I had been hoping to be knee deep in my book so it could be published by September. That deadline may still happen if I sit down and keep at it, but it may be slightly later. There is a fine line between acquiring skills, doing the research and taking the time to do your best work, and procrastinating.
One would think that weren't true, unless you realize somethings are just so big. There are about a ten projects in various stages, but after Nana's Gift, this is the oldest and most dear.
It's genesis was when I was a young grrl, when I used to visit with Ann. She was inspirational in ways I have a hard time describing. I could call her "bubbly", but you might infer "frivolous" and perhaps it's a fine distinction, but she truly was effervescent. It was so hard to be depressed around her. When I would go to Deli One, I literally would have a dollar to my name to spend, but loved listening to the music (and had a bit of a crush on the jazz bass player), and it was the only social time I had, as I was in art school, dealing with family problems and working full-time, that covered my expenses. I would nurse one cup of tea, and sitting with Ann gave me cover or I would have been thrown out, but the restaurant did institute a one refill of hot water because of me.
Years later visiting The Barron Center, because Ann's multiple sclerosis had developed to the point she was bed ridden, she hadn't changed from the woman who shared her music and stories. There were times I'd go in, and she would be blind. The nature of the disease, she didn't know if she'd ever get her sight back. She was still Ann, the effervescent, the drop of sunshine. She spoke of how a town she taught school in, wrote a petition to not sell her a house because of the color of her skin, and how one grateful student's parent sold her the home she came to live in. She talked of how her brother had to go out of state (not Eddie, he was the only one to not go to college, but that was because he didn't want to, but Emerson, who has a strip of highway named after him in Scarborough, Maine). When he was friends with Ed Muskie, he had a bit of coverage, but when the University found out he was tutoring Muskie, the made the rule "no coloreds" could play the piano. She dealt with a life time of these attitudes, gracefully, full of humor, not letting anyone define her, so what chance did a stupid disease have?
And how do you honor someone like that? I spent a good portion of my time feeling not worthy. I'm a wicked whiner, sometimes. What I saw and heard in my head, I didn't really have the skill to accommodate. But I couldn't let it go. She was MY friend. Old Orchard Beach is one of MY favorite places, I know this place, people, history it's what I daydream about, all those lovely stories (remember all the other projects, lol).
The divide was so far apart.
The first line popped into my head though from a dream and I began writing. After she'd passed, more of the book "popped" in my head. A conversation with a couple of experts and their comments that I knew more about it than they did, further bolstered me. I didn't want it all to be lost.
After that I created a dummy. This is the original drawing from the dummy of the spread I'm working on now:
There was a lot of rewriting, some editorial comment and near misses, I stopped drawing and put it away, not sure what I wanted to do. Then I learned Photoshop and decided I could self publish.
I chose this spread as the first, there were few changes to be made, it was designed how I wanted it to appear. Also, the one that follows it should help me get into the "continuity" swing of things.
There are quite a few challenges for me with this book. It's a work of fiction and fact, so the facts have to be correct and the fiction plausible. And Ann is no longer here to corroborate. Old Orchard Beach changed from year to year, so getting a picture of what it actually looked like at the time was a challenge as well, and there's only one photo reference of Ann with Eddie. It is important to me, the character actually reflect her, in body and in spirit. Some of the editorial comment wanted more to do with Duke, but you know she didn't reminisce about that as much, other than the singing and him taking her on the rides. I won't manufacture what she didn't tell me. Another challenge, my life has fallen apart in the last few years, so piecing together what I have is even harder as some of it is scattered, and the means to get from here to there or even work on it has become a hurdle.
This is actually a history of people and my friend, I believe was an important part of that history, though she would probably denoue it. I will get this done (and hopefully all my other projects, daunting and wonderful in their own way), but realize I feel unworthy every step of the way. I fear I will spend my heart and soul on this, my desperation of situation my shine through instead what I want to: What it is to be a kid looking forward and embracing the possibilities and problems of her life. People will notice the book and then I will not only be the one thinking I'm unworthy of the project. Or worse, people won't notice at all.
But the words, "if not me, then who?" keeps ringing in my ears.
So, I waited for this class (that was a good choice, this will be a much better book for it.). I played with some of the angles per the lesson on perspective, trying to make it more dramatic (why do I want to say DRAW-MATIC, lol, I have such a punny brain!). It still didn't work.
I have the challenge of designing a book that can be printed so the spreads read together and well. But also the spreads can be divided in half and the book still reads well, in the e-format. I think I've mostly done this on the piece, especially in light of the spread/two pages to follow it. I realized I was putting off FINISHING IT. I decided I would write about it (accountability!) and then FINISH IT. I will share the next few incarnations and the finished piece in the next blog post. I shall embrace my freakin' fear, and I hope the love and honor I feel comes through the work. Wish me the best!