Beginning a Manuscript
While I am as much in love with Italy’s treasures as
the speaker above, I would not agree that travel “is the ruin of all happiness.”
The pleasures of travel may include antiquities or architectural treasures, but
there is much to savor in one’s home territory. The problem is that we stop
“seeing” what surrounds us.
On the other hand, I have written
about ways in which my art making has been influenced by travel. There have been
visits to extraordinary places and to ordinary places that became extraordinary
because of experiences. August 2011 Judy’s
Journal is one example, May 2005 is another.
I never know where inspiration for a poem, a painting or a personal essay
is waiting. When the work is done, and I have enough poems or paintings that have
something in common, I gather them into a manuscript or an exhibition. My artist’s
book, Reciprocity, is a combination of two genres: images from my paintings
and their reciprocally-inspired poems (2007 November).
A Brush with Words, my collection of art-related poems, is complete,
although it is still without a publisher.
It may not seem practical to
begin another manuscript, but an idea came to me last month. What if I were to
create a three-genre manuscript using the theme of travel? The book would include
three genres: personal essays, poems and paintings. A patchwork of text and image,
all about travel!
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.
Where to begin? Right
here. For the past seven years, Judy’s Journal has been a place to think
through many projects. I write to learn what I am thinking, in the way that Donald
M. Murray instructed me.
The first step is to GATHER
EVERYTHING I have that even remotely relates to travel. The list begins like this:
1. My first book of poetry, Gestures of Trees (2000), is out-of-print
and the copyright has reverted back to me. There are travel poems in there.
2. A Brush with Words has some travel poems that could find their way
into this manuscript.
3. My black binder, a repository for drafts of unfinished
poems, may offer some possibilities.
4. My handwritten travel journals
could be the source of new poems and personal essays.
5. Several Judy’s
Journals could find their way into this manuscript.
6. Images! So many
paintings, although usually not literal reports of what I saw while traveling,
could find a home in this manuscript. My Landscape Mosaic series (2008 August)
is one source to look at.
Crystal ball, I see a lot of reading and a lot
of looking in my future.
The second step would be to
shake everything up and see how many categories fall out. I see lots of blank
white paper and conceptual map building in my future. And lists. Lots of lists.
The third step would be to refine groups, adding and
deleting, until I begin to see a critical mass that looks as if it could be a
I know that revisions to all poems and personal essays will
be a constant in this equation.
This will be a very long process. But
it’s time to begin.