"The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera." - Dorothea Lange

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

i am virgo, hear me roar (i mean, fret)

I can’t begin to tell you how much fun I have had making my new book and also how much sleep has been lost over it. I nitpick and fuss a lot when it comes to major undertakings such as this. I can’t help it; I’m a Virgo.

Basically, I have no control over what happens at 3 a.m. when I hop out of bed, head to the computer and begin rearranging sentences in the opening essay. It is simply out of my hands when I call Lindsay, my book designer, minutes after I have signed off on the placement of photos on a page to tell her I need time to reconsider. As painful as it seems to those of you who are not Virgos, I actually relish reviewing my highly organized sock drawer, um, I mean endless drafts of the book.

Some quick research has turned up facts that may help explain why the “drop dead deadline” for the book has passed, and I am still fretting over whether or not to put some of the words on the acknowledgement page in bold or italics.

“A Virgo is a perfectionist. When you tackle a project, you do it right, to the nth degree. You believe you have to be the best at it, so you study, you practice, you go the extra mile, you apply all your little advantages—smarts, hard work, and especially analysis—to get that edge.”

This may explain a few things to those of you who are not Virgos - particularly those who have suffered from my craziness. (You know who you are.)

“You are also very observant and have an eye for detail. This is, of course, how you get your reputation for being fussy and nitpicking - you can see things that other people miss. You are a perfectionist and details are important to you.”

And why they get calls and emails from me (at odd hours) about commas and semi colons.

“You have a great work ethic—you're disciplined, highly organized, punctual and tireless.”

And why it’s pretty much all I’ve thought about and talked about for the past four months.

“There is a painstaking quality to the Virgoan performance that might put a Renaissance iconographer to shame. It is part of the perfectionism that this sign is commonly known for. Virgo is the sign of the master artisan who cares about what he or she is creating. Virgos make the most marvelous artists and architects, possessing an innate eye for detail, perspective, structure and form.”

As I’ve said, this has actually all been great fun for me. Incredibly, I delight in the challenges of assembling all kinds of puzzles, and making a book is just that. Do I have hair left, is any of it still brown, what are these dark things that have formed just beneath my eyes? Ha! It’s not that bad, but I think you get the picture. The “Virgoan performance” is a heavy burden to bear. But, I feel really lucky to be the one doing the bearing. And the feeling I’ll have when the presses start rolling next week, and that first image is put in front of me, glistening with ink and full of so much promise? Well, it’ll be euphoric.

Unless I suddenly begin wondering if a different image should have gone on that page. Which, of course, I will.

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