January 13: My friend & favorite watercolorist

My favorite watercolorist is also my friend, Alba Escayo. She and I go way back. I think we found each other on Elance which is now Upwork. Yup, a classic internet mogul move; change a good name to a lousy one. Alba lives and works in Spain. She created the cover on my first novel and I wanted her to create the cover on Cottonwood as well. I’m always grateful she’s younger than I am because it means she’ll be around to create the cover artwork for every book I write, if she’s willing and I am able.

I had an idea that involved a Cottonwood tree and a figure carrying a golf bag and walking away from the viewer. From underneath the tree, the figure reaches up and touches the low-hanging leaves. The idea of the walking away is that the figure is walking into the future, like all of us. The figure is faceless. It could be anyone. It could be one of the characters in the book but then again maybe not. No matter who it is, he reaches up to touch the tree, to touch a growing life.

I sent Alba an example of my idea but I did a bad job of explaining my vision to her. Probably I was in a hurry or maybe I thought we had discussed it more completely last time we emailed about it, over a year ago. She sent me this a couple days ago:

Now I have a problem, not a bad problem mind you, more like a decision. This is not at all what I had in mind, but I love it. It’s not a golf book so I had no intention of having an image of someone swinging a golf club on the cover, but there it is. And, now that it’s there, it has me doubting my concept. I’ve been reminding myself of some of my best non-advice advice:

It doesn’t really matter.

Of course it does, but maybe not. I wanted Alba to create the cover because I love her work, and this is her work. Now I find myself hesitant to continue to foist my vision on her, especially after she’s blessed me with this beautiful creation. My concept is not the idea of a visual artist but rather of a lowly writer. Part of me is screaming at myself to leave the artwork to the artist, and that is definitely Alba and definitely not me.

But we are talking about me. So, in the end I couldn’t help myself and I emailed Alba with my thoughts. As I said, I love the cover she’s done, and I want it, and I’ll pay her for it gladly. It will hang proudly over my desk and I will smile each time I see it. It may not end up being the artwork I use on the cover and then again it might be.

The decisions made in writing a book, especially a self-published book, go on and on. I’m very happy that no matter what decision I make about the cover art, the work will be Alba’s and it will be fantastic because it is hers.

Today’s writing soundtrack is an elegant 1974 record by Bills Evans called, Symbiosis. It is some of the best of jazz and classical (read: orchestral) music I have ever heard. It is melodically and rhythmically evocative of both times and places I’d like to be. I know a pianist who doesn’t think much of Bill Evans’ work from this era, but I think it is wonderful. Maybe you will, too, so take a listen.

Thanks for dropping by.

January 13: My friend & favorite watercolorist

Time enough, but none to waste: A journal of transition

December 31, 2021

Until I finished my first novel I didn’t think of myself as the kind of writer who would or could write a novel. But, after I finished the first book I started in on the second without even thinking about it, or enduring a moment’s uncertainty about whether I could pull it off. The same may go for memoirs and journals. Outside of a less than half-hearted attempt to keep a journal back in high school this is the first time I’ve tried to write one. I enjoy autobiographies. But the truth is I enjoy autobiographies because I enjoy learning about noteworthy people. Bobby Jones wrote about himself when he was still in his 30s, or maybe even younger. Then again, he was Bobby Jones. I’m 60 now, heading for 61 in April. Things have changed, and a definitive change is coming at the end of 2022. My longtime employers will be closing their law firm. It’s time. Their decision is understandable. One of them is 66 and I think the other is pushing 70. One just lost his wife to cancer and the other’s daughter is battling a form of lymphoma. When the end of the firm finally comes I will only have one emotion…gratitude. Both of my bosses have been more than employers to me. They’ve been friends and will remain friends until that other end. I’ll have more to say about both of them later on, I think. The point is that this journal is about a particular transition, from one job to another, at the time in life where I now find myself. The determinate nature of the transition period allows me to focus and plan for the future but also to experience the days of the coming year in an unusual way. Most big changes hit without notice but this one has announced its impending arrival quite conveniently.

I don’t anticipate this to be a traditional journal. Then again, I don’t know what a traditional journal is like, having never knowingly read one. My anticipation is that it will include more than a few ideas about things I’d like to write. I’m also thinking that it will look back more than I want it to but I’m going to try hard to keep my eyes looking forward. They say a writer has to know the beginning and ending of a novel before sitting down to write it. I agree with that. A journal is a different proposition. No one knows how anyone’s journal will end, even and perhaps especially, their own. There’s a kind of freedom to writing without knowing the ending.

It should be interesting anyway. The year, I mean. No promises about the journal.

Time enough, but none to waste: A journal of transition