Kitchen Window People: A Kitchen Table Creation

I recently had the joy of collaborating with the fabulously talented artist Estella Camelion on “Kitchen Window People,” her first art  book (and mine!). What a lovely journey for both of us! Estella has been creating amazing art work for decades and was eager to collate some of her works into a book. I was eager to diversify my editing work into additional genres. And working with a talented artist? Sign me up!

Estella and I met at a conference a few months ago, and our booths were across from each other. We hit it off immediately. She asked me to help her with her art book so it would be ready in time for a major show she was invited to in Nashville, and I was delighted!

The book’s tkitchen window peopleitle is “Kitchen Window People,” and the process of creating the book actually took place around her kitchen table! I made several trips to her amazing 1901 farmhouse in rural Alabama, where we collaborated on putting this stunning book together among a lot of brainstorming, giggles, and perhaps a few jaunts through her lovely farm full of blueberries, figs, peaches, apples, glorious flowers and stately trees. ‘The Professor’ — her soulmate — joined the effort with his great technological experience and good ideas.

Estella had a vision for her book – an essential for any good author. She’d selected the cover of her book (above, left) — a very canny choice, given the book’s spiritual (but not religious) contents. I helped her develop a system for organizing the zillions of possible of art pieces to include in the book and worked on a significant portion of the writing.

As we sat around her kitchen table, something  magic happened: We talked. We brainstormed face to face. We played with the possibilities. We weren’t creating a book by e-mail or Skype or texts or electronically shared files. In terms of the editing and collaboration process, “Kitchen Window People” was a kitchen table book, created in an atmosphere of eye contact, genuine camaraderie, laughter and mutual joy and excitement. (And yes, no book would be complete without its fair share of frustration — but there wasn’t much of that with this one!) Estella and I formed an immediate connection from our first meeting at the conference where we met, and it soared in our collaboration. At times, we found each other saying exactly what the other was thinking; sometimes, we sputtered our identical ideas at the same time. Almost always, it felt like this book and Estella’s art  work, along with my words and coaching, created a sort of energetic thread that connected us to each other and to the work — like we were channeling through the art with synchronicity.

It’s practically impossible to collaborate on a book nowadays without technology playing an overwhelming and sometimes even intrusive role. All the work I do for my clients is truly inspiring, but this project was unique. How often do collaborators sit at a kitchen table, work tirelessly for hours (days? weeks?), laugh loudly, and now and then, slip out to pop a few freshly ripened, dew-dropped blueberries into our mouths and get back to work? Short of a few phone calls, that’s basically how Estella and I collaborated on “Kitchen Window People.”

Around the kitche20140715_165826n table — and occasionally, with a few telephone calls — Estella allowed me to help her create a book that awes me. Beautiful, spiritual, heartfelt, joyous, thought-provoking, insightful, powerful and deep, working on this book and in her presence fed my soul.

Deadline was very much on our minds, but it wasn’t the ultimate driver in an incredible outcome. We decided to use few words in the book and let the art do most of the talking to its readers, because the art will speak differently to each person. Estella’s work will resonate with its readers from their own perspectives, but her observations in the book give us a glimpse of how her drawings (and her subjects) spoke to her. (Note the working copy of Estella’s art work to the left. She summarizes the message that this particular work speaks to her in the note tag below it: “This mother holds two gifts, and she is having a moment of reflection. One gift is not awake yet.” ) Which of the reader’s gifts is not awake yet?

This experience reminds me that technology, while imperative to creating an amazing literary work, may not be as non-negotiable or efficient as we often trick ourselves into believing. None of Estella’s images are computer generated — she drew the pictures herself, and her soulmate simply scanned them with no tweaks, editing or enhancements. As technology becomes more and more important in self-publishing, let’s not forget the joy — the kitchen table joy — of creating all of our art with love and laughter.

Estella and I spoke by phone on Saturday. We laughed and laughed. Yeah, we talked about the book. But most of all, we talked about the joy. I didn’t tell Estella, but I sometimes  wonder if the joy makes the book. Not the other way around.

For more information about “Kitchen Window People,” visit http://tinyurl.com/ljesjab. Please also see the “Kitchen Window People” page on this blog for more information on the back story of of this book.

Love and Basketball . . . And Inspired Writing

Uncle Ed by SAM  PHOTO

Here is a brilliant example of the difference between writing as a function and writing as a joy — how writing from the heart and with passion has the power to move readers to emotionally inspired physical reactions, such as laughter and tears. Below, an exceptional young man joins the ranks of writers who remind us that the power to move others through the finely crafted written word is completely unrelated to age.

By Sam Rapp

Life is full of numbers by which we measure ourselves. For some, it is a number that follows a dollar sign. For people my age, it is the number preceding the three letters GPA. For basketball players, it’s the amount of points scored. We assign value to ourselves using these abstract numbers, and often lose sight of the numbers that are truly important.
When talking about my grandfather, Dr. Ed Wiener (or Poppy as many know him), there are plenty of numbers that come to mind. There’s the 1,212 points he scored during his four year career at the University of Tennessee while wearing number 19. There’s the 55 years that he’s been practicing dentistry, and the 80 years that he’s been alive. He’s 6’3″, lives at 123 Croley Rd., and wears a size 13 shoe. But these aren’t the numbers by which he measures himself. These are all just stats to him.
If you were to ask him, he’d bring up the 55 wonderful years he’s spent married to my grandmother. He’d bring up 12/02/1960, the day he became a father to his first child Craig, and 06/18/1962, when he first set eyes upon his daughter Tracy. He’d talk about 21, 19, and 15, the ages of his three grandchildren, and then spend countless hours talking about all of us. Poppy is unique in that the only numbers that matter to him are the ones that connect him to the people he loves and the people who love him.
Today he was honored as an SEC legend from the University of Tennessee for all of his athletic accomplishments and stats from his college days. But his legend goes way beyond those numbers, and way beyond the SEC.
(Reprinted With Permission – some minor edits added to protect personal information.)

25 Independent Presses That Prove This Is the Golden Age of Indie Publishing

Flavorwire

Independent publishing — that is, publishing whatever an individual or small group think is worthy of dumping their time and money into — is nothing new. From Virginia and Leonard Woolf starting up Hogarth Press to the early days of Farrar, Straus and Giroux championing now-iconic authors that other publishers wouldn’t touch, DIY publishing has long been responsible for some of our best literature.

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