A book update

Illustration from the chapter on Hackneys in Equine Tapestry

I apologize that the blog has been so silent for the last few weeks. I have been consumed with work on the book for the last few weeks, and have been trying to focus on that. My planned publication date of late summer obviously passed, in part because I underestimated the technical issues I might encounter with the actual printing. That has been a big part of the problem, but I have to admit a lot of the delays are my own fault.

Mission creep – the tendency for a task, esp a military operation, to become unintentionally wider in scope than its initial objectives

If there is something that has characterized this project from the start, it has been mission creep. Believe it or not, this was supposed to be just a quickie reference guide for painters and scupltors; a handbook where they could quickly look up and see if this or that color or pattern was found in this or that breed. That grew when I decided to include as many of the lesser-known breeds as I could. Then I fell victim to my own interest in the history of breeds and their colors. Why just tell what colors breeds have, when you could also tell about what they used to have? But then I couldn’t really tell those stories without telling about how the breeds themselves were formed. Soon I was grappling with just how many volumes I would need for this, and the rest just followed.

I also made this worse by not drawing the line on the inclusion of new material. Just when I would finalize the text, a contact for some obscure breed would surface, and I’d find myself adding back a breed that had been dropped because there was not enough information. Or a long-forgotten query would be answered, and I’d have to make room for more photos. Each addition seemed so unique, and so interesting, that it was worth the delay. Of course, I can hear those of you who know me well laughing now. It really took a peculiar blindness to my own bad habits not to see this coming.

So now I have a book with 350+ pages and a word count somewhere around 170,000 (not including the front matter or the indexes, resource lists and extensive appendixes). I haven’t counted, but I believe there are close to 200 photos and illustrations. I have all that, but I am also months behind schedule. Right now the book is still being edited by outside sources, but I have high hopes to send out a printing proof before the holidays. I am sure that the book will not be ready before then, simply because everyone slows down (myself included) as the demands of the holiday season rise. I do apologize to everyone who has waited patiently, both for the book and for my return to a normal production schedule in the studio. My hope is that despite the delays, the resulting book will be a useful reference.  I know I have learned so very much just in the writing of it!


3 Responses to A book update

  1. Rachel Stacy December 5, 2011 at 4:24 pm #

    This is the reason that many of us have been waiting with bated breath though. We knew you were going to do something amazing, because everytime we talk to you about this subject, the conversation is amazing and so educational.

    I for one love the little history geek in you that comes out. You make the colors of a breed and it’s history interweave in an amazing narrative. I am happy to wait, because I know this book is going to be wonderful and I am in awe at the work you have put into this.

  2. Sarah MB December 7, 2011 at 4:34 am #

    Lesli – please don’t feel the need to rush, or that we’re all just tapping our toes impatiently. Believe me when I tell you we’re willing to wait as long as it takes for you to create a volume you’re utterly satisfied with — you’ve worked so hard, you’ve earned that right of final stamp of approval that overrides our hunger 🙂

    Sarah MB

  3. The Equine Tapestry December 7, 2011 at 7:00 am #

    Thanks everyone – I just hope it lives up to expectations! Mine and everyone else’s. 😀