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

January 5: A brief detour

I know most of you had your hearts set on three or four hundred more words about the future of my music collection but I need to make a brief detour. Today I woke up thinking about what’s next. My promise to myself was to milk every one of 2022’s days to the fullest, and I’m still about that. The problem with thinking about what’s next is that it takes one out of the present and the present is all any of us have. No matter, what’s next is what I was thinking about.

I’ve been a paralegal who moonlights doing marketing and ad copy writing for a long time. I’m Ok with both but supporting myself on the marketing gig alone strikes me as a dubious proposition. Sure, I like macaroni and cheese but not for all three meals. The problem with the paralegal game is twofold. First, I’m old. It’s hard to imagine a bunch of firms being into hiring a 61 plus year old with a boatload of experience. Of course, I’m only in need of one job so a bunch of firms is unnecessary. The other problem is me. I’m only willing to do certain kinds of legal work (read: plaintiff) and I have no interest in ever, ever having another long commute that relies on public transportation or sitting in traffic while the second or third best years of my life slip quietly away.

Then there’s the internet and the idea of a being a freelancer. I’m at least somewhat comfortable with that idea having worked with freelancers quite a bit over the years and even getting some of my writing gigs through elance (now Upwork). That would be workable except for the 800 pound gorilla; medical insurance. Over the last fifteen years my insurance (which has been mercifully and graciously paid for by my employers) has gone from a shade over $200 a month to well over $1000.

We all know that there’s something fundamentally wrong with that kind of increase and we all know there’s not a thing we can do about it. Car insurance? Relatively steady over the same period. Medical? How about double the cost, then triple then $1000, then more. Well, I did get a prescription for my dermatitis. Thank God for the Affordable Care Act. I cannot imagine the slaughter we would all be facing without it.

So, those are the thoughts I had when my sleepy eyes opened this morning. I’d rather have woken up worrying about what to do with my damn LPs.

Oh well, there’s always tomorrow.

By the way, I can write a little about music today: While I’m writing this I’m listening to one of my earlier iTunes purchases from way back in 2006, Björn Olsson’s The Lobster. It’s been a while since I’ve listened to this and it’s cool to be reminded by just how clever and musical it is. It sounds like an otherworldly and unheard soundtrack to an unreleased Sergio Leone film, almost as if Ennio Morricone was born in Gotebörg, Sweden rather than Rome. There’s no flash and dazzle to Olsson’s style though his guitar playing is elemental and beautiful. He’s confident to let his songs bring the message, just the way I like it.

The source, you ask? My iPhone 11 streaming to my Skullcandy Crusher Evo. Damn nice and, yes, I do think I’ll write about these headphones someday soon.

Björn Olsson The Lobster

January 5: A brief detour