I’m finishing up the final proofs of my fifth book today, The Beader’s Guide to Jewelry Design.
An array of mixed feelings accompanies the end of creating a project this big. I’ve been working on it for over 2 years. I wrote it, shot most of the photography, designed it, illustrated it, and produced the files for the printer (did everything except the cover). The Beader’s Guide to Jewelry Design was a massive undertaking.
In reading the entire book for proofing I relived the 2-year process in fleeting flashbacks. I remembered where my life was when I began the illustrated tables for the “Jewelry and The Body” chapter. I remember the incident with my young nephew that inspired the beginning of the “Shape” chapter. He’s 2 years older now. I wonder if, when he gets older, he’ll be embarrassed by it. I thought back on who I was when I began the book… a different person than I am now.
I did something I’ve not done in previous books. I was more personal: I included more of my personal creative journey and vulnerability in the pages. I wanted the the reader to feel like I was sitting with them at the kitchen table having an excited discussion about design. Maybe over a glass of wine, with pen and paper in hand. When I read the book cover to cover yesterday I realized I had achieved that. I was thoroughly engaged in the text, even though I already know what it says. I enjoyed reading it. That’s what I want for the reader: not only to learn and be changed by the content, I want them to enjoy themselves.
When I finished my first book, Out On A Loom (self published), I was bouncing off the walls with excitement. The novelty of it being my First still colored my thoughts and emotions, even though it was 15 months in the making.
My second book, The Beader’s Guide to Color (Watson-Guptill), took over 4 years to create because most of it was written at night and on weekends. After shipping the final proofs I was shocked to find myself depressed and disoriented. I felt like my child left me. I’d known every minute detail of her life– every comma, every word, every picture, diagram, illustration and concept– intimately. When, a few weeks later, I couldn’t remember which page a particular photo appeared, I burst into tears realizing she was slipping further and further away. I felt like something so precious was gone forever. It was. The process of creating a book is the true joy if it. Not having done it. Holding a vision, creating it, and manifesting it in the very best way I can is one of my greatest joys in life.
Finishing Beading Her Image, my 3rd book (self-published), was different. When you self publish, the end isn’t as abrupt and final as sending proofs back to a publisher. You and the printer work back and forth through printing. You market like crazy, morning noon and night. (Actually, you market like crazy regardless of who publishes the book — if you want sell any copies.) Then you get busy clearing out space and stacking thousands of books in 25 – 30 lb boxes somewhere you’ll be able to reach them. And then, if you’ve done you’re marketing, you start packaging and shipping. You turn the music up very loud and you spend days and days packaging and shipping. And you wish you’d been doing more yoga and strength training the last 2 years.
My 4th, The Beader’s Color Palette (Watson-Guptill) was another 2+ year project and I was determined not to be depressed afterwards. Turns out I wasn’t. So much was going on in my life at the time that required focus. And since it was my 4th book, I knew the ropes. And since resources had been depleted in its creation, I got back to work that actually brought money into the bank account (creating a book costs time and money).
The process of creating a book becomes almost all-consuming for me. I love the intensity of focus. And I love it for long periods of time. I’m so fulfilled when I can plumb the depths of both my creativity and my medium, be it words, color, beads, or paint. Much of this latest book is about just that: plumbing the depths of creativity (in the form of jewelry design). The joy of becoming a master at one’s art. The passion and sheer joy of creation.