Thursday, June 27, 2019

The wheel

I've been in hamster mode all year, I think. I know this because I've made very, very little artwork, and because my eyes hurt often from computer time. It is necessary (though the more I work on the book, the farther away it feels) but it's hard. I should use this picture to practice looking away to see faraway things, like the bird gourd habitats in the distance.

I'm beat! Herb speaks directly to the things we have to do but can't humanly do alone (I can't stop trying, which is why my eyes hurt and there is no new studio output), even as more is demanded of us in the outside world. I keep trying new things, new schedules and routines, but I don't think I can do it all. Right now, I focused on health: sorting out the right exercise, physical therapy, sleep patterns, nutrition, and so on. That takes a huge chunk of time and energy away from writing and making art, while my website migration robbed me of the last few months and counting. Today I sat down to write and all I could do after writing half a page of how much I didn't want to do it, was to scrawl "DRAFT" all over the top of the next page in lots of colors.

I should be excited about the books that showed up at my door yesterday, a volume on papermaking that includes my essay about two toolmakers of almost 20 that I've interviewed. Three years ago, I had an idea. I didn't know at the time that my grand idea would behave like kudzu. I've been alternately productive and paralyzed througout the process because it has gotten so big. Yesterday I read fascinating accounts of one person's great-great-grandfather who fought in the Civil War even though most of that narrative will not make it to the first draft. I feel honored that so many people have been willing to share their lives with me but the responsibility is heavy. What was I thinking?!
But the new book is lovely—read it if you can! A friend yesterday said that it sounded sad, and I laughed, realizing that this is indeed mostly for insiders: "papermaker's tears" refer to the drops of water that accidentally mar the surface of a freshly made sheet of paper. What you see on the cover is someone who intentionally dropped a bunch of water droplets onto paper. Otherwise, I'd be really sad if this was my paper and I ruined it like that. Usually there are only a few "tears," but it's enough in production to mean you can't sell it as a first. All that to say it's not a sad book. It travels to Eastern Europe, India, Japan, NYC, and more. Time for me to travel upstairs for a nap.

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