One of the hardest lessons I had to learn in my creative career was that the last few details take almost as much time as the main process – and it turns out be much the same case with publishing. However, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and as far as I can tell it’s not the headlight to an oncoming locomotive.
The checklist for finishing “The Life and Times of A Midnight Son” isn’t too overwhelming:
- Three interior illustrations
- Cover artwork
- Final edit
We still have to hammer out marketing details but for now I will share the the illustration that accompanies the final chapter.
(Be honest – after reading that title visions of anthropomorphic movie snacks dancing across the screen while singing “Let’s all go to the lobby…” popped into your head.)
If it seems like new material has been a bit sparse lately you’re not mistaken – I’ve been caught up in some other endeavors that have taken me away from my keyboard. Some of these activities involve visual art, but my biggest iron in the creative fire is a book project that should see print sometime between now and the Fourth of July. It involves reworking my stories from 1962 to 1967 into a volume dealing with growing up in Alaska in the 1960s.
More than that I’d rather not say, other than it will be available in both e-book and dead-tree versions. I’m also doing the cover and interior spot illustrations.
I will keep you posted.
These members of the Monastery of the Mendicant Equine Brotherhood of Mary our Lady of Garound will figure prominently in Dog King John and the Stolen Syrup…
…where they are often referred to as “The Poor Horsemen of Notre Dame”
As promised listed below are the sources for the quotes listed in my 19 NOV 2018 post:
“Gentlemen, we’ve got a date with destiny, and it looks like she’s ordered the lobster” by Neil Cuthbert and Bob Burden in the 1999 movie Mystery Men
“Mists soft and transparent as excuses flapped across pastures the color of crap-table felt” P.J. O’Rourke from the chapter on Paraguay in his 1992 book Give War A Chance.
“She had that mistreated and neglected look, like an encyclopedia that had been owned by stupid people”. A pre-Dragnet Jack Webb from the radio show Pat Novak for Hire
“I’m not saying it’s been too windy, but there’s a witch’s feet sticking out from under the house and everything’s in color: by Steve Pritzker in the “A Dark and Stormy Night” episode of the TV series Silver Spoons
“He’s so (expletive deleted) dense – this morning after formation I caught him sitting in the cab of his deuce-and-a-half trying to read an M&M” informal job performance evaluation submitted by 2LT David Ralph Deitrick during JRX BRIM FROST 1981
It takes a certain level of hubris to “live out loud”1 as a columnist or blogger – you have to have a fair amount of confidence in your ability to crunch words in an effective and entertaining way. I do a pretty fair job, but there are times when I’m taken down a notch or two – humbling moments that involve me coming up against a passage in someone else’s work that just so FREAKING GOOD it knocks me back on my literary fourth-point-of-contact
…passages like the following:
- “Gentlemen, we’ve got a date with destiny, and it looks like she’s ordered the lobster
- “Mists soft and transparent as excuses flapped across pastures the color of crap-table felt”
- “She had that mistreated and neglected look, like an encyclopedia that had been owned by stupid people”.
- “I’m not saying it’s been too windy, but there’s a witch’s feet sticking out from under the house and everything’s in color:
- “He’s so dense – this morning after formation I caught him sitting in the cab of his deuce-and-a-half trying to read an M&M”
Recognize any of them?
I’ll share the sources in a day or two.
A phrase shamelessly horked from superstar columnist Anna Quindlen.
It’s tough maintaining a social life when you’re stuck in a studio most of the time, so it’s a real treat when an unexpected “frent” (friend event) happens in my life. It’s even better when more than one of these “frents” happen in short order, which is exactly what came about this last month.
The first good news involves Oscar Hokeah, a digital-age friend whom I’ve never physically met but who shares a love for accurately launching words in the same way an expert marksman likes to hit the “ten-ring”. Oscar just got a book deal and while most writers write because word-crunching is woven into their DNA it’s always nice to get some of that external validation1.
The other “frent” involves a buddy from years ago, and by “years ago” I mean decades. Dave Doering was a fellow member of The Happy Valley Space Academy 2 a loose-knit group of artists and fans living in the Provo-Orem area in the late 1980s. We’d meet once a month to socialize and share our work but Dave wasn’t above about stopping by during the month as well…and more importantly wasn’t above serving as an impromptu model when I needed reference material and the deadline was short.
Dave is a writer/podcaster interested in the fan/mundane interface and since the early 1980’s has been instrumental in both the establishment and conduct of a writer’s conference dubbed Life, The Universe and Everything. Dave and I lost contact when my family and I left Utah Valley in 1987 and I was pleasantly surprised to get a phone call from him during an otherwise dismal week.
Below is an example of a last-minute modeling job Dave sat in on:
I spent a good portion of the 1970s working as a roustabout for Chevron USA out at the Swanson River Oil Field on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. T.H. Auldridge was the gang foreman, and I give him as much credit as any other human being for anything I may have become or accomplished in my life. He fought across Europe as a tank destroyer commander during WWII, and despite the lack of a college education or any sort of management training, he was one of the best leaders and smartest men I have ever known.
He was Texas-born & bred and as such was prone to uttering “colorful” observations on life, most of which are not printable in this particular forum. Of the ones that were printable my favorite was “The next time you think you’re a big deal just try to give an order to another man’s dog”,
I’ve had that principle reinforced in my life countless times in every field of endeavor I have worked in – especially in my creative work. During all the years I worked as a freelance illustrator I took pride in my work, especially my 100+ game covers and the conceptual designs I did for BattleTech, Traveller and most recently the Gun Kingdom books written by R. Scott Taylor. I look at those images as my signature work, but do you know what my most heavily published, wide-spread work is?
From 1998 to 2008 Lori and I created linework for a series of kid’s puzzles published by Patch Products. We would create black & white line images that in-house artists would scan/shade/color via Photoshop for use in puzzles sold through Wal-Mart.
That’s right – those 11”X17” kid’s puzzles that are bundled and shrink-wrapped eight-to-a-package? The ones displayed on the end-caps of the toy aisles.
That means that years from now when the gophers are bringing me the mail I won’t be remembered for BattleTech, or Star Trek licensed work or the fine art I create – I will be memorialized by insects, dinosaurs and cars.
…and as much as I’d like to think that my writing will make more of an impact that my art, I am jolted back to reality whenever I check stats on this page. It’s not the stories from my youth, the commentaries on music or reflections on life that get the most attention. The single post that gets the most views – the one piece of writing that has been seen the most by people around the world.
Title page for the aforementioned book I’m writing for my grandchildren. As you can see here and in other images from the book the linework and type are not perfect – and there’s a reason for that. I’m producing this in the “old-school” manner much like we did forty years ago. I’m using my computer strictly as a stat camera/typositor – all the drawings are done with pencil, pen and template as is the line work and graphic devices. I’m placing the type by hand and designing “by eye”.
You’ll also occasionally see stray construction lines that I’ve left in.
Some people dress in period costume and live in restored villages as a means of “living history”. This project it my way of doing so as well.
I’m still not totally skilled at handling multiple on-line venues. I have this blog, a Facebook page and a “Fans of The Art of David Deitrick” Facebook page that my good friend Scott Taylor instigated a couple of years back. I shell out $5.00 a month for a page on Freelanced.com and I have a LinkedIn account but I do very little with it – their major selling point is “Where not Facebook” which doesn’t inspire much confidence in me.
My point? Not everything I post is pertinent to every one of these forums so I try to carefully pick and choose what goes where. Odds are what I post here will also go to my main Facebook page but not always to the “Fans of” page. That also means that sometimes material gets to the other pages…but not here. One example is a nice 180 degree video sweep that I made of my new studio that got to Facebook but not here.
This was taken a couple of weeks ago – since that time I’ve stored a little more stuff and added a printer/scanner, but for all intents and purposes this is my studio now …and it a the most “right” working space I’ve ever had.
For my whole life there’s been this running gun battle between words and images.
The ability to write and draw with an equal facility posed no problems in my youth but when it came time to declare a college major I went against my natural inclination and chose visual art instead of writing, I made that choice based on one very important fact: Distractions are not a problem when I make images. While I am painting I can also:
- Listen to music
- Watch a video
- Carry a conversation
On the other hand I have to be sitting in a monastery to write. Well, maybe not an actual monastery, but the place has to be pin-drop quiet with no distractions whatsoever.
Even more confusing? When it comes to painting I freely admit I am not stellar material. I’m a good draftsman, a good sculptor and had I stumbled into cut-paper sculpture earlier I’d be rich and famous, but I always knew that when it came to traditional illustration I was a “B-Lister” at best. I compensated for that lack by working extremely hard, but the fact is that when it came to making images my concept always surpassed my execution.
I’ve never felt that way about my writing – not that I am cocky about it, just confident. It helped that during all those years focused on images I never completely stopped crunching words:
- I’ve kept the same journal going consistently from 1972
- I’ve edited newsletters in just about every religious or secular organization I’ve belonged to.
- In the service was the “go-to” guy for writing recommendations for awards and fitness reports.
…and I borrowed a tool from my image-maker tool kit. I work hard at my craft. While he might not seem the most obvious choice, Teddy Roosevelt has always been an inspiration for me in the way he fought his childhood weaknesses with hard work and a vigorous life style. As an artist I knew that my only compensation of lack of talent was hard work. If a classmate spent three hours on a project I spent six. If a competing illustrator put twenty hours into a cover I’d spend thirty or forty. While I don’t spend quite so many hours on my work now, most of what I publish (especially the autobiographical stories) is the product of careful craftsmanship and word-crunching.
It may be that I overwork my word-crunching at times. I do know that it slows down my output which isn’t a problem until I get sick and lose a week or two, at which point I start to lose followers as well. My original intent with the blog was to have kind of an A/B schedule, with the “A” stories extensively crafted multi-page productions and the “B” stories being made up of shorter more off-the-cuff observations.
Maybe I need an A/B/B/A schedule….but as I’ve already weathered the disco storm once, so on that note I will wish you a good day.
( If you were born after 1970 you probably won’t get the joke…)