December 19, 2005

Two Years of Joyful Swervitude (114 of 283)

I THINK MY PLAN WILL BE to get the chapters firmed (as early and as much as possible), meaning the book will be edited and jigged and jagged into place for little while, but I do hope to know what illustration I am doing for each chapter...which will depend on what the chapter is about. Thus, my desire to know sooner than later what the chapters are.

Actually, this won't be an issue. I keep thinking that the book must be rushed out, but I just remembered that I had a conversation with the publishing director today who gave me a feel for the schedule of the books. Looks like the first three of the fiction series will pub in late 2007, so I'm not sure exactly when that means I'll have to be finished, but even though it's not really a ton of time, it spaces out the non-fiction much more realistically. And gives me a nice definite time for the other ones. Two years. That gives me two years to write and illustrate three of these 200pp+ books. What a journey this will be! Talking about spending a long time "in character." How exciting! I feel like Bilbo packing seed-loaves into his knapsack, as he prepares for the road.

An exciting part of this is that this really means I can go back and add to the first book, even while I finish the third. Which insures a lot of continuity and accurate foreshadowing and a super strong connection between the three installments. And then by the fourth, I'll know the characters and stories and settings so well, I won't need to go back and touch up anything. It will be well set down and in motion, by then.

Although it sort of hurts to think of them not seeing daylight for so very long. Who knows, though. What little bit I know about publishing has taught me that these things can change from month to month. But Karen was speaking of having reliable deadlines, so perhaps these will hold. Time will tell.

I The first non-fiction book Horris' Scary Guide to Ancient Egypt will be published Nov of 2006. So I will get to work on that soon. But this does ease things up a tiny bit, and I'm happy about that. The more I think about it, the happier I am. The publisher is an ambitious man, and I get carried away sometimes in ideafests right along with him. This can happen easily. I tend to aim high when I estimate what I can produce. I mean, I can write consisently, and I think I can put out a fair amount of material. I hope going back, even, in this journal, will back that up. But I aim even higher than I can meet, sometimes. And that's good; it's good to reach high, I feel. But the more I think about her reshuffling of the dates, the more I am relieved. It would make me so much happier to do these books right, and by right I mean to to really saturate them with attention. Perhaps I could bang them out quicker, but I do believe in putting down your mark thoughtfully and deliberately and artfully, if you put it down at all. Books have too long a (snortle) shelf-life to rush. And often, it is the little embellishments and details you draw in at the end, on the 111th pass that really bring out the shape of your imagined reality successfully. I am very relieved to have more time. I suddenly realize I was just putting the best face on a horribly tight (perhaps impossible) schedule.

Especially because art is different than writing in a few ways. Sometimes an image will get stuck coming through the door from your mind to your paper, and no matter how many times you erase (and you have a finite amount of times you can try again, here, on actual paper), you can't get it right. Feeling pressured in those moments has not proven conducive to my being productive in those types of situations. Actually, to be honest, while that is true, the same is true for writing. Sometimes it really closes you down to be too pressed for time. But mostly, it all comes down to that choatic sapphire molecule of delight and unpredictability, the will 'o the muse. I can't complain. I rarely, if ever feel dry. I have no methodology, as Piers Anthony does (using his "block" itself to further the narrative, thus eliminating the concept of a "block"), I just always seem to have something bubbling from my noggin (what a yummy image!).

IN addition to the one-per-chapter full page spreads I wanted to do, I also wanted to make illustrations on the computer for each large dropcap at the start of each chapter. And that is another 29 illos or so. Granted, they won't be as intricate as the full-page illo for each chapter. And they will be shrunk down a lot. But it's still a lot of illustration. Now you begin to see how perhaps I bite off more than I can chew once in a while. But I must say, most of the time, I make it, and am quite proud of my results. So I doubt I'll stop driving myself so hard now. It's joy, is what it is. This is what makes me happy to do. And trying harder only makes me happier. (To a point!)

Anyway, looks like I have the next couple years work cut out for me. And I look forward to all of it. I sure hope I can find time in there to finish my album, and to develop my weaponhead character. Although I wonder if he might not just show up on K'Nisqa.... Hmm.

As I edit this first novel (second book), I feel I am making three steps forward and two steps back. Which I literally am. Sometimes I move three pages forward in the manuscript, but write two pages onto its length. Right now I have edited up to page 114, and its length stands at 283. I guess overall, that is good. Yesterday I had edited up to page 80, and the book had 280 pages. So I moved forward 34 pages, and added three. That's fine, yeah. That's excellent. It was only yesterday, where I had to develop a part of the story, that got me a little worried. I had added a lot of pages.

Anyway, I am reaching that point where I feel so drained that I might float away. Began at 05:30 today, it is now almost 18:00. I look forward to tomorrow's work. Although I ended at a part where it is getting a little tricky. I think I have to strike a page and just rewrite a part entirely. As I reread (note to self "quartz/frontyard/scienceproject/mona/stairs"), I realize I don't like this little part at all. Won't work. Tear down, build back up. Just like those troublesome parts of an illustration.

You feel a moment of hesitation as you reach for the eraser. Can it stand? Does it really stick out? But you know, even as you think (but would never say aloud) "I hate to destroy something beautiful," that if you let it stand, it would haunt you. Even if nobody else noticed, you would see nothing else when you looked at the drawing. And if it were a written scene, you would think of nothing else, no matter who you met at the signing, or what kind of wine was served at the bookstore's next holiday party. The book might even be brilliant, but to you it would be the book that hid at its core, a hollow scene. There was a slip of the hand, sure, but you also turned your head. And we can be so very hard on ourselves, can't we?

The hesitation isn't long. You wipe it clean and do it again. And again, if you have to. You do it until you can't see that it's something you've made anymore. You rest once it convinces you that it is real, until the seam disappears.

Well, then. Here's to that. Until the seam disappears, Katy. And please remember to burn all my letters.

Your friend and confidant,


joaquín ramón herrera writes for children, adults, and other humans found elsewhere in the continuum of development. He is also an illustrator, musician, and surprise protagonist. If you have found his glasses, wallet, or keys, please contact him here.

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