Monday, January 7, 2019


John La Farge's Stained Glass Window of Helena
                  The weirdness of my life. So I'm hitting 50,000 words on the 2nd draft of the new book, and I can't seem to tear myself away. I could be working twice as hard - doing 2000 words a day, but in my old age I know to pace myself. 
                   You need time to think it through, time to think about the dramatic stuff you could've used but didn't because you are working too fast. You need time to think about your reader and what they don't know. I've been researching this thing for a long time. 
                    I discovered a diary that a young married couple wrote together in NYC in 1874. It was like finding Tolstoy's and his wife's diary that he made her participate in when they were first married- horrible stuff- but this diary was full of love and honesty and kindness no matter what. 
                     I suddenly flashed back to when I went back to work on main campus at USC after being off work for 5 years being a house husband. I was working 60 hour weeks, mostly because I loved the work- all this wheeling and dealing- getting the trains to run on time. And at the same time breaking the ice on this twenty year research. The diary was copied and in the New York City Library. I discovered I could get the entire original for next to nothing as a pdf and spent an hour at ten pm one night printing it off of USC printers- I figured it was the cost of unpaid overtime- I was on salary- if I was there at ten pm it was a wash. 
                       Helena's handwriting was horrible, almost unreadable. But you start to work. USC had an interlibrary loan system. I could get any library book in the world. And I did. I recall sitting out at lunch on a park bench, reading John La Farge's "Reminiscences of the South Seas" in its first edition, with color plates of his watercolors in a beautiful leather bound edition that probably really needed to be in a Special Collection Library somewhere and a VP of USC's that I knew personally stopping by and noticing the book and exclaiming it's beauty. And asking me how I got it. "I checked it out?" 
                         Later at a University Purchasing Conference of mostly Ivy League Schools in Newport, I went early into Boston early to see the Boston collection of Millet paintings that those folks all loved and drove up to Marion on my way to find Helena's summer studio where Gus painted Mrs. Cleveland's portrait.
                         In taking my son back to check out NYU and Stevens Basketball recruiting for college, I left him and went off to find "The Studio" and their Washington Square homes. Anyway, it's all overtime you never got paid for. Wrote and published another couple of books during all this. If you're not having fun, what is there?