Sometimes you get something in your snail mail that isn’t junky:
Last week my American publisher sent me the brand new Korean edition of my last book, Gardens of Awe and Folly!
I did something in that book that I didn’t do in the two previous books, which was design it so that text was dropped onto and incorporated into full-page illustrations, so I was curious to see how the Korean edition would handle that:
Yes, the English text that appears over the top corner of this watercolor illustration of Karen Kersting’s rose garden in New Orleans was miraculously changed into Korean. Well done, 내 친구들.
Seeing this new version of my book reminds me how much work it takes to put a book together. And it reminds me how I better get cracking on that invention that I dream about, the Book That Writes Itself. That would make like so much easier for yours truly.
I am half way there … in that I have an app that promises to take care of the part of book-making that I call illustration. Yes! There’s an app that lets a book illustrate itself!
It’s called Waterlogue and here’s how it works:
Take a photograph of a scene that you want to paint itself (saving you, of course, the bother of getting all that watercolor equipment in line, the paints; the paper; the brushes; the jar of water that needs constant changing; the sense of dread and doom that you are going to have to paint this thing over and over again until you get it right; etc.
You run this photograph through the app and voila:
For comparison, here’s how this scene looks in Gardens of Awe and Folly:
I painted my scene (above) from a reference photograph that I took on a foggy Fall morning. I can’t find the exact reference photo in my files, but here’s what the place looked like last October:
That huge gnarly Copper Beech was cut down, having become too fall-aparty to be safe anymore. *Sigh* The guys with the choppers will come for us all, eventually.
Here’s a nice view in Claude Monet’s garden in Giverny, France (taken on my last visit, in May 2015):
Here is the illustration that I painted over the course of three of four painful afternoons:
And presto — here’s the Waterlogue app doing its thing:
Oh, crud. Looks like I’ll be hammering this picture out with my own two hammy fists.
Speaking of using my split writer/illustrator personality in the real world, I will be a hard-working Writer this September and October, leading four workshops at the Bryant Library in Roslyn, NY. The workshops are free, and open to all interested parties on the second and fourth Thursday evening in each month, from 7 – 9.
In my workshops I will learn you on identifying your voice; on understanding what your story is (is it a short story?…is it an episodic memoir?…is a confessional?…is it an 80,000 word novel?); on how to best communicate that story to your readers — in fact, on acknowledging that you are in fact writing for readers who you must visualize and take into account with every word you write. I will make you self-conscious as an observer of life so that you understand that life is what gives you copy.
I will urge you go to your local Walmart, your local grocery store, your nearest bus stop; I will make you report back to the workshop at least three overheard conversations that you gathered on your new role as a writer, a snoop, an observer of the human condition.
I will introduce you to the realities of the writing life: Are you ready for what it takes to prepare your writing for publication? (Because in my experience, something’s got to give for you to achieve your writing goals. For instance, I had to give up watching Dr. Phil every afternoon in order to meet my daily goal…sad, but true.)
And if I can’t build me a Robot-Vivian between now and September, this will indeed be me, in the flesh, talking about how to write for publication.
I know you are, like me, in awe of the successful rescue operation in Thailand that got all those kids and their soccer coach out of that dastardly cave. The rescue was nothing short of miraculous. The rescuers are heroes, straight up. It was a marvelous story.
But can I tell you a story of my own, please?
One day, when my brother was three years old, my parents had to rush him to the hospital. Why?
Because, prior to the fun rush to the hospital, my parents had thought that my brother was sitting happily in the driveway, amusing himself by playing with his Matchbox cars. But no, my brother had grown bored with his Matchbox cars so what he was actually doing while sitting in the driveway was playing with all the little pebbles that had accumulated on the edge of the blacktop. Specifically, he was taking those little pebbles and, one by one, he was stuffing them up his nose. That is, until he had reached maximum stuffage, nose-wise, and began to cry because, I can only assume, having a nose packed full of little pebbles is somewhat uncomfortable.
The pebbles could only be extracted by a professional with a very long, slender, needle-nosed tool in the emergency room of Abington Hospital in Ambler, PA. Hence, the frantic car ride to our local hospital.
Now, you might wonder, Why would your brother pack his nose full of little pebbles from the driveway?
Good question. And, as best as I can figure, he did it because boys are stupid and they do stupid things, like pack their noses full of little pebbles, for no good damn reason.
The same way they go hiking in caves that are preposterously narrow, horrifyingly twisting, pitch-black dark, atmospherically foul, and fill with water when it rains (and it rains a lot in Thailand this time of year).
(In the above scenario, the soccer coach is my brother, and the kids on his team are the willing little pebbles that the soccer coach stuffed up the nose of the cave.)
That’s all I’m saying.
Have a great weekend, everyone.
Here’s some photos Dennis staying cool on the north shore of Long Island last week, to get you off to a good start:
Dear Readers, may all your noses remain pebble-free, may all your explorations be to clean, well-lighted places.