Note: we’re currently operational (and hanging in there). More info + updates here.

A Book Apart

Get to Know Rachel Nabors

Sep 01, 2017

ABA logo

It’s always an incredibly exciting time at A Book Apart during a book launch. In the rush and whirl of it all, we often realize that we’ve spent a year or more working with an author on their book—and getting to know them! (We think we’re pretty lucky.)

In a post we’ll start publishing with most book launches, you’ll get to know a little more about our wonderful authors through a series of “lightning round” questions. We can’t think of a better person to kick things off with than Rachel Nabors. Enjoy!

Tabletop marquis sign

ABA: What is your favorite thing about your workspace?

RN: My electric fireplace. I don’t even turn the heater on. Just the flames. They cheer up and personalize an open office plan, chasing away drafts with their imaginary warmth. Next to that: my Wacom tablet. Always my favorite computer accessory!

ABA: What’s the first thing you do every morning to start your day on the right foot?

RN: I do a set of back exercises to keep my posture on the right track. So many of us neglect our back health. We really should pay more attention to it! My morning hasn’t really started, though, until I’ve made a fresh batch of hot tea. There are so many ways to prepare so many kinds of tea: from a reproduction Earl Grey in a stately English pot, to traditional, earthy puerh served in a gongfu cup, to fancy Taiwanese oolongs made in a porcelain device designed specifically for oolongs! Even if it’s hot outside, my husband sends me out the door with a canteen of coldbrew iced tea! Tea sets the tone for the day. It also acts as an early warning system for burnout: if I don’t have time for tea, I need to move some things off my plate!

ABA: Is there anyone you’re following the work of right now, who you’d recommend others pay attention to?

RN: Absolutely! Mina Markham is a rising star in the world of design systems, while Cordelia McGee is becoming more widely known for her accessibility expertise now that she’s on the road speaking. These are smart ladies you should follow closely. In the creative coding scene, Nat Cooper has just spun up a Creative Coding Club, which provides a great opportunity for folks to challenge each other and hold one another accountable.

ABA: In moments of self-doubt, how do you recharge and rally to keep going?

RN: I have trouble with this. I doubt myself. A lot. I didn’t have a lot of role models growing up instilling in me a sense of “this is ok, you’ll be fine.” I tend to work through my problems. For me, taking time off from a problem feels too much like running away from it, and I am a fighter. So if I can’t face it and vanquish it, I’ll often take on a new challenge. Learning something new always makes me feel smart and strong, and it makes the things I’m unsure of shrink.

The problem comes when I’m taking on so many challenges to keep my momentum that I start to feel bogged down and overwhelmed. That is where that cup of tea comes in. If there isn’t time for tea, it’s time to slow down!

ABA: What is your go-to source of inspiration when you’re trying to get out of a creative rut?

RN: The library. I love the smell of library books, old or new. I love pulling them off the shelf, one after another, to select the perfect one. I couldn’t possibly read them all in one lifetime, so I’m forced to follow my nose to what really arrests me. For a professional artist, constraints should spark creativity, and I find selecting books kindles that spark inside me.

ABA: What characteristic do you most admire in other driven/creative people?

RN: Self-assuredness, the confidence that they are successful today and will be successful tomorrow. I’ve been through many of ups and downs in my life and take little for granted. But folks who seem to be able to put that aside seem so much less anxious. But here’s a secret: many driven and creative folk do not feel this confidence. It’s rare and precious. I think that’s the secret to being driven without being driven mad: the confidence that tomorrow is another day, and you’ll still be you. Your challenges will still be there, and you will have another crack at them.

ABA: What tool, object, or ritual could you not live without to get you through a week?

RN: Is it not obvious by now? TEA! Tea is both ritual and spontaneous, communal and introspective. You can’t check Twitter while making a pot of tea. You can’t be frustrated when inhaling that fragranced steam. Tea is the boot process of my day.