories bring people together.

The amount of times I’ve bonded with people over loving the same stories is ridiculous. Think about it- shows, movies, magazines, books- they all have a writer behind them.

Stories allow us to appreciate or make sense of the beautiful, meaningful, difficult, and comedic.

Had a tough week? Perhaps you need to take an evening and escape into a land where there are no bills on the table, no difficult personal problems to solve, or no one demanding your utmost attention or services. There are times and places for these adult realities, but there are also moments where sweet peace are needed, and it is my wholehearted opinion that there is nothing better than a bubble bath and a good plotline to enjoy at the end of a long week. The books, music, and shows you choose will have a profound impact on your perception of life, let alone reading and storytelling! The right stories and authors allow us to become invested in a new world unlike our own, and it will change us inevitably for the better. These worlds are crafted by adventurous, romantic, beautiful, comedic word combinations. And if you play your cards right- you might just be fortunate enough to find a new favorite author that you can take with you throughout life.

What I always tell students is, “if you do not like books, then you probably have not found the genre for you yet! Keep looking, and you will be amazed.” If you don’t like reading with your eyeballs, maybe try audiobooks. I have learned so much more and get more done around the house when I have an audiobook going. (Not sponsored by Audible, but if you like me, Audible, hit me up.)

This week, here is your call to action…

  • Be more aware of all the different creative writings that you soak in from your entertainment. Think about what it took to write these shows, books, blogs, or articles.
  • Think about your relationship to storytelling. How can you better incorporate quality writing into your life? (Hint: some stories are worth your time, and some stories are not).
  • If reading is unrealistic in your schedule, look at all of the unique options on Audible, or perhaps find some reliable blogs that you enjoy.


2013 (Copyright 2011) A Dance with Dragons, by George R. R. Martin, Series: A Song of Ice and Fire, Quote Page 495, (Mass Market Paperback), Bantam Books: An Imprint of Random House Publishing Group. (Amazon Look Inside)

The Pilgrims Progress is an allegorical narrative written by John Bunyan about the Christian’s formative walk to heaven through this life. There are many experiences that the main character “Christian” is forced to undertake. Each experience is providential, purposeful, and molds him in his sanctifying journey. Two experiences that are written about are of clear importance and lead the way for the rest of Bunyan’s message: “Christian Sets Out for the Celestial City” and “The Slough of Despond (96-97)”. These scenes are the bulwark of Christian’s conversion and the spring that pushes him onward in his journey.

In Steven Greenblatt’s The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Restoration and the Eighteenth Century, the scene “Christian Sets Out for the Celestial City” appropriately relays these words, “I looked then, and saw a man named Evangelist coming to him, who asked, Wherefore dost thou cry? (Job xxxiii23). He answered, Sir, I perceive by the book in my hand that I am condemned to die, and after that to come to judgment (Hebrew ix.27), and I find that I am not willing to do the first (Job xvi21), nor able to do the second (Ezekiel xxii.14)….(97).” Christian is speaking of the conviction that follows God’s prodding the sinner’s heart unto repentance. Christian knew a change needed to occur, but how and through what means? 

This is where the Evangelist steps in with the gospel truth. This truth proclaims that all fall short of the glory of God, which leads to just judgement. Although God, in his perfect love made a way for those who believe and trust in Him to be snatched out of this impending judgement in hell, by providing His Son to be the sacrifice needed to atone, give restoration between God and man, and eternal life in heaven. Christian continues speaking and seeking the counsel of Evangelist, who graciously lends an ear and adds his wisdom. This exchange between the two goes on as such:

“Then says Evangelist, If this be thy condition, why standest thou still? He answered, Because I know not whither to go. Then he gave him a parchment roll, and there was written within, “Fly from the wrath to come” (Matthew iii.7)…So I saw in my dream that the man began to run. Now, he had not run far from his own door, but his wife and children perceiving it, began to cry after him to return; but the man put his fingers in his ears, and ran on, crying, Life! Life! eternal life! (Luke xix.26 (Greenblatt 97)).”

This is the exciting gospel message taking root in Christian’s heart. He has now repented and believed and must follow the call of Christ. Note that Bunyan was not speaking of a man converting to Christianity and (then in literal language) leaving his family. Since this is an allegory, Bunyan is more likely stating that Christian’s family was concerned about his conversion, begging him not to go on. Yet, the converted man did not listen and persisted in this new change of belief and mission. 

This joyous moment for Christian is followed by a more solemn scene. This is the scene of “The Slough of Despond (Greenblatt 99)”.  At this point, Christian is going on his way with a friend named Pliable (99). Their journey is interrupted by a very muddy patch in front of them, which they both fearfully fell into (99). Pliable immediately bent under the pressure, hence his characteristic name. Once Pliable was out of the Slough of Despond, he turned around and headed back to where he came from (99). Christian was left alone in the slough to persevere until Help came to his aid (99). This illustration is used widely throughout the culture as an exhortation and encouragement to Christians. Bunyan was certainly talking about the periods of drudgery that come along with the Christian walk, especially in the beginning periods of their belief. This may be struggles of unbelief, There are two reactions present within this excerpt: the urge to turn around and falter in faith and the God-sustaining power to push on through the despond. 

Christian goes onto other triumphs and challenges within the book. All the while leading up to the ultimate celebration- the joyous entry to the Celestial City (symbolizing heaven).

Within the writing of John Bunyan, explored within Steven Greenblatt’s The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Restoration and the Eighteenth Century there are important theological lessons and practical applications that modern-day Christians must hold fast to. The Christian walk must not be a luke-warm existence, yet an ever-deepening exploration of our journey  unto the Celestial City. This requires the utmost dedication, dependence, and counter-cultural love for God, who saved them from their deserved judgment. 

Works Cited

Greenblatt, Stephen. The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Restoration and the Eighteenth Century. New York, N.Y: W.W. Norton & Co, 2012. Print.

This is in essay written for my University of the Cumberlands “English Literature” class a few months ago. My father always delighted in the book Pilgrim’s Progress, so I happily wrote this essay for my teacher. Since then, I’ve added a line or two, mostly to tie in its concluding theme.

As readers acquaint themselves with the writing of Jonathan Swift through his book Gulliver’s Travels, they are introduced to the writing style of a man deeply interested in history, politics, and keeping society accountable. When reading this book without the cultural and historical knowledge of Swift’s period or from a simple outsider in his day and age, one may think that it was only an elaborate and fictional tale with no meaning. This conclusion is entirely unfounded, and, through careful study, readers find that Jonathan Swift’s s Gulliver’s Travels is a tale calling out everyone and everything he can from real-life events: the everyday man, the powerful, his home country, and international relations, using satire.  

One such example of Swift’s subtle political and geographical ribbing reads, “when in an instant I felt above an hundred arrows discharged on my left hand, which pricked me like so many needles; and besides they shot another flight into the air, as we do bombs in Europe (Swift 285).” These simple six words at the end of the sentence pack a potent punch, especially considering how true these observations rang to Smith’s audience.  

In another excerpt, Jonathan Swift pokes fun at the modern man’s slavery to time writing of the natives finding a watch in Gulliver’s pocket,  

He put this engine to our ears, which made an incessant noise like that of a watermill. And we conjecture it is either some unknown animal, or the god that he worships: but we are more inclined to the latter opinion, because he assured us (if we understood him right, for he expressed himself very imperfectly), that he seldom did any thing without consulting it. He called it his oracle, and said it pointed out the time for every action of his life (Swift 294).  

By pointing out the natives’ outside perspective on Gulliver’s use of a standard pocket watch, Swift took something that everyday individuals could relate to and pointed out the common folly of its idolized use.  

Swift’s use of satire was sometimes much more subtle and required his readers to do their own research or knowledge into both his written intent and current events. One portion of text follows this pattern of satire closely, “I was assured, that a year or two before my arrival, Flimnap would have infallibly broke his neck, if one of the King’s cushions, that accidentally lay on the ground, had not weakened the force of his fall (Swift 296).” This text, if glanced at, seems to only carry along the storyline of the intricate lives and social order of the Lilliput. However, Swift is speaking of George I’s lover who is said to have aided Walpole’s return to public life in 1721 (Greenblatt, et al 296). The use of this satirical addition was to acknowledge, with others, the obviousness of these current events and to challenge its morality or authority.  

This leads to one last excerpt being examined. Swift writes a few pages later, “I had sent so many memorials and petitions for my liberty that his Majesty at length mentioned the matter first in the cabinet, and then in a full council; where it was opposed by none, except Skyresh Bolgolam, who was pleased, without any provocation, to be my mortal enemy (Swift 299). When specifically looking for satire within Swift’s work, this line sticks out even to the untrained eye. The character Skyresh Bolgolam was based on a real person, the earl of Nottingham, who did not take kindly to Swift (Greenblatt, et al 298). 

In every account of satirical usage, Swift’s words hold a purpose. He continually uses words to tastefully show the fault of society, while pushing his fellow men and women to change their own irony, as well. Gulliver’s Travels, on the outside, may seem a story of pure fiction, but Jonathan Swift’s true meaning and message still press on, even generations after him. 

Works Cited

Swift, Jonathan. “Gulliver’s Travels” The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Restoration and the Eighteenth Century, edited by M. H. Abrams, Stephen Greenblatt, James Noggle, James Simpson, Jon Stallworthy, Jack Stillinger, Carol T. Christ, and Lawrence Lipking, W. W. Norton & Company Ltd., 2018, pp. 278-322.

This essay was an assignment for my college the University of the Cumberlands, but I enjoyed it so much that I wished to share it with my readers 🙂 This lesson of necessary (and carefully constructed) satire continues to this day.

While many are off slaving away at work at this ripe time of 12:52 PM on a Tuesday, I am at home contemplating the single most important question ever asked of the millennia, “If I could invite anyone dead or alive to attend a dinner party with me at my humble abode, who would it be?” This great question plagues my thoughts both day and night. I wake up in a cold sweat thinking about this topic. When I go to write research papers for school, all I can bring myself to do is write the names of these famous celebrities.

Not at all being sarcastic.

So, to give me a semblance of rest and to officially “bury the hatchet,” I decided to say my piece on the matter, only because I knew those who read my blog are just craving to know this life-changing information. This time, I’m writing the “classic author edition” of this question, as there are many deserving authors I’d like to sit with at my table. 

So, who would I have over if they dared accept the invitation? Well, I will tell you.

I have but one worry! I honestly don’t think my kitchen is big enough for this!

F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Fitzgerald

F. Scott Fitzgerald is the renowned author of The Great Gatsby, a tale of great riches and equally great emptiness. Through Fitzgerald’s descriptive and flowery language, as well as his thoughtful use of characters and storyline, he uses symbolism to paint a broader meaning to every reader of his books. With The Great Gatsby set in the early 1920s, you get a real taste for the decadence of this age.

If you research Mr. F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda, you quickly realize they are quite the characters themselves! Not everyone realizes that Zelda was an author, as well. 

I would like to meet these “larger than life” people to see and interact with these larger-than-life historical and literature icons. I hear so many tales about them, which leads me to wonder what is true and what is fiction. Are they always as wild as the documentaries and books make them out to be? Or are these socialites down-to-earth people when around more polite company?

During our dinner party, I would most likely ask Fitzgerald about his writing process and how he worked through the pain of rejection so many times. I know from research that his process was not perfect, and he struggled with many things in his adult life, especially alcoholism. Did he try to work past this? What lessons did he learn throughout these times, or did he go unchanged? These are more the questions of the inner life of Mr. Fitzgerald, as many other sources paint the outer life while neglecting the latter.

Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens is the author of great classics such as David CopperfieldOliver TwistThe Tale of Two CitiesThe Christmas Carol, and much more if you wish to do the extra research. His books came at a time when London’s poor were roaming the streets and filling the factories. Orphans were rampant and so were the children forced to work in cruel and unsafe factories. This practice was widely accepted, which did not settle well with Dickens. He worked in one such factory as a child, so Dickens’ work was an act of “humanizing” the poor. He made the streets a reality for many who had no clue the severity of circumstances outside their doors.

During our dinner, I assume Dickens would be very witty, considering the jokes and sarcasm found within his book. My husband Ben and my father would get along well with Dickens in this aspect. Maybe he would come up with his famous nicknames for each one of us, based off of some silly characteristic or personality trait that we possess. (For reference, Dickens’s characters many times had very unique names created by the author like Fezzwig or Scrooge or even the mean Master Creakle and Murdstone. There are many more humorous ones if you pay careful attention while reading his novels.

My favorite story of Dickens’ is his novel David Copperfield, a character based on Dickens’s own life. I know usually it’s frowned upon to suggest this, but watch the BBC David Copperfield before reading the book. It will make you love the book ten times more while explaining some of the more complicated themes. After this, your motivation for reading the book is increased, too. 

Charlotte Bronte

Charlotte Bronte is the author known for writing Jane Eyre, a story I loved even in elementary. My dad would watch the older black and white movie with me, and the twists and turns of Bronte’s novel captured my attention even after multiple times watching. When I got older, I started reading these books that I only knew from movies. 

What interests me most about Charlotte Bronte and other women writers in this period of history is their sheer perseverance to keep writing. They were authors in an era that scoffed at women writers and did not take them seriously. Usually, they had to print under male names. If I were so honored to have Charlotte Bronte attend this fictitious dinner party, I would ask her billions of questions to find out how exactly she accomplished publishing and all the creative hoops she had to jump through to get there. I would also ask about the symbolism behind Jane Eyre, as there are some conflicting ideas about it in literature communities. Authorial intent is the way we should aim to view books.

C. S. Lewis

I would invite C. S. Lewis to the mix not only because he is the wonderful author of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, but because he accomplished wonders in authoring books for Christianity after going from a complete atheist to a Christian in adulthood. Mere ChristianityA Grief Observed, and Screwtape Letters are a few of his other books. He also sounds like a fun and humorous character, at least from the documentaries I’ve watched about him. 

His group of writer friends that he met with (including J. R. R. Tolkein) to just have fun and create together sound a lot like me and my friend Joanna on a much less famed scale. If C. S. Lewis came to my dinner party, I’d expect he’d wear his classic button-down vest and probably make jokes and insightful little tidbits the entire night. I suspect he’d also want a cup of tea while he was there, which he was known to like.

Louisa May Alcott

I tried my hardest not to include this author, just because I know I’ve talked about her timeless other times. Alas! Here she is. How could I NOT invite her over when her novel Little Women impacted my life immensely as a child? In fifth grade, I read the book from cover to cover. My parents can attest to this since they caught me reading into the wee hours of the night while I envisioned Jo, Laurie, Meg, Amy, and Beth on all their glorious adventures. 

Louisa May Alcott not only sparks curiosity because she created worlds that make her readers curl up in a comforting little ball by the fireplace- she sparks curiosity because of her life and unique views. The Alcott family were Transcendentalists. Transcendentalism was a belief in the Enlightenment era (affecting society from the 17th to the 19th century), which seems very attractive on the outside but holds views that I do not align with as they go against a consistent interpretation of the Bible. Anyway, it’d still be super interesting to talk to her about these views and hear all they entail. Ralph Waldo Emerson was even friends with Alcott’s father. It’d be interesting to discover what everyday life for the Alcotts was like.

At the end of our night…

I would say my adieus. These authors played an enormous part in my life, in countless other everyday little ol’ readers’ lives, and in societal development. By connecting with someone else’s writing in such a way, you are bonded uniquely with them. What a beautiful gift that one person can bestow to another- the gift of understanding and appreciation.

All of us need to remember that these authors were just people. They were people doing what they loved to do, creating worlds and painting a canvas of words unto those who wished to witness their art. Because of those who persevere in writing, we can live more lives than we ever could have otherwise by simply opening a book.

In my closing note:

There are people out there today that have the potential to be the next F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, the next Charles Dickens and Charlotte Bronte, the next C. S. Lewis and Louisa May Alcott. They can become the next classic author if only they continue writing and believe enough in the purpose of their work. 

The Weeping Willow’s wisdom

It itself did not possess

But yet, the wisdom of the people

Who took shelter in its breadth 

He saw couple after couple

That carved their names in his bark

He’d see young and old with stories untold

That would rest below his arch

In his years, he’d seen writers

Who would adopt that sacred spot

To search their hearts for words of art

To undo their broken plot

He’d also seen proposals

Seen the love in people’s eyes

Who were willing to keep another flawed human

To cherish them through life

So, yes

This Weeping Willow was wise with many years behind

But his wisdom was not the result of years

But of lessons learned from different lives

I’d say “long-time-no-see” is an understatement in regards to my return to the blogging world. “But, Hannah! We forgot you even existed.” Ah, that’s what they all say. If you’re at all curious, though, please read on to the prolific wandering of my thought processes at work. If you’re new here, hello! Sometimes sarcasm is my second language.

To be fairly honest with you, my love for writing and my trepidation for finding the next “perfect blog post” was a consistent war before my few-month hiatus from blogging. During this time, I came to the terms that not every post I release onto my blog has to be the perfect theme, the perfect style, or the perfect anything. It doesn’t have to fit together like a well-thought through puzzle every single time. And to be quite transparent, sometimes I’ll hit the nail on the head…other times I’ll learn trying.

What resulted from this time of reflection was the quite obvious conclusion that I can offer a quick and thoughtful post by sharing my newest photography or simple journal posts on what’s new in my life as a freelancer and newly-wed college student, and have it be just as scintillating as any other form of creation. My point being, I don’t have to do some essay-like production every time my fingers grace a keyboard. I think it’s more organic to do otherwise. It’s more real. My life and my writing is all about change, and it’s all about finding my way over time.

So to prevent the enabling of my abismal perfectionist habits, and to also prevent myself from further writer’s block- I’m coming up with better ways of categorizing the blog. One section may be designated for my personal everyday reflections, one for interesting anecdotal topics on history, and maybe a “book corner” for reviews or current reads. Because when it comes down to it, I write because I love writing. Whatever stage fright type of stupidity is going on will come to an end with effort. There are all sorts of solutions I can come to. I want certain segments that people can expect of me, and maybe a schedule in the future.

We’re all learning as writers, aren’t we? Why would continue to deny that process? It’s not like these experiences are solely unique to us and our situation.

Anyways, you lovely specimens, I’m glad to be back. I value the little corner of the internet that this is and hope you stick around for the ride. Thanks for reading. There will be more to come, I promise.


H. B. Anderson

Welcome to the first ever “small business spotlight” featured on H. B. Anderson Writing! Small businesses are a subject I am passionate about, making this segment a welcome addition to my other writings. Small Business Spotlight will only feature my tried-and-true personal favorite small businesses whom I want be recognized and celebrated as the unique entities that they are. They are meant to give you a good introduction or a deeper look at the business in spotlight.

Our first small business spotlight focuses on Salty Jo Art which sells art in many forms! Salty Jo Art is a creative business that opened in 2020 specializing in custom stickers, skate decks, longboard decks, and prints that can be found on http://www.saltyjoart.com . “Skate decks and illustrations” is how Joanna Bookamer sums up her business’ focus on the website’s home page (Salty Jo Art, 2020). It takes mere seconds of observation to become impressed with the wide range of ability and imagination showcased in Joanna’s portfolio page. You get much more than bargained for by purchasing from this Ringling Art School-attended artist.

In this slideshow, you will see many creations by Joanna, herself. Most pictures are products on her site http://www.saltyjoart.com or pictures from her Instagram @saltyjo.art and others are pictures from her large and growing portfolio. (And, if you look closely in this slideshow, you will see my very own custom-made Salty Jo Volkswagen longboard). All of my likes and interests were included on my board: ukuleles, dachshunds, cats, the colors yellow, orange & blue, and the ocean.

Salty Jo Art offers free shipping on most of their products, as well as timely and friendly service. Custom orders are welcomed! Bounce some ideas off of Joanna or describe your ideal vision to her for any of your art needs.

During this first segment, I had the pleasure of interviewing the artist behind it all! Let’s recall the interview, shall we?

Hannah: Joanna, I’m delighted to write this article today and shine the spotlight on one of my all-time-favorite creative businesses! It’s nice to have the opportunity to interview you in a more serious and formal light as we explore some of the inspirations behind your art and the processes by which you work. It’s not everyday that I get to make a blog post with one of my closest friends, so I know we are going to have fun with it! First off, Joanna, what is the sole mission behind Salty Jo Art? What do you specialize in?

Joanna: Originally, Salty Jo was started because I wanted to make a living doing what I enjoy. At the job I was working before, I felt like I was going nowhere fast, so I finally just quit and opened up and online shop/gallery. I love to draw and paint and create, and people seem to enjoy seeing what I come up with. I figured if God’s given me these hands and this head, I want to use them. I want to be excited to get up in the morning, and trust that income will be provided.

Lately, I’ve gotten a lot of requests for stickers and custom portrait paintings, but I also sell painted longboard and skateboard decks, as well as illustration prints.

Hannah: What better way to go about life than to pursue your God-given talents! I especially love how you emphasized that it is God that ultimately will provide for you while you do your work, Joanna. That shows that desire to work until God, not just humans.

Now I know there are a lot of questions in the psychology community concerning the nature vs. nurture debate. This particular debate analyzes how the influences of environment affect them vs. the genes that they were born with. I’m going to indulge these questions for one second and ask a few questions about where exactly you noticed your love for art originate.

Was your environment something that played a part in your artistic abilities? If so, who particularly encouraged or influences you in this way? Or was it perhaps natural inclination, practice, or a little bit of both? Did you always want to become an artist?

Joanna: Yeah, trusting God was a long internal conversation that I needed before I was able to let go and quit my job.

Growing up, my sisters and I read a lot of picture books, watched a ton of cartoons, and played make-believe every second in between. We were constantly using our imaginations, so drawing was just a natural outlet. My mom has a folder somewhere of my drawings, and likes to remind me of the little stories I would illustrate before I could even write. My family very much had a role in directing my interest, whether or not they’re aware of it. And there were also a few select teachers over the years who encouraged me and made me feel potential.

Hannah: So very interesting. It think there is a famous Pablo Picasso quote that is very applicable here, “All children are artists. The problem is how to remain one once he grows up.” I think this very much is the case for many individuals.

And, Joanna, in particular…what you said about teachers is very relatable, as well. I, for one, never even considered the possibility of becoming a writer until certain teachers encouraged me to. This goes to show the responsibility that everyday encouragement and influence can have on us as we grow throughout our lives.

Joanna, you mentioned that you paint longboard and skateboard decks. Did the desire to do this stem from your own experience longboarding and skateboarding? When did you begin? Also, what particular methods/inspiration are needed while painting these decks?

Joanna: I think I’ve always looked on skateboarders in awe. I admire the skill and nonchalant attitude of skaters in general. I spent a year at Ringling College of Art and Design, and that year was very lonely for me. I ended up watching skate clips and ‘how to’ videos to pass the time, and eventually bought a longboard. Painting it made sense- I kind of marked it as my own. And then I thought, ‘you know, I wouldn’t mind doing this for a living,’ which is also when the idea of SaltyJo started to form.

As far as inspiration, I don’t really have it down to a formula. Looking at other people’s art helps to get excited about a project. Sometimes I’ll leaf through my sketchbooks to see if I want to turn a doodle into a painting. Also, I’ve learned that I can’t just crank art out nonstop. Sometimes I have to spend a week away from art and just be outdoors, which seems to help fill my invisible inspriation basin. I think to make something, I just need a starting point, and that doesn’t come on my own. It’s always from a memory or a song or people-watching or some mangled tree from a hike. I guess it’s more to say, it’s necessary to have a spark of inspiration, but there’s not always a particular spot to find it. It’s a matter of looking for it.

Hannah: That’s a very poignant outlook on the atmosphere surrounding boarding and the solace that it gave you away from home. I find that your view on the creative process is one that I admire, because it has a realistic realization that art cannot simply always be forced. It takes time, effort, and inspiration. The process is never perfect or even linear, per-say.

As you know, I am in my own process of starting up a creative business. For one, my writing business Hannah Anderson Writing and secondly my business HannahMade where I share the items and designs that I make by crochet, sewing, or paper. What advice would you give other young women and men that want to start a business? What are some good attitudes to bring that first year of operation?

Joanna: First of all, congratulations! I’m proud of you, and I’m excited whenever I hear someone decides to start their own business. Know that just because you are new in the game, it does not make you or your product less valuable. Don’t undersell yourself. Your time and ideas are worth investing in. You may not see a lot of interest immediately, and there will be lulls, that’s normal. Don’t get discouraged. Keep making stuff and use the lulls as time to recharge or branch out with your creations. Use social media and post as often as you can to keep people updated and interested. Be careful, though. I, for one, get sucked into social media super easily, so post and close the app; don’t let scrolling steal your time. Also, accept that you’re going to make mistakes and learn from them. Accept any feedback, but take criticism with a grain of salt. I know a lot of people who mean well and ask if I’m looking for a job or if I’m still doing “that art thing.” Your small business is a job! Don’t let small comments get under your skin.

And, finally, do not feel guilty for enjoying your work. I so often feel guilty for spending an afternoon out with my sisters because I feel like I haven’t been working. In reality, I’m probably spending more hours a day working than I would have at my previous job. Your schedule may not have the structure of a 9-5, and you may not dread working on a commission (I hope you don’t!), but that does not mean you haven’t been “working”.

Hannah: Jo, in conclusion, is there anything we should be looking out for in the future with your shop? What excited things should we expect?

Joanna: Thanks for having me, Hannah! I’m working on new sticker packs and prints that will be available on http://www.saltyjoart.com

This concludes our very first small business spotlight! It was so fun getting to talk to Joanna about her business and sharing it to the readers of H. B. Anderson Writing. If you are interested in anything you see, or if you have a custom order in mind- make sure you check out the links provided to Salty Jo’s website and follow along with Joanna’s newest creative endeavors on the @saltyjo.art Instagram.

Until next time, my friends,


Just imagine for one minute that you are back in the days of your early childhood- crazy, new, awkward youth. These were the best days for questions brimming to the surface, days filled with new ideas and new experiences, and days where curiosity was the overarching theme. Learning held a unique enthusiasm.

We have grown from these times of stardust and wonder, haven’t we? Mostly it is the change of our insatiable search for answers to a certain gnawing complacency. I came to terms with this recently as I read one of my college textbooks. One word held me back from moving onto the next page. You see, it’s not that I was upset I didn’t know this word; it would be incredibly mistaken to assume us fallen humans should know everything on the first try. However, it was the realization that I read this particular word hundreds or thousands of times before without caring enough to look into its meaning. What’s even worse is that this was not the only word in my book that I was familiar with only by glance and not by depth. As I looked through the pages, I was glaringly conscious of the need to research- to start asking questions again.

In my earliest years, I distinctly remember bombarding my parents with questions daily. If I ran into an unfamiliar concept, I never hesitated to discuss its meaning as soon as the opportunity arose. If I read a word I didn’t know, I immediately needed to know it. If I wanted enlightenment on any terms, I sought it out like it was my quest. And when I think back on those times, it seems meaning was at the center of my tiny mind. Do not get me wrong; meaning is still a profound part of my seeking. It’s just that the questions are just a little harder to answer now.

This textbook occurrence made me reflect deeply. How was it that I familiarize myself with so many words and concepts yet still do not fully grasp the significance of their defining qualities? I knew the setting that these words fit and where they may relate. However, I was content in not knowing. I’d rather ignore and take the easy route than do what would be good for me in the long run. It made me ask a question again- Why have I stopped seeking this vital sense of perception?

A sneaking little word crept up in my mind. It is a word widely struggled with for many in this modern age. That word is “apathy.” Merriam-Webster online describes apathy as “a lack of interest or concern: INDIFFERENCE.” It was this kind of attitude that produced the predicament I was in, and many other life struggles men and women face today.

Apathy is preying on modern generations in significant ways. Where previous generations found their sense of community and fulfillment in church, in intentional get-togethers, in letters of length, in books of meaning, and people with deep thoughts and interests, we all-too-often replaced with immediate gratification. Social media imitates fellowship by displaying the best or worst of others’ lives. Shows replace books. Texts are sent instead of letters. Video games are played instead of art made.

Things have become brief. And while these things can offer a lot of good, they cannot possibly fulfill any long-term happiness or goals for us. In their base nature, they do not promote long-term peace, nor do they fill any void in our soul that needs things of consequence and substance- faith and meaning.

How then must we fill this gap between amusement and long-term goals?

One thing we cannot do is continue not to care. 

First, we must be willing to throw off bad habits or attitudes that encourage this apathy that tries to entangle.

Think of the things you hold most dear: the people, the goals, the places. Now take the time to make a list of what you think is holding you back from them. When we know the common enemy of our motivation to learn and to do, we can start small with the practical replacement habits and attitudes to encourage our growth again. We, of course, cannot become reclusive to the modern world altogether (the whole point is the OPPOSITE). It should be the inspiration for your creativity and interest.

Minimize distractions.

Blame my Reformed Baptist roots, but “everything in moderation” is a phrase that I’ve heard all my life. Adopting this philosophy, especially in media and entertainment, could be the best guard against this nasty apathy that sneaks upon us. Go on a media detox for a few days, or be especially cautious about what kinds of media you consume. While doing this, ensure you are incredibly observant in this time of the hobbies and interests you pick up to replace your typical entertainment overload.

Journal about it, if that helps you. Did it take a while to snap out of the urge to fill the noise? Your search for more unique and beneficial ways to use your time might be frustrating at first but will be overwhelmingly fulfilling in the end. You might even have found yourself with a little more pep in your step or a bit more perspective on what you wish to be doing!

Begin asking questions again.

Regard the little things as your mission. If you don’t know a word in your book, underline it and look it up in a dictionary. If you do not understand a concept, do all you can to research until you do while making sure you are using solid resources. Let curiosity be a burning force within you. Another important aspect of this is to remind yourself not to be discouraged if you don’t entirely understand right away. What we have forgotten is that all things of importance do take time.

Make sure the media you do intake is worth it.

Those who believe it is “sheltering yourself” to be conscious of the media you absorb are sadly mistaken. In truth, those who are mindful of how they use media can find themselves much happier than most in their day-to-day lives. The simple reason is this: media can affect everything from your mind to your mood to your worldview. Being selective is simply saying that you, yourself, are worth wisdom over irreverence and peace rather than chaos.

I now try to replace a majority of the fluff/gossip YouTube videos that I used to watch with reliable podcasts filled with history, theology, science, and any other topic of interest I may have. Make sure whatever you are watching is of worth to you. I quickly realized that when I did this, instead of my mind feeling numb by the time I finished videos or music, it left me feeling more passionate and excited to learn. Once you find the things you are passionate about, it will not be as much of a chore to read, write, or find better media.

Of course, this will not happen ALL of the time, nor does it have to be. Just make sure it is the overarching theme of your pursuits.

Comparison Kills Contentment

In the pursuit of an excited and passionate existence, we MUST realize our individuality’s value in our projects. The age-old quote, “comparison kills contentment,” is a phrase that is a comforting quote to me in just about everything I do. It is wise to get constructive criticism of your finished works. Though, there needs to be balanced, and make sure you know that the beauty in someone else’s work does not take away from the unique beauty in yours.

Experiment To Find What Works for You

You’ve heard it a billion times, but IT’S TRUE! I can give you all the tips you’d like, but it all comes down to your trial and error. For me, my perfectionism is the wild enemy that tries to come between me and my goals. For me, improvement is making myself finish the things I’m working on, whether they are up to my high standards or not. Find out that enemy that will try to step between you and the excitements of life. It may be pessimism, anxiety, some perceived weakness within yourself.

I cannot emphasize this enough. Just being aware is the first beautiful step to change! And news flash: I’m writing this because I need to work on these things, as well!

There’s No Room for Perfectionism

Do not be frustrated with the time it takes to learn these principles. Every day is a blank slate that we will be filling with new observations, new insights, new TRIES. You will have days where you feel really great and passionate about your life. You will have other days where you feel like you’re in a slump. Though, the difference is you try to build those habits that encourage growth and not self-sabotage. You have more control than you think in your life by building these small positive habits.

We cannot rely on pure feelings to buoy us or even help us make the right decisions. This is because feelings can be deceitful. Feelings can not want the best for us, at times. This is why we need to learn a good balance of logic and growth in what is good for us. These steps, if used as a starting point, can aid our abandonment of all the apathy that hold us back.

 Some Questions for You

  • What are some habits that help you stay engaged in the life around you?
  • What have you noticed about yourself when you are more productive or interested in your life/work?
  • Have you noticed your creativity expand as you become more in tune with good habits?
  • Have you tried journaling through your creative/growth progress?

Until next time, readers.

H. B. Anderson


Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Apathy. In Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. Retrieved April 6, 2021, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/apathy