3 min read

Who's to blame?

It's hard to reconcile the lack of interest with my absolute belief that what I'm doing is worth sharing with others.
Who's to blame?

I've started laying out Paint-by-Numbers. I haven't heard back from any of the presses I cold-called about putting it out and don't expect to. They don't want what I do yet I can't stop doing it. Looks like the printer in Michigan will be getting another order from me in a few weeks.

It's hard to reconcile the lack of interest with my absolute belief that what I'm doing is worth sharing with others. I hadn't looked at the manuscript in a couple months while I waited for Christian to look it over. We met at the bar and, aside from a few minor line edits, he didn't have too many big quibbles. I know better than to keep poking editors about whether they actually like what I write. And most who work with me know that whatever they say I'm going to do it my way anyhow.

I'm trying out a new design program to put the book together. So far, it's working okay. Its chief attribute is that it's not called InDesign and it's not made by Adobe. Meaning, I paid one time to buy it rather than shaking me down monthly and I don't get the feeling a sadistic mathematician made the thing to torture me. It's still unintuitive to someone who struggles with technology. But then again I feel that way about anything that's not paper or paint. Sometimes I feel it about those as well.

It's been about a year and a half since I designed a book. I'm surprised to discover I'm enjoying it. It's a very different engagement with word and image than writing or painting. It's closer to collage. Cut and paste. It makes me see the material with fresh eyes.

After working on the thing most of a day, I ride my bike downtown to Orchestra Hall to catch Cécile McLorin Salvant. My friend Stan is an usher there so I get in for free. Orchestra Hall is not my favorite place. A bunch of sad and bad memories, plus they mostly feature classical music which has violins. But I love Salvant's singing. She makes show tunes bearable. She even makes a Sting number compelling. That qualifies her as some kind of sorceress.

But not even a magician can overcome the staid stodginess of her surroundings. This is just not my scene. There are barriers to the immediacy I need to be really into the sounds. Too much etiquette. Too much architecture. Plus, Salvant lets her band play too much. They're fine, but I didn't come here to see them. Still, when she lets loose, it's a thing of beauty. Such a clear voice.

I bike home and dive back into Paint-by-Numbers. It will not be a long book but it will be book-shaped and book-sized. There will be many pictures for the non-readers, as always.

I look forward to sharing the book with you not too long from now.

—I got my cassettes and listened and didn't hate it, so maybe you'll like it. If you buy one, you don't even need a cassette player since each comes with a digital download. You can display the tape cover on your mantelpiece, bookshelf, or curio cabinet and be the envy of the neighborhood...

—Listen to my talk with the writer/artist Sam Pink and catch the one with Dr. Sonia Weiner on Wednesday. I post new ones every week. Entire archive here.