Tuesday, February 12, 2019


book report

Goodness, I've been busy.  A brief update.  Work on two of my three book projects continues apace.  I've set the third aside for now because the other two are more compelling to me at the moment.  But I'm also in the midst of making another catalogue for my upcoming solo show in May and June of this year, so that counts too, right?  If we're counting?  I haven't been reading much because all the writing is keeping the paper-loving part of me very happy.  But of course I have been reading, a bit.  A few very pleasing books.  And I still have some back issues of Slightly Foxed to go before I run out.  But more about those another day, because this post will be text-light and image-heavy for a change. 

Last year around this time I was transcribing certain experiences out of my old diaries, to liberate them from that too-specific timeline and kitchen-sink way of writing  (as in: everything but).  I had lots of help, as you can see.  Hodge is an excellent assistant, and taskmaster.  He keeps me company day after day and is a blessing and a holy terror both:

Last year I got everything I wanted to out of my diaries and into a rough first draft, then I set it aside for months, and let it cook, or collapse, whichever it wanted to do most.  Then last month I took the draft out again, and riffled the pages and said to myself, Okay, self, this is it.  Let's figure this out, this book-writing thing.  I know I have good sentences and lots of them.  I have a story to tell, about painting on an island, and about the island and me, our relationship.  I can fashion the good sentences into paragraphs, and the paragraphs into chapters, and the chapters into a book.  Sounds easy, right?  Hodge says yes, this year:

He naps, while I transcribe all my handwritten pages from last winter into my computer, editing and arranging the text as I go.  And when I can't see my way clear on how to do that, I get the words typed in anyway.  SO, I just finished that stage, over the weekend, and now have about 90,000 words.  Arranged into fifteen chapters.  Some of which are short and sweet and others of which are too long and rambly with no form whatsoever.  BUT.  Lots of good sentences!  I'm in a decent place with the whole project.  I can almost see how it will resolve.  I'll be printing off this second draft shortly and then will start to edit and move sections around again.  And cut a lot of repetitive stuff out altogether.  Diaries (mine, at least) are so repetitive, but to that I say:  thanks for routines and ways of working.  They add up.  I just need to cut out a lot of got-up-got-dressed-had-breakfast type of stuff.  And all the words that don't further my narrative or do my prose any favors.

When I get discouraged or frustrated with this whole thing - I mean I have to give myself a lot of pep talks and suspend much disbelief and quiet the many voices saying to me that I do not need to be doing this - I set it aside and work on my other book project, the small illustrated one.  I've been learning to use gouache and making little paintings of natural subjects (leaves, trees, feathers, birds, animals, insects, small landscapes, and the like), and I've written a text to go along with the gouache paintings.  I've been working on this for about four months, on and off, although I wrote almost all the text over a year ago.  Hodge is MOST interested in the proceedings here as well:

Sometimes a little too interested, to be honest.  Crinkly things! On the table!  Raaaaarrrhhhh:

The dried oak leaves, lower left, with their acorns just forming, turned into this painting:

I've painted a lot of other leaves too, alongside bits of this and that.  Which are so beautiful to me, both in the fullness of their lives and again in their late fall decay:

This little illustrated book is going to be quite plain - just single lines of text and a small painting on each page.  The longer book will be all words, but I do hope to have a section of images of my oil paintings too, since a lot of the book is about the act of painting.  Both books are about being outside, in the wild, involved with nature, and how necessary I find that to be.  I've seen and experienced some wonderful things, all over Maine, out on the islands I go to, and right out the window here at home.  This young fox was napping in our backyard many years ago.  Kept in memory all that time, and finally painted:

That's all my news, for now.  I mean, a lot of other things are happening, here and all over the place, but oh these quiet winter days, sitting for hours in patches of sun, working steadily to get my books made - that has been more than enough for me.  Hodge approves, I think.  Dear friend.  Shall we ask him?

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