[One of the many blooming flowers in Joshua Tree a few weeks ago.]
I am taking a deep breath this morning after being frantically wound up yesterday. I started that day by applying a thick varnish on a large commission I just finished - 70" x 48" - and while I am laughing now about what a lunatic I must have looked like trying to apply the varnish evenly, it was about thirty minutes of pure terror yesterday. I started out varnishing the piece outside on my patio to avoid becoming trapped in a haze of fumes in my studio, but when that wasn't working as well as I wanted it to, I had to race downstairs, throw open the windows, lay down a tarp and plastic trash bags, carry the piece downstairs and apply another layer of varnish with a squeegee with the piece flat on the ground. Do you have any idea how tricky it is to squeegee varnish over a wood panel that is 70" wide and 48" tall flat on the ground? It's madness I tell you!
After that crazed workout, I proceeded to engage in my usual post-project ritual, which is to clean my studio top to bottom. Now that this commission is done, all of my focus can move towards my book, and I arranged my desk to make this process as open and flowing as possible for the next month. Bringing this book to life has turned out to be an interesting journey, more technical and time consuming than I thought it might be. Although maybe that isn't true, because I started this process long ago knowing bumps would arise along the way, thinking I would be leaving more than enough room for those hiccups. It turns out everything will probably all come together just in the nick of time, thereby proving once more the rule that says however much time you give a project is exactly how long it will take to get it all done.
A few of the
moments of panic twists...
* Trying to print the interior pages of my book for a hardcover version and a softcover version in one press run. Sounds straightforward, but it has taken weeks for my printer and I to figure out the best method for binding both versions in order to avoid problems on the formatting and printing end. I first met with my printer in late March to discuss this project and we still do not have a final quote in place, although I do know it will cost significantly more than what was discussed in those early weeks.
* Creating a schedule for the printing and binding. I was initially thinking I'd have until early August to turn everything in to my printer, but that soon became late July and we are now setting a firm deadline of...June 27. As in, my book has to not only be finished, but formatted and mocked-up, ready to go to press, in one month minus one day.
* Beyond this, I'll need to spend two full days at my printer when the book is on press to do press checks on each page. I will then need to return to my printer after all the books have been bound in order to sign and number the hardcover limited editions, because I was told I was crazy not to individually shrink wrap those editions. From there I'll need to ship a big box of books to Squam, where the book will be officially launched, and once I get back home from Squam I hit the ground running on a season filled with book events that I've been lining up for the past few months.
* Oh, and right now I'm crossing my fingers it isn't too late to get an ISBN number before I have to send everything to my printer. That one slipped through the cracks.
Details, details and more details, all of which I am trying to wrap up sooner rather than later so the last big chunk of June can be spent deep in Right Brain territory, finishing and organizing each and every page of my book.
I share this process not to gripe, because so far there has not been anything to really pull my hair out over, but to lay my journey out on the table. Sometimes it is tempting to see the final result of one's process and believe it must have been a breeze from day one. Creating this book and making it real is like anything else in life - it takes work and time and ups and downs and a willingness to let go of certainty in many ways. My work lately has been to sink deeply into a space of believing every single step of this process is happening as it should. When I started to get worked up over a new, closer deadline, I had to force myself to stay put in that space, having to resist the strange allure of stress and pressure and tension. With every step I build my Staying In The Here And Now muscle, and as summer comes to a close, I'll be able to share the fruits of this labor with the rest of the world.
For now I'm still in the thick of the journey, beginning to see the sunlight through the trees and feeling incredibly grateful for all the support I'm receiving along the way.