Rodeo clown update

[That reference is from Andrew Peterson’s song “Rest Easy.“]

Weem Adrift: Both texts are with their respective proofreaders, and as soon as they’re in i’ll be binding. That means you can expect more exciting and revelatory updates to start within the week! i cannot wait to start sharing what i’ve been up to these last months, and i really, really cannot wait to get Weem Adrift’s fall release on the workbench. i can already feel it in my hands. It is so good.

Library fun: Story Camp starts next week! My co-teacher Val and i are excited to lead not only two kids’ camps this year, but a one-day workshop for adults, too. That means taking the basic ideas we’ve been playing with for the last half-decade and making them as practical and exciting as we can, so that grownups who can’t spend a full week with us and who have already been writing can leave energized and equipped to get back to their craft. Like every year, Val and i are asking ourselves, “Who gave us permission to do such a thing?!” “G-d did,” is Val’s response, which is perfect and exactly why i’m glad to be teaching with her.

Yes, this means i’m going to be printing and binding that fall release smack in the middle of Story Camp, but you know what? It’s going to be amazing. And i’m way behind schedule, so too bad. XD

Reading: My Julie and i had a powerful book club together on The Hiding Place this spring, and right now we’re just wrapping up Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. That’s our last book of 8th grade. i am so grateful to be doing this stuff with her. On my own, i’ve recently read Jo Walton’s Among Others and James Dickey’s Deliverance—completely different experiences, in case you’re wondering—and thanks to a friend, have started Anne Lamott’s Bird By Bird with Jonathan Rogers’ online writing group.

Speaking of 8th grade, Julie and i are about wrapped up over here, and then i’ll be planning her freshman year of language arts. i love this girl. We’re a good team.

Back at it, kids.

Coming in 2019

In a previous update or two, and on Instagram, i’ve been hinting at a couple projects in the works. One is a newly-typeset edition of George MacDonald’s The Princess and the Goblin, a unique item created for a North Wind Manor fundraiser. The other is not. 😉

The other is Weem Adrift’s upcoming fall release, which i’ll be announcing shortly and which is in the final stages of typesetting and proof-binding. It’s been in the works since November, and in my upper head for far longer than that. It’s teaching me how to edit, how to work with proofreaders and illustrators, how to hold a project close to my brain for a year, and to set and miss deadlines, and to see the work through.

Next week i’ll be finalizing case design and contacting potential advance readers. This summer will see some revamps around the website and a whole lot of bookbinding. The official reveal is coming soon. But for now, here are a few behind-the-scenes glimpses at the process so far. 🙂 (More can be found on Instagram at #weemadriftpublishing.)

Typesetting and trust

A week and a half ago, on Easter Sunday, i completed my first full attempt at typesetting. The manuscript is now in the hands of proofreaders.

This project was meant to be a three-chapter practice exercise, but a friend of the Rabbit Room suggested an auction. It occurred to me that some people may be interested in a newly-typeset, hand-bound edition of The Princess and the Goblin, and if i was going to auction it, i may as well do the whole thing. This seems reasonable, and entirely in keeping with what one might expect from someone who calls Pete Peterson her Patronus, but of course it has cost more in both time and brain cells than i ever anticipated.

But done it is, and now i wait. Forsooth, it was something new to be asked “how do you want me to track comments?” and “what’s the timeline?” and to be met immediately with one typo and an exclamation: “i LOVE THE FONT!” What a joy and relief such comments were, and how glad i am to anticipate more of them! Because here is a truth: Creativity is not meant to be carried out alone. We need the eyes and minds and hearts of others. i have spent weeks staring at this document, making near-imperceptible adjustments, and can no longer see what i would as a proofreader for another publisher’s work. And here, here is another truth: We do better work when we submit to each other.

Now while those proofers are busy finding all the perceptible weirdnesses introduced by my imperceptible adjustments, i move on to other publishing tasks: Reviewing another manuscript. Arranging with artists for work they will contribute. Calculating how much paper i will need. Managing quarterly finances. Preparing book cloth. And while the work of bookbinding can be solitary, very little of the work of publishing is done in isolation. Much of it requires trust. It requires honesty, first with myself. In a dozen ways or more, i am still learning these things. i do not know how everything will come together.

In my mentoring this semester, trust has been the major theme. One aspect of this theme is learning to trust myself. And yet the paradox in this is that trusting myself is not the same as relying on myself. Leaning into my own experience is not counter to, but in fact requires, leaning into my own inexperience. Our strengths are often our weaknesses, and i must continue to ask myself whether i am acting in love or in fear. And yet my weaknesses, if i allow them, may be my strengths.

The night i finished that dratted typesetting project, i nearly gave up. i hit two snags in a row and did not know what to do, so i walked away. And then came a quiet voice in my spirit.

“Do you want to be perfect, or do you want to be beautiful?”

i do want to be perfect. i am happy to rail against German text critics who can’t see the poetry for the pattern, but for all that i am one of them. Can this also be a gift i bring to my work, to the author i serve, to our readers? I went back downstairs and let that voice lead me to a new way of seeing the snag that had snagged me. Within an hour the manuscript was done.

“Do you want to be perfect, or do you want to be beautiful?” i’ve got two manuscripts in play now, one with proofreaders and another awaiting a response to my editing. i’m new at all of this. And if i want to be perfect, i will be afraid—afraid to know how many typos i’ve left in, afraid to expose my inexperience, afraid to learn new skills or a new way of being. But if i want to be beautiful, i must instead embrace that inexperience and hold it up to the light. The light is also beautiful. And it is better, better by far to walk in love than in fear.

Publishing, like everything else, is just love-lessons.

Weem Adrift’s first year of taxes

In my last post i mentioned that in January i filed small business paperwork. Last week we did our best to sort out how to include my very small business expenses and even smaller income in our personal income taxes. This reminded me that while most of my online orders are across state lines, i should look into what’s required of me as far as sales tax goes.

It appears that Colorado state tax regulations have changed in the last few months, so what i didn’t know in the first place is already out of date, and the new rules will take some sorting out.  i’ve decided to hold off on selling through the site here while i figure out what i need to do, and in the meanwhile you can still order through The Rabbit Room, who hold most of my inventory anyway. i will miss sending out nuzzardous tracking emails, but the tracking texts you will receive from the RR were written by the same brilliant if slightly-gnawed brain that produced the Budge-Nuzzard. So everybody wins. 🙂

To purchase The Budge-Nuzzard or In the Year of Jubilation, click through to the Rabbit Room Store.

Halfway

Tomorrow morning i go back to classes after a much-needed (and still too full) spring break. That means i am halfway through the semester. i am also perhaps halfway through a typesetting project which i hoped would be finished by now (every solution brings with it a new challenge; the final result will be magnificent, but i did not know books could require so much math). My girl and i are halfway through our first full school year together. i split my time between worrying about this year and worrying about high school. “Let Your steadfast love, O L-rd, be upon us, even as we hope in You.”

A little bit of catch-up before the downward slope of this school year begins:

That North Wind Manor fundraiser i announced in my last post, way back in December, was a far greater success than i imagined. i thought i would be happy to make as many as twenty little clothbound journals, but in the end it was more than twice that. Thirty-six were for donors; the remainder went to the Rabbit Room board as gifts for their annual retreat. My author texted me later to say he’d picked the Batman one. i knew he would. 🙂 (It occurs to me that when i say “my author,” i should clarify that i mean the one i work for, not the one i publish, and the fact that this needs clarification is still a little unreal.)

In my own schooling right now, i am studying Greek, which is finally coming together, and supposedly working on my own (English) fiction-writing. One of those two is getting more attention than the other, but if i’m to pass this semester’s mentoring i need to get writing. i committed to eight whole hours—that’s not even a lot, and that such a small goal is proving difficult is disheartening—and to revising my work with the help of others. The goal is trust. i am dragging my feet.

In Julie’s schooling, we’ve been reading some great novels and working on all the language arts stuff—Greek and Latin roots, English grammar, and basic composition. Our current book is Treasure Island. Neither of us have read it before, and i’m enjoying it.

Meanwhile, there’s so much that’s been happening with Weem Adrift that it’s daunting to begin talking about it. This January i filed for sole proprietorship and trademark, and that typesetting project is a steep learning curve on the way to my next release. i’m not yet ready to announce the title, but i’m both grateful and overwhelmed by all the opportunities this process gives me to learn—not only small business paperwork and typesetting, but so many aspects of production i skipped with the last two books. This is also an aspect of my trust plan this semester—trusting that i’ve got this, that i have the capacity to grow into this excellent work and to do excellence, that G-d is pleased with me and keeping a hold on me as i do things i’ve never done before, that i cannot fail with so many encouragers alongside me. At the end of this long process a new book will be alive in the world. Every time i do this it gets deeper and realer. Every time i’m more grateful for the grace i’ve been given.

i’m not quite ready for this week to end. Next week will, again, be too full. But i’m getting there.

Let Your steadfast love, O L-rd, be upon us, even as we hope in You.

Building something beautiful

i am a Weem Adrift. And, by some miracle of grace, i am no longer adrift. The Rabbit Room has been a home to me for the last five years—a solid, real home where i belong, a home that isn’t going anywhere, a community that, although it began online and much of our interaction throughout the year is online, is teaching me how to live an embodied life in the world. i’m not homeless anymore.

The Rabbit Room began as an experiment in community and over the last decade has grown to include a publishing house, a host of local events, an online store, and an annual four-day feast. Their staff labor all week, all year, in a 130-year-old farmhouse with falling-down ceilings, faulty plumbing, and no insulation, and in those hard circumstances they birth beauty into the world. i, a Weem Adrift, am a small sign of that beauty, and Weem Adrift Publishing is as well.

i have big hopes for 2019, and so does the Rabbit Room. One of my goals is to learn and grow as a publisher. i want to learn new bookbinding methods, and typesetting, and book promotion. One of the Rabbit Room’s goals is to turn that old falling-down farmhouse into a physical space that can support the good work they’re doing and the community they’re creating. i want to help them make that hope, that home, a reality.

Last week i learned two new bookbinding techniques—sewn boards binding, and cloth covers—and yesterday i had a marvelous idea. What if you loved the Rabbit Room, too, and what if i got to make a billion of these tiny cloth-covered journals as thank-you gifts?

So here’s my plan: Everyone who donates* at least $20 to the Rabbit Room’s North Wind Manor fund before the end of the year gets a journal. There are a lot of fabrics out there, and a lot of us. Let’s build something beautiful.


Click here for more about the Rabbit Room, and here to learn more about their building project.

*To claim your handmade journal, send your donation receipt to orders at weemadrift dot com or tag me on social media.

Weem Adrift at the Rabbit Room

This last weekend was the Rabbit Room’s annual four-day feast—Hutchmoot. i brought a hundred books with for the book tables, and those that remained at the end are now in the Rabbit Room store. You can always order direct from the publisher, of course (click Weem Adrift in the menu above), but i would love for you to support the organization—ministry—family i love so much. Each purchase through their store supports their general fund, from which they birth all kinds of goodness into the world—including concerts, a podcast and blog, Hutchmoot, and over thirty books of their own. Click over to their storefront to find paperback and hardcover Jubilations, as well as paperback Budge-Nuzzards.

North Wind Manor Campaign:  As a glad inhabitant of the Rabbit Room, i am thrilled to join with them in putting down roots. The 130-year-old farmhouse that has been their base of operations for the last three years is in desperate need of renovation, and with that renovation is coming, finally, the embodied place for events and community they’ve been dreaming of since the Rabbit Room’s inception. To support this effort, prices at WeemAdrift.com are seeing a minor increase, and a corresponding portion of every purchase will go directly toward North Wind Manor’s renovations. For more on this campaign, click here or watch the video below.

Thank you, Rabbit Room, for being my place in the world.

What i’ve been doing lately

Things i have not been doing:

  1. Running this blog.
  2. Keeping track of what day it is.

Things i have been doing:

  1. Running Story Camp, a film series, a book sale, and a network book tour at the church library.
  2. Planning an eighth grade language arts course for my best girl.
  3. Beginning Greek while WONASing Hebrew and teaching language arts.
  4. Reading a dozen books at one time (which is too many, i have learned).
  5. Trying not to suddenly fail things i had forgotten i was doing.
  6. Binding a hundred books to bring to Hutchmoot next week.

It has not quite sunk in yet that Hutchmoot binding is done. The last books were finished on Sunday and embellished with their own tiny Js on Monday. The last two days have been spent building cardboard boxes from scratch so that the books fit perfectly and don’t shift around while we take them to Gnashville. That process took about four times longer than i expected. i made very careful calculations, but no plan survives contact with the players. A great volume of large cardboard pieces have collected on the floor. The cat enjoys sitting on them. She also enjoys appearing unexpectedly on the counter and licking plates, but that is not relevant except that it happened this afternoon while i was making boxes.

Sometime or other i will tell you more about language arts. i’m enjoying it and am really proud of me and Julie both. 🙂

In other news, my Greek midterm  is next week.

Practice resurrection.

 

Stuff i liked in 2017

Each year the Rabbit Room publishes a list of the contributors’ top 3 books, films, and music, and invites readers to share their favorites in the comments. i was planning to spend time in my review posts sifting through everything i read so as to be prepared for listing my top three. Well, i am not done sifting yet, but the “Stuff We Liked” post went up on Thursday, so i did my best to narrow things down. This resulted in a comment long enough to be a blog post all on its own, so i am posting it here also. i do intend to finish that series of review posts, though.


So i read 76 books last year and only hated two of them and the short list for the ones i loved best is basically seven plus one whole writer. Forewarning: i am going to break the rules. The editor can give me demerits if he wants (but seriously? Demerits for games? That’s crazy).

Books

JAMES DICKEY. GAH. i LOVE HIM. i read four of his poetry collections between June and December (Buckdancer’s Choice; Selected Poems; The Strength of Fields; Death, and the Day’s Light; and Buckdancer’s Choice again), and if anyone wants a Dickey education i am so ready to get you started. This guy is fascinating. i can’t stop reading him. His poetry runs the gamut from mythological to war memoir to seriously troubling to stories that i don’t know if, and i don’t know if anyone knows if, they’re true. Some of his “i” narrators are him, some are fictional, plus he was apparently a pathological liar in real life. A couple of weeks ago i was flipping through a book that had multiple drafts of one of my favorites of his poems and thought, i could read this guy for the rest of my life. So. One of my reading goals for this year is to read and reread enough of him that next year i can justify making a foray into reading commentary—his own or scholarly. And his son wrote what looks like a great memoir about his dad and their relationship, and i want to read that too, but before i get too far into thoughts about Dickey (even his own thoughts) i want to read his poetry on its own terms for a lot longer. i can only think of one other writer who’s ever just exploded my brain and taken over like this, and he’s the one who introduced me to Dickey.

Ha. Okay. i will try to move on from there. But get me started again, i dare you.

Du Iz Tak? Ken Priebe has be keeping me supplied with picture books for the last several months, and this one is without question my favorite. i didn’t know i was a language nerd until i started studying Hebrew in seminary a few years ago (although i probably should have known this all along). It turns out i love languages, and what really lights me up is the little epiphanies scattered throughout the learning process—idioms and etymology and the connections between everything. This book was maybe written just for me. It’s told in an entirely made-up language—a “nonsense” language, it first appears. But as i read it i started to pick up on vocabulary and even grammar in this bright-colored picture book and i. just. freaking. exploded. Remembering this not only makes me want to reread the book, but gets me revved up to get back to Hebrew.

This is the part where i start cheating, because this should be my third and last book, but instead it is my third and NOT last book.

TheForgottenBeastsofEldWatershipDownHenryandtheChalkDragonWinter’sTaleLesMisérablesEveryMomentHoly

Those are all in chronological order by date of completion.

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld and Watership Down were both recommended by Jeffrey Overstreet and i have yet to read a book he’s recommended and not be ruined by it. i cried on every single page of The Forgotten Beasts of Eld.

Henry and the Chalk Dragon. Jennifer Trafton is the avatar of the goddess Courage. i love her. This book, like everything she writes, makes me brave. There were times last spring when i would write “TIE YOUR SHOELACES” on my hand to get me though Akkadian tests. Also, Henry and i have started coloring in my books. We have colored in a lot of the illustrations in his book, and we have also started to illuminate the copy of Four Quartets that lives in my purse. For days after reading Henry all i could think of was color. From Henry’s imagination and woes to the adult characters’ arcs to the conflict with Oscar to the DRAGON! to Jade the Bard to the prose itself, there is literally nothing about this book that isn’t perfect.

Winter’s Tale and Les Mis were both assignments from my Patronus and i loved them so much. i loved the fact of them and the assignment of them and the reading of them. Winter’s Tale is a wildly, magically, quietly hilarious dream of a thing and i have never read anything like it. Plus, it has Barnabas Bead references in it and Pete didn’t even do all of them on purpose. Les Mis—i am still not over Gavroche and his mômes. That whole book just gutted me in the best way.

Finally: EVERY MOMENT HOLY. i can’t believe i know people who make art like this.

Film

i didn’t track movies and music the way i did books, so that gives you a reprieve from further enthusiastic exhaustions. But i love that Pete mentioned mother! because oh my gosh, that movie completely exhilarated me.

100% the best thing this year: The Wingfeather Saga: A Crow for the Carriage. This thing exists. Oh my word. It exists, and it is beautiful. i might cry just thinking of it. i’m so, so unbearably proud of that team.

i’m not going to bother with ranking the rest of these, but: La La Land. i saw that one four times in the theater. i had to fight for it—my first viewing and my second were completely different experiences and i’m so glad i went back.

Others: Jeffrey Overstreet came out this summer for a film seminar at our church library, and i followed that up with a film discussion series, and it was a blast. So hard to pick favorites out of that bunch, but i completely loved The Fits. Also, Paterson. Also, Babette’s Feast. (We also watched Timbuktu and La La Land, plus The Secret of Kells, which i’d already seen.)

i’m with Pete on War for the Planet of the Apes also, but the film series selections were so good that i think that one has to be an honorable mention.

Music

Thankfully for you i listened to very little new music (as is typical for me), so:

Scott Mulvahill is my favorite new thing to happen to music, period. i have spun the five songs on his EP for hours straight.

Psallos’ album Hebrews is so crazy awesome. i’ve never heard anything like it. The whole book of Hebrews, straight through, as a community theater production with a full Broadway orchestra. What the heck.

In other news, i am still spinning The Burning Edge of Andrew Peterson.

What i read in 2017: The reviews, part 1

In my last post i made an attempt to explain how i read 76 books last year (75, really, if you don’t count repeats), and i doubt i knew what i was talking about to any great extend. i say this partly because another factor arose in my upper head a day or two after writing it, and it is this: Jennifer Trafton included READ, READ, READ in her list of 2017 goals, and it is always best to do whatever Jennifer Trafton is doing if at all possible. She is a magical fairy creature. Also, and perhaps most importantly, i made the decision at the beginning of fall semester to not check Facebook before lunch, and to not check at all on school days (once a week), but to instead open a book immediately upon waking. This lasted only about halfway through the semester (i did manage to keep up the Facebook part of it), because by a certain point i was more likely to fall back asleep in my book if i tried reading before getting out of bed. But it did help for awhile.

tl;dr: Obey Jennifer Trafton. Read every morning in place of Facebook.

Anyway, to the reviews. i said i would give a 1-2 sentence gloaning for each of the books i read last year, so we commence. But rather than proceed in a linear fashion, i shall divide the list into categories and go from there.

Categories:

  • Patronus assignments
  • Patronus recommendations
  • Poetry, generally
  • James Dickey (also poetry)
  • Picture book assignments from Ken
  • Textbooks
  • Everything else

i’m going to start with Textbooks.

Proper Confidence: Faith, Doubt, and Certainty in Christian DiscipleshipProper Confidence: Faith, Doubt, and Certainty in Christian Discipleship, by Lesslie Newbigin. i read this one for Hermeneutics, right after reading Henry and the Chalk Dragon, and it was all i could do to not color in it.

 

A Little Book for New Theologians: Why and How to Study TheologyA Little Book for New Theologians: Why and How to Study Theology, by Kelly M. Kapic. This is a truly little book—about 7″ tall and 1/2″ thick—and i totally, completely recommend it. It was another Hermeneutics text, but it was equal parts textbook and devotional. And if you are not quite up to thinking of yourself as a theologian, read it anyway. Click the cover image for a fuller review on Goodreads.

 

A Grammar of AkkadianA Grammer of Akkadian, by John Huehnergard. This was our text for two semesters of Akkadian, the language of the Assyro-Babylonians. i can’t compare it to other Akkadian textbooks, but i do appreciate that Huehnergard (i still can’t spell his name without checking) included a variety of exercises, including writing/composition. The Gilgamesh and Hymn to Ishtar tablets in the back were a great challenge—the whole reason i took Akkadian was to read (and write) ancient fiction. i did manage a few haikus and some very disturbing adaptation of the Ishtar Hymn. But i will never love Akkadian. Hebrew forever. i do wish the key (which was SUPER helpful) had included actual parsing or anything at all on those supplementary tablets.

 

Four Portraits, One Jesus: A Survey of Jesus and the GospelsFour Portraits, One Jesus: A Survey of Jesus and the Gospels, by Mark L. Strauss. i would respect this book more as a seminary textbook if it had not been printed in full color on glossy pages. i wouldn’t have thought highly of that approach even as an (admittedly arrogant) undergrad. But it was well-organized. The introduction, summary, and study question sections for each chapter were very thorough. i wish it’d had an index of maps, though. They were always impossible to find. This was the main text for the Gospels portion of Gospels & Acts (NT survey, part 1).

 

Synopsis of the Four GospelsSynopsis of the Four Gospels, by Kurt Aland. This was the other Gospels textbook. All four Gospels, in columns, with parallel passages (and even near-parallels) lined up. It boggles my mind that anyone could put together something like this.

 

Called to Be Church: The Book of Acts for a New DayCalled to Be Church: The Book of Acts for a New Day, by Anthony B. Robinson and Robert W. Wall. This was our main text for the Acts portion of Gospels & Acts, and i appreciated it. It was co-written by a pastor and theologian so as to exegete and apply the text for pastors, and rather than cover the entire book they focused on key chapters, watershed moments in Acts. The approach served very well. i ended up putting it in the church library after the semester was over.

 

With: Reimagining the Way You Relate to GodWith: Reimagining the Way You Relate to God, by Skye Jethani. This book was assigned reading for the introduction to our school’s mentoring program, and it was also recommended by our pastor. The main premise is fine—that instead of the various postures we often take toward G-d (life over, under, from, and for G-d), we would do better to approach Him from a posture of Life With G-d. But it was so repetitive. i didn’t need a fresh definition of all four deficient postures in every chapter. This also contributed to the book coming across as more negative than necessary, despite half the book being devoted to the with posture. But as i said, the premise is good, and if the with posture did not already feel most natural to me it might have been a more formative read.

Best book in this bunch: A Little Book for New Theologians. Read it.

Which category should i do next? Maybe picture books?