Patience and Photo Cubes

The last couple months, I’ve been working on an oddball project that is proving quite time-consuming. I’m maybe half done, and already I could have written another novella in the hours I’ve spent on this. Sue’s folly?

It turns out that there are different kinds of patience, just as there are different kinds of intelligence. For example, I am quite happy to clock countless hours using Adobe Illustrator to mangle innocent bits of text. However, when I confront what will probably cost mere minutes to solve a print/sizing glitch, I stall out.

And it’s all for the love of photo cubes. Sue’s folly.

You’ve probably seen a photo cube. It sits on a desk with a picture on each face. Typically it lives in a cubicle. It’s a cheap plastic thing and yet. It’s awesome in a special way.

For a while now I’ve been preoccupied, pondering the possibilities of photo cubes. I used one to make a 3D collage of beach tar photos. Not an easy cube to like, apparently. Not many of us did:

tarcube

Yet my fascination with the cubes persists. Once upon a recent beach walk, I realized that I could put a poem on a cube, 1 verse on each of the 6 sides. I further realized that Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky would be great for this. (True, it has 7 verses. But the 7th matches the 1st.)

I next realized that I could combine my loves of typography and Adobe Illustrator:  I could mess with text to decorate the cubed poem. I would not presume to attempt illustration, as John Tenniel’s originals are among the greatest illustrations ever. Here is his Jabberwock (tinted by Fritz Kredel) from the 1946 Random House edition of Through the Looking Glass:

JabberColor

Armed with my realizations, I got to work. First I took the cube template from my beach tar cube and made that a background layer:

template

When I print something designed within this template, I can cut-then-fold the paper to create a cube… Hmm. Does such basic paper folding qualify as origami?

Early on, I had to decide rotations – how each verse would flow into the next on the cube:

lineuplines

That turned out to be the only engineering aspect that I enjoyed.

I’ve had tons of fun with the decorating – with interpreting Carroll’s special words and pondering the details of this fantastic unique poem.  I’m astonished at how many hours I’ve happily spent, taking unsuspecting text (mostly in the Didot font) and doing strange distorted things to it. I typically try and scrap 10 effects, for every 1 that I keep. Here is a snapshot of the current draft of the 1st verse:

firstface

On every cube side I’ve still got many tweaks to make. Relocating, resizing. For example, I need to rearrange this text, because the bloody bbs need to end at burbled (No wonder I love this project. Where else would I utter that phrase?):

newbs

I really like how I portrayed the death of the monster. Oh. Spoiler alert. The Jabberwock gets chopped by a blade. Here’s a snapshot of the death scene:

anotherslaincloseup

I don’t usually discuss my work in progress, but in this case I’m going public in hopes of nudging myself to the finish line. Part of me wants to give up and set this cube aside – it feels, I dunno, frivolous. Not what I should be doing. Whatever the hell that is…

(I’m a writer, so I should be writing, right? Okay, I am writing. I’m working on the final book in my speculative detective series, FRAMES. I’d also like to be writing something that deeply resonates in Our Situation. But when it comes to our pandemic. Woah. Dude. is as far as I’m getting.)

I’m frustrated by some of the things that aren’t going well in my Jabbercube project. For example, the printed, cut, and folded draft cube has some faces that are a titch too wide. The paper cube buckles when I slide it into the plastic cube. This didn’t happen with the tar project. I thought I’d done everything the same. Sigh. I hate that kind of fussy refinement stuff.

cubefolding

Also, early in the project I knew I was making effects that were too subtle to show up on a 3.5 inch cube. I opted to keep going, to find designs that worked best, and think about format later. But now it’s time.  I need to smallify some of the existing decorations so they will play well on the cube. But I don’t want to scrap any of the existing decorations. Which means I’ll need to expand those and move them into a larger format like a poster or booklet.

So! How about that! The one enormous project has split into two branches!

For both branches, I still need to come up with the right, overall design element. Something that sets off each cube face, something that says “Hi, I am a cube face” (or “Yo, I am a page”). I’ve tried/discarded several elements already. No clue how long until I hit upon one that I like. Now, this is a kind of experimenting that I do enjoy. But. I’m starting to hear a clock tick when I sit down to work on this. I don’t have a deadline but I’ve got so many other projects I want to start!

Admittedly, part of my impatience to be done comes from a fantasy that I had, when the world went into lockdown and many of my favorite musicians began performing music at #livefromhome. This hashtag gave an open invitation for anybody to share what they’ve done while stuck at home. I love that idea! Nobody wants to hear me sing or play an instrument. However, I listen to #livefromhome music while I work on this cube. So I imagined that I would share the cube. But the rate things are going, the lockdown will come and go and I’ll still be cubing.

(I assume I don’t need to add: of course I want the lockdown to end!)

OK, maybe it’s time to go move some bloody bbs.

(I wrote this in response to Discover Prompt Day 21: Instrument.)

Ghosts of the Morning

Low-angle, early morning light in my home reveals mysterious ghostly presences where mere furniture and structure otherwise stand.

Inside the China cabinet…

ghostcabinetclose

…Now, this ghost seems explicable. It seems to live in my grandmother’s sole surviving crystal glass:

ghostcabinetwide

But on the wall, a graceful heraldic figure materializes from no discernable source:

angelghost copy

And on a floor, with no nearby surfaces to reflect or refract, an excitable presence scrabbles near a cabinet’s leg:

Meanwhile, this remarkable flying creature appeared on my ceiling today.

89B5D1C2-3544-493A-B496-B5F16B26830B_1_105_c

None of the ghosts have yet tried to make contact. I’ll let you know if/when they do.

(This post responds to Discover writing prompt Day 12: Light.)

A Zoom Side Effect Pertinent to Fruit

I’m spending a vast number of hours on Zoom nowadays. Meanwhile, I’ve rounded a bend and will soon clock in at 3 weeks alone. That has led to some, um, interesting thought patterns.

The other day, I was noticing how I was out of fresh blueberries, and running low on frozen blueberries.

This on its own would be a crisis. Each week I eat most of the available blueberries in the world. But that’s another story.

Anyhow. As I pondered my blueberry situation, I caught myself thinking of the berries, not as fresh and frozen blues, but as live and recorded blueberries.

Bizillions of Free Ebooks

For the next month, Smashwords is giving away ebooks from many many authors in a stay-at-home event called Authors Give Back.

If you’re like me and not into romance or covers with chiseled torsos, you might be put off by the Smashwords best sellers. But there are plenty of other types of books there. Worth a bit of digging.

All of my ebooks will be free there during this giveaway.

 

Free Ebooks (mine) on Amazon

Screen Shot 2019-11-29 at 3.33.25 PMI’ve finished the DDsE series! (Ella has completed her diary! For now…) To celebrate, for the next couple days, the digital version of the series will be free on Amazon. (The 3rd and final book goes freebie on Saturday.)

I started DDsE as a break from writing my FRAMES series. I’ve never needed such a break before but FRAMES takes a surprising lot of energy. I speculate it’s the combination of world-building plus characters who are not human.

Anyway, the break turned long when DDsE became a series, too. I didn’t dare to pause DDsE and go back to FRAMES, though, lest Nica take over Ella’s diary. Once Nica gets into my head, she doesn’t settle for being the narrator in FRAMES. She takes over. Other books. Conversations. Everything. For a while she wrote my work emails. (How did that go, you ask? Let’s just say it’s a good thing I was about to retire.)

NoLAnew4NoisetradeTo further celebrate my return to writing FRAMES, Nica of Los Angeles (FRAMES #1) is also free on Amazon as an ebook for the next couple days.

1000 Reading Hoarders?

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Discovered this cool milestone today at Smashwords, an ebook distributor in the midst of their gi-normous summer giveaway. My ebooks have 1,000 “purchases” via Smashwords.

Now, most of these purchases have been free in giveaways. And people tend to hoard ebooks, unopened, after such sales. But at least a few have read my books. They post reviews; during future sales, they acquire later volumes in series; they bookmark me as an author they want to find again.

Nowadays I don’t care much about getting customers for my books but I most definitely want readers. Through the month of July, you can download any/all of my books from my page at Smashwords, in any/all ebook formats.

10 lords a-leaping, 1,000 readers hoarding…

The Lyrics That Mattered Most

I keep meeting folks who are writing their memoirs. Guess it’s something about getting Up There, years-wise. Writing a memoir never interested me — until I thought to write my life story using only the song lyrics that most profoundly affected me. The result is Self, Sampled

This was lots of fun to do, and taught me stuff about myself in the process. I recommend the exercise! I’ll understand if you don’t make it far through this memoir, though. The impact of a lyric is such a personal matter.

A few take-aways:
+ damn am I white;
lyrics really really matter to me…
+ … and yet, some of my favorite musicians never wrote or sang lyrics that snagged me like these;
+ I bet I would have turned out different if I hadn’t listened to so much Leonard Cohen during my formative years.

Maybe I’ll make a Spotify playlist of my memoir.