Thursday then, eh? Already?
The last few weeks have been a blur, and seem to have gone by in a flash (like a fast blur). I have dozens of personal emails to answer, several voicemails to return, and many thank-you cards to write. For I must say again, until I can get to them, thank you — thank you for all the little things, the bubble bath, the chocolates, the sweetest notes and cards, all of the sweet little things. I'm touched beyond words by the donations to animal organizations that have been made in Audrey's name. I'm really . . . wow. People. My heart is so soggy. I have so many feelings about the last month. It's hard not to believe that everything's going to be alright when you know there are friends like you all, all over the place, little Swiss dots of love, sprinkled down everywhere. Look how that helps. Thank you. For helping me feel like that again.
The reality is that the book is getting finished, fast and furiously, as I enter the last month, the homestretch of my steeplechase, for it has felt like a steeplechase, thrilling and too fast, hooves pounding, mud and sticks flying. Many, many times over the past few months I've thought I might just ride the horse right off the track and out into the forest — Goodbye! Goodbye! I can't do this!
So when I look at my desk and see the huge stack of paper that is the almost-finished manuscript and its giant companion-pile of projects I feel liquefied with relief. My technical editor on this book is my former boss from years ago, when I worked in publishing myself — I was able to hire her to work with me and I am so grateful that I've had her expertise to guide me throughout this summer. Ellen has worked in the industry for almost thirty years. I was hired by her and became her protege when I started as a production editor myself. We worked together for three years. She taught me everything I know about how books become books — we are both traditionalists, and I loved being trained in the old ways. I always wanted that. It is a small miracle that we are here, exactly ten years after our first meeting in August of 1997, working together again on something that means so much to me now. I have learned a million things in the past few months, and at times the lessons have been painful! Some days have been great, some days have been impossibly hard.
But when I am working on this book I am transported to that time years ago when I sat in my little office with my green banker's lamp and proofed page after page of manuscripts and layouts, sentences and paragraphs and photos that would become books about bush pilots, wild birds, the medicinal herbs of Alaska, and felt like I was in heaven. I was so excited when I got that job and I loved it so much when I was there. Sometimes, over the past seven years since I left, I've thought that I'd like to be there again, back in the office with my friends, a pile of chores where I know just what needs to be done and how to do it. But working on my own book now, after all these years of sewing and not thinking about books very much, has changed my life. I see now that it is exactly the right thing for me to do, weaving up both those sides of my life in a seam that feels exactly right. And I almost never feel like that.
The draft ms. is on its way to being finished, the projects are almost finished, the photo shoots have started, the kids are passing in front of my camera, populating the special little world that the projects inhabit in my imagination, making it real-ish. Turns out, photographing kids is, oh, a million times harder than I thought? A billion? Of course, it's also a billion times more fun, but Oh! you cross your fingers when you look at those thumbnails, I tell ya. I don't have as much experience shooting people as I do shooting jars of cloudberry jam. If the project is in focus, the kid has his eyes closed. If the kid looks cute, the project is upside down. If the kid looks cute and the project's front and center, it's all unfocused because someone was laughing (could be the kid, could be me). My great reward will be shooting still-lifes. I didn't know how easy we had it, me and my crochet, my sock pups, my quilts that just sit there for hours and hours, patiently waiting for me to get what I want. But you know I wouldn't have it any other way, giggles and dog-and-pony kisses and all.