I Am No Picasso, But. . .

I Am No Picasso, But. . .

“Cotopaxi,” Frederic Edwin Church

Last Friday I decided I needed a break.  I visited the Detroit Institute of Arts, a remarkable sanctuary of beauty and wonder in my neighborhood. My late husband Charles told me when he worked on the Detroit People Mover project or some other stressful assignment he would drive to the art museum on his lunch break and stroll through the galleries and Rivera Court with the Diego Rivera Murals. He also admired the Hudson River School artists especially the enormous painting “Cotopaxi, 1862”, by Frederic Edwin Church. The oil on canvas of the Andes Mountains and volcanoes of Ecuador, South America, surely reminded Charles of his past and influenced his painting style and subjects.

I wandered through the museum’s galleries to see “Picasso and Matisse: The DIA’s Prints and Drawings.” The literature on the exhibit explained: “Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse were ground breaking artists who constantly experimented with techniques and materials.” It was fascinating to see how they challenged themselves even in their later years when it is often more difficult to learn and make changes.

“Le Chapeau a Fleurs,” Pablo Picasso

In the midst of the exhibit was the quote from Picasso, “I am always doing that which I cannot do in order that I may learn how to do it.” The quote made me think about my reason for writing this blog post – to help tell the story of the publication of Charles’ memoir and that throughout this process I, too, “am always doing that which I cannot do in order that I may learn how to do it.” My determination to get the book published has taken me to so many new places. I have been literally “forced” to do new things in my later years when it is often more difficult to learn and make changes!

We did not plan to publish the book ourselves.  In fact, for many years while Charles was still writing the book, we researched Writer’s Market, Guide to Literary Agents and publications on how to write a book proposal and go through the traditional publishing process – that was the “respectable” thing to do. We wrote over one hundred letters and talked to people on the phone trying to get interest for publication of the memoir. We received many kind remarks and words of encouragement, mostly no responses and no contracts.

As the years went by self-publishing became more common, but until Charles died we still were contacting publishers and agents. I found it difficult to promote publication of a book for a deceased author, however. But, Charles story had to be told and my biological clock was ticking. As self-publishing opportunities continued to grow and became more “respectable,” I was convinced that it was the way to go. I had a lot to learn.

Learning is one of the great joys of life at any age. Our brains reward us with a “Eureka” feeling which for me is a gift beyond description. I’m no Picasso, but I am a lifelong learner and that’s what helps to keep pushing me through this project.

What keeps you going throughout your publishing or any other project and why?

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