Monday, December 21, 2009

Since 2001 I have carried Paraskeva Clark in my thoughts and in my heart and mind. Almost everything I read was through the lens of thinking about her. The art exhibitions I saw were through the prism of thoughts about this artist.

Then in the last few months I was focused on the production process of "Perfect Red: The Life of Paraskeva Clark" - working with my editor; checking the copy edit; proof reading the whole book; checking the index; checking the end notes; checking the photos and reproductions of paintings; checking the final proofs of the entire book. Soon came the realization that the book had gone to the printer. Nor more changes. That’s it. Whatever I had written, that’s what would go out into the world. Too late to do any more work on this book, the love of my life for eight years.

When I saw a copy of "Perfect Red" for the first time, I was thrilled. It is beautiful. I rubbed my hands over it, I smelled it, I took off the jacket to look at the cover and the spine. I loved the red lettering on the black spine. I leafed through it, read the introduction (thought it was good), looked up names in the index, examined the photos, looked at the paintings, flipped through the book to read snatches. All those words I had tapped out on my computer were now a book. What a miracle! No, not a miracle; it was fun and it was work, a work of love.

Now what? The constant pile of notes to remind me to do this or that are gone. My desk is clear. The shelf of frequently used reference materials now holds books that I couldn’t fit on my shelves. I feel as though something big is missing, some pleasure I had all those years. I feel a sense of loss, but at the same time I feel a sense of pride and joy as I hold memories of people I met, people who have enriched my life; memories of days spent poring over documents about Paraskeva Clark’s life, her baptismal records, her hand-written lectures, her correspondence - and on and on - reading articles on Canadian art of her era, books on Russia, on the Spanish Civil War, and looking at her paintings.

What remains of those eight years is my reservoir of memories and, most important, the book. (People I meet, as well as friends, tell me they are reading my book and enjoying it. How rewarding!) Now suddenly Christmas has come. Next will be a New Year in which to discover what lies ahead.

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