A Mouthful of Moonshine

The Posters
The first of two batches of posters are currently in the able hands of my amazing offset printer Rich at Ryan Gwinner in Portland. I am hopeful the second batch will be inked and ready to go by December 4th.

I normally do batches of 10 posters at a time, my last batch was a whopping 13 posters, and by the time I was done, I thought my hand was going to fall off. This time around, I got greedy and thought I could make 24 posters, but last week I made the call and decided 20 is a respectable number and set the last four aside for later.

They will all be up on the website sometime in January, if not sooner. Last year I designed and printed up two other posters but have held back putting them up on the website. They will go up once my book is published, only because one poster is a celebration of my main subject, and I don’t want to reveal who it is just yet.

The moment I finish inking the 20th poster, I can’t wait to dig through my collection and start pulling stuff I no longer need for my book. I am at that stage in the book where I need to know exactly where everything is so I can shoot it and put it up on the website, where they will reside in the future section for my book. It feels like it is all finally coming together.

I also plan to freshen up the website, add a few new sections and get rid of a lot of other sections: links, kudos, copyright, Vampira, Flea Circus. I plan to make a section on my website for a doll house I made a few years ago, a 19th-early 20th century 3-story Funeral Home.

The top floor has three occupied “Slumber Rooms,” the main floor is the Parlor and Coffin Room with a lovely selection of Burial Garments and Slippers, and the basement is the mortuary where the embalming takes place. There are five dead bodies and they all look marvelous, as if they were all just “merely sleeping.”

And then I have this ever growing huge pile of books I want to finally read, and no doubt there will be a big stack of notes I will need to transcribe and some other loose ends I need to take care of.

I recently purchased a 19th century medical human skull cap with the most incredible patina. It sits on a tiny round milk glass stand and fits perfectly in my drawing area.


I reverently use it to hold my erasers for drawing and I admit, I do get a small thrill plucking an eraser from the sacred place where over a hundred years ago, a human brain once lived, thrived and died and was later removed during dissection. It is my new favorite object.

The Book
I started writing full time five or so years ago, and my not being at my writing desk has felt like missing a lover. I am pining for my book.

I miss my writing routine, I miss losing myself in research and writing, I miss Merve and can’t wait to have her on the iPad next to me, keeping me company as I happily jump back into 19th century America and France. I would like to get the book published late next year but realistically, it will probably be more like 2023, which is fine, too.

It took Barbara Tuchman 10 years to write A Distant Mirror and Shelby Foote 20 years to write his Civil War trilogy, and much of it he wrote while mostly still in his pajamas. I can respect that.

Too many books published today feel like disposable content, churned out to fit in whatever the current narrative flavor of the day happens to be. Everyone seems to be writing the same thing, and in the same voice (Twitter-speak) and all of it seems so disjointed, badly edited and the topics are all utterly depressing.

It feels like too many authors are distracted and not giving these books (articles, essays, short stories) their full undivided attention. I noticed that the majority of books I have been buying were written pre-Internet. The difference and quality of research and writing is quite striking.

Pre-Internet, there used to be so much more freedom of thought and radical ideas. Now everyone is supposed to think, talks and say the exact same thing and if you color outside those lines, you are labeled a heretic. Which is why everything is beige.

On January 1, 2022, my plan is to wake up, eat my same breakfast (tomatoes with tiny cheese balls, pickled cauliflower and cucumbers, watermelon/honey dew melon chunks, and avocado slices with a smattering of grated Parmesan cheese), make a glass of iced espresso and a cup of hot drip, and then set myself down at my writing desk. Crossing fingers I can reach this deadline.

This is the day I have been fantasizing about ever since I completed my second draft a few months ago. Even though I am happily working on posters, I still live in my book-head 24/7. My subject is all I can think about right now.

In an interview, Shelby Foote was asked how he felt after completing his Civil War trilogy. He said, “Gibbon talks about finishing The Decline and Fall, saying how he had mixed emotions—liberated and very happy to have brought it to a close and to have lived long enough to wind it up. Then he became very sad, as if he’d lost an old friend. I felt all those things. It was a strange feeling. But I knew the last line from the time I started the book.”

Before I even began my own book, I knew exactly what the very last line would be in the book. And eight years and two drafts later, that last line fit perfectly.

I am dreading the final end of my own book, I have become so immersed in my subject’s life, it is all I can think about, my subject and my book. It feels like I am about to lose my new old best friend.

Music: Tragedy by Grimes


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