Photo Credit: Jennie Anne Benigas



March 2012

“Anyone who has seen a book grow from concept to packing box knows that it begins with an idea. Accompanied by a flood of energy. Followed by a massive to-do list that sorts down into discreet tasks. Set on a timeline. Supported by detailed planning, mixed with a high dose of flexibility and tolerance for problems. Held together by a lot of rumination.” Judy’s Journal, 2011 October.



Progress Report: The 3-Genre Travel Manuscript

Dear Reader,

The quotation above from my 2011 October journal is the roadmap for my life, as much as it relates to this manuscript. However, in addition to this new manuscript, I continue making new paintings (more later about a second "new" series), planning a solo exhibit for May, volunteering for the Stanley Kunitz Boyhood Home docent program, and balancing a heavy load of a million other things. This, you may notice, is not uncommon for people living in today’s speed-driven, get-it-done-by yesterday society.

A strategy for sanity that keeps me on track is to make a concept web with oval shapes for each major commitment. Inside the oval, I write the BIG topic: WRITING, for example. Then I list projects and sub-projects around each oval. When I complete something, I have the pleasure of highlighting it in my colour-du-jour. Quite a thrill. If you think it’s compulsive, please understand that without that visual touchstone hanging next to my computer screen, I’d go mad. Or more mad.

Usually I approach work days in a priority-driven way: most important things with nearer deadlines first. This time, I sorted out my week by identifying studio days and writing days. I feel relatively happy that it’s been several weeks of actually staying fairly close to this arrangement.

Now on to the 3-genre travel manuscript progress report.

In October, I knew that much of the ground work would be to identify what I already had. Yesterday, I finished searching all of my existing poems for travel themes. Long story short, I have 19. You’d think I’d be happier. Well, I am, sort of.

I wrote this in October: “I know that revisions to all poems and Judy’s Journals (personal essays) will be a constant in this equation.” I found that poems I considered “almost there” are; to get them “there” is daunting Hours. And hours. One poem in particular felt like an albatross because endings I tried didn’t ring true. I wish I could be more specific, but there it is. Resolution: I will stop whining and keep my antennae up for whatever will feel right. On the other hand, I have to admit that it’s fun to revise. So, 19 travel poems from my total output might work. That felt good for a start.

Next: on to counting all the Judy’s Journals with a travel subject. What do you know: 20! Now to transfer the files and begin revising. Some of it will be cosmetic - delete the letter format (or will I?), then delete non-travel references. I should end up with…who knows until I actually do it?

The third genre is travel paintings. How will I use the images? What does the book look like in my imagination? I don’t really know yet, BUT a count of paintings inspired by travel is 85. Yup. I get overwhelmed by that number, don’t you? And I am not even a plein air painter! But there you have it: 85. To make matters more complicated, I seem to be making a new series inspired by last year’s trip to Sicily. There are three so far…hummm…

Then a thunderbolt struck! My transfer and ink series, “Autobiography” hasn’t finished with me yet, even though I thought I was done with 26 of them under my belt (2011 February). A big “What if” emerged: What if I were to use transfers of etchings from “the masters” who worked in countries we had visited? Rembrandt! Hogarth! Goya! And on and on. Each image would be tangled in my ink drawings! Phone and credit card in hand, I ordered what I needed. This consistent body of work would form the visual scaffold for my travel manuscript. How many will I make? How many will I end up using? Hummmm.

News flash: a great title came to me while listening to a CD discussion of Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra. In Act V, Cleopatra describes her beloved Marc Antony:

His face was as the heavens; and therein stuck

A sun and moon, which kept their course,

And lighted

The little O, the earth.

Is not the last line a perfect title for a travel manuscript? Don’t beat me to it!