One of the Other Handy Things about Slowness

Photo: Nocturnes & Lullabies, Book CoverThe gradual approach to the making of my art-and-poetry books means that, while the process itself is invisible to the naked eye and makes it look pretty much like I’m sitting around twiddling my thumbs for years at a time, I have built up quite an inventory of miscible ingredients for the non-nefarious sort of book-cookery. So I have another book ‘going live’ on my button-push today (a little gift to myself, admittedly): Nocturnes & Lullabies (poems of nighttime set with my landscape photography). And I have one in proof-production that is of songs and dances and romances, A Wanderer Wearing Art-Colored Glasses, expected to go live before we’re well into the new year.

And I have about four more in current process, not to mention a good handful of others on the docket to follow. This isn’t meant by any means to be a cheap stunt, but is merely the latest expression of my lifelong approach to creative endeavors. Collect: ideas, info, little bits of practice and revisions of them. Do more research, writing, rewriting, art-making, and photo taking. Collect some more. Do some more. Put all of the collections and doings into digital files so that they can be combined, rearranged, edited, and further refined until they begin to coalesce into another recognizable book.

That latter step becomes smoother not only as I get the hang of the various publishing templates that allow me to manipulate the content to my taste and satisfaction but, more especially, as I have been looking at and revising my writings and visual images over the years. Among the hundreds and thousands of texts and pictures are some that begin to stand out, to interact in their files, to show affinities that lead me to combine them and refine them in new ways, and eventually, to become what might be the next book or project idea.

Meanwhile, besides that I continue to have a daily life where sleeping, eating, keeping house, and having social or other obligations, there are other kinds of projects brewing in their own ways and at their own pace. I haven’t had a gallery or other-venue showing of my artwork in a long time, and am getting the itch again, so I think I need to set one up for a time within the coming year to motivate myself to be newly productive in some of my favorite media. I even have a few thoughts about inventions of various kinds that I think might be worth exploring for practical application.

But all of this is still so much fancy and fantasy unless I continue to (a) keep current with the aforementioned daily tasks of living, and (b) plug along with the book projects as much as I’m able. For now, I’m happy to have gotten another baby up and running, and hope you’ll have a look at this latest of my petite coffee-table books and enjoy reading and looking at it as much as I’ve enjoyed incubating and producing all of them. Cheers!

My Own Inverted Jenny

book cover imageI have a little confession to make. My book-publishing debut has a noticeable flaw. It’s not huge enough that the editorial filters of the publisher, or even my own oft-repeated scrutiny, caught it in the preview and proofing processes, but I noticed it, and I’d like to make it better. See, in the hard-copy and digital proofs that I checked before giving the go-ahead to publish, I didn’t manage to spot how low the contrast was between text and background on one of the two-page layouts, and it’s not nearly legible enough for my taste in the final print, even with my relatively eagle-sharp eyes.

So I’ve made a revised version of that page duo and a couple of other pages that were quite acceptable but I thought deserved a boost of readability as well as long as I was at it, and I have requested that the publisher allow an after-publication change. Those of you who have already purchased and received the book (I’m looking at you: family members; Mira, Diane, Gracie, Christine, etc, and a handful of others that I know of thus far) will probably know which typography I’m describing. It’s readable, but it’s an effort, I admit. Those of you who haven’t bought the book yet, I certainly hope you will do so but maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to give you an even more polished product if you wait until I give the thumbs-up to a tiny revision in a week or so. Now, at least you know the whole story of my neophyte adventure.

If you’d rather hang on to the original version of the book as it stands anyhow, I promise you that all but the one poem—all 165 or so of the others—are entirely readable as the book stands, and while I can’t in any way promise that this, my first foray into unintentional-humor publication (to be fair, the rest of the book is supposed to be amusing) will be my last, let alone likely to accrue the sort of megabucks value given the famous upside-down airplane stamp of my post title, I do hope that when I croak, you might be able to get a bonus by selling off the short run of mistake-inclusive prints to crazed collectors. So if you paid, say, ten or twelve dollars this week (and I see they’re already reducing the price on Amazon, so bargains can already be had) you may be able to sell the book in a couple of decades for thirty-six cents extra. Talk about a fantastic investment! Don’t say I never gave you anything exciting.

But seriously, I hope that you will think buying a book from me is a reasonable investment not only in my happiness and well-being but in your own good spirits, because that’s what the book was intended for in the first place: playful entertainment for semi-grownups in the form of my whimsical-to-wacky drawings and poems. With your patience and a little perseverance on my part, we ought to be able to conjure up such an interlude together one way or another, no? I thank you for your good humor and support. Have a lovely day, y’all, and I promise I’ll keep you posted on my progress.photoOf course, since I’ve already made the revision of my “oops page” to submit, now I’ll be getting started with the conversion of the (reedited) book file to prepare it for a Kindle edition, and will need to decide which of the many other books I’ve got on various ‘back burners’ will be next on my agenda for what will hopefully be mistake-free from the moment of its publication. That’s the plan, my friends.

A Musical Tradition

The office where my esteemed spouse performs many of the studies and administrative duties comprising his workload outside of the conducting element at the church where he’s now interim chancel choir director hasn’t got a lot of stuff in it other than a big desk, a small piano and a couple of bookshelves. Most of the books that had filled the shelves went away with their owner, the previous director; a few that go with the office itself remain on the shelves, and all by themselves they tell quite a story. That’s the way of books in general, isn’t it.

It’s all the more so in this instance, by virtue of the books’ being vintage hymnals. The history of the United Methodist Church at large is in their pages. The history of this specific congregation within the UMC is there, too. And there’s a great deal of Protestant church history, Wesleyan history, English and American folk music and even larger and older parts of the musical tradition. All right there in the pages of some rather small, rather worn books that just happen to be full of hymns.

There are libraries; there are Protestant theological resources; there are music collections; there are history books. All of them are in this one room, in a handful of little old books. And that, in itself, is the nature and long-lived tradition of printed music in general. So much has been passed down in the oral traditions of so many cultures and religions and peoples, but there’s an enormous amount that lives on and grows and inspires because of those amazing repositories that exist in the written music that survives everyday use, one generation after another. I only hope that all such traditions can be preserved and enjoyed far beyond our lifetimes, whether in temples or towns, religions or regions, families or foundations, schools or individual choirs. Beyond inspiration or even enjoyment, these are great containers of food for thought.digital collage

You Inspire Me

Many people who know me think that I have two middle names. Legally, that’s correct–when I got married I took my spouse’s last name and just upgraded my original last name to being a second middle name. Most people get that I did not hyphenate but rather have four individual names. It’s hardly unusual, and even those notoriously fussy creatures known as federal agencies have figured out how to address me as a four-named person without batting a governmental eye.

But to be entirely transparent with you, I ought to add that I have a sort of unspoken additional middle name, that to which I’ve alluded here before, and it is: Lazy Pants. Okay, that’s two more middle names if we’re being truly precise.

Laziness is at the very center of my being. Believe me when I say that this is not bragging; I do realize that it’s not an enviable, admirable trait or one that should be emulated by others. But it’s my reality, and greatly affects what I do and don’t accomplish in this life of mine.

The happier news here is that I am surrounded by non-lazy people who not only know how to do fantastic things but get out there and DO them. This is pretty much a life-saver for your correspondent Miss Lazy-Pants. It means that someone more energetic and probably a lot more skilled is doing what needs to be done. Perhaps more importantly, it means that sometimes I receive the blessed necessity of a kick in the lazy pants to DO something myself, and better yet, the needed information and inspiration to help me do it better than I would have in the first place.

This is a gift I enjoy receiving regularly from those lovely people who, as family and proximal friends, make up my immediate daily surroundings and embrace me in their great and comforting network of support. Thanks to my life of blogging I have now got the auxiliary family of encouraging people to push me out of my comfortable lazy cocoon and make me willing to tackle actual projects, motivate me to do something new and maybe different and, just possibly, even useful.

And I thank you, each and every one of you. I’d say ‘you know who you are’–but a whole lot of you don’t even know that you inspire me, let alone how deeply you inspire me. If you’re reading this and I’ve ever, ever visited and commented on your blog, you have inspired me. Even if I’ve only lurked at your blog and never come out of my shell enough to say Hello or make a remark, I have probably learned useful things that lit a friendly little fire under my lazy pants to get back to work and do something that, if not useful in a universal way by a long stretch, will prove useful in improving me as a person and as an artist.

One of my regular inspirations and motivations comes from those bloggers who focus on making art, because it’s one of those things I love to do but often have to get pushed into starting no matter how much good I know will come from getting back to work. So today’s post is brought to you in part by the good graces of you, all of you, and I thank you.

Specific thanks for this bit also go to that marvelous pencil-wielding mistress of Drawing Saudade, who daily doses us with her creatures, characters, costumes and comforts in a marvelous flowing style that made me want to play with something similar for a change from my own typical stuff, as well as return to a longtime fascination with costume design. Thanks, friend!graphite drawing