Wednesday, February 22, 2006

I'm Baaaaack!

Coffee in the Starbucks Skyline Alaska mug, Galileo by the Indigo Girls on the iPod. Yep, I'm home and all is right with my world. The schedule today is jam-packed full, but tomorrow Dave and I leave for a six-day weekend in California with friends and Gramma stays here to take care of Jessie and the pets. With that to look forward to, I can get through anything.

Yesterday, as expected, was the absolute day from hell. Due to mixing up the end date for the BMAC and double-booking my time, I drove eight hours and then worked in the studio for eight hours fusing dinnerware which must ship tomorrow (I will slump it today). My spouse was incredibly supportive throughout (as was my mother who drove 2-3 of the eight hours so I could rest a bit).

That kind of a day is already tough, but the day before had already exhausted the reserves: We did the show all day, then broke everything down and carted it a block and a half in multiple dolly-loads and loaded up the car and then drove to Richmond arriving at 11:30 pm. Waiting to bring the car into the dock for load-out would have added at least an hour so we put in the physical effort instead.

So, drum roll please, how did I do? I had my first five-figure show! I added 13 new galleries--including the shop of the Jewish Museum in New York--from coast to coast. I can't wait to get a gallery map up on my website. I am designing seder sets for the Jewish Museum shop and have to get them done and shipped asap.

I also met a metal artist from LA who might be teaching me to weld while we are out there this weekend (if I can squeeze it in with all the drinking). He is already planning collaborative work for next year's NICHE awards. Psyche. Now I better get going. Miles to go before I sleep I(including getting a hotel room for LA--nothing like leaving things till the last minute.)

Saturday, February 18, 2006


In terms of the classic blunder, this has got to be one of the most classic. So at the BMAC you can sell your "samples" at the end of the show. This is a great time for artists to get other artists' work at wholesale prices. The "sales" take place at the end of the last day. So this morning someone comes up to me and asks me if I am going to sell samples on Monday... I'm thinking, "No, moron, I will be well on my way to Atlanta by Monday." But I say, "Sure!" By 10:00 I had three people ask me if I would be selling my samples on "Monday" and I got nervous. So I asked the woman in the booth across the way and she confirmed that, yes, the show goes through Monday at 3:00...

I am an idiot. I cannot believe what an idiot I am! Of course I only have a hotel room through tomorrow. Of course I have a full day's work scheduled for Tuesday and for Wednesday in the studio which has to ship Thursday morning--before we fly to California Thursday morning. And now I need to drive Tuesday... So I got on Priceline to try to extend my stay at the Hyatt for another night at a good rate and was unable. So I scrambled and dropped my willing-to-pay amount by one star and $10 and BINGO! I got the Marriott--which is attached to the convention center and means I do not have to pay double parking. And I might even be able to use it to my advantage for load up. We'll see. I have to remember this star thing for the July show.

Other than that, I picked up several new galleries today from California to New York to Florida. I am still waiting on representation in Alaska and Hawaii. Know anybody who needs fused glass there?

PS--Like the whorehouse red of the display?

Friday, February 17, 2006

Live (barely) from Philly...

I watch Law and Order CI and sip a perky white graves and listen to my mother snoring genteelly in the other bed... No wait, that was two nights ago. Tonight I slug down a sauvignon blanc straight from the bottle and listen to the printer spit out catalog pages on glossy brochure paper. I am going to set one more job to print and then it will be my turn to shower and crash. Here are some highlights of the show so far (from notes I have put in over the past couple of days):

Wednesday, February 15, 3:20 pm.
We had made it through the first day. And it went surprisingly well! Against all odds, expectations and scheduled move-in time, the carpet is down in the booth, the braces are all installed across the top of the booth to hang the track lights from and we have unloaded the van. Today they are supposed to install the foam core walls first thing and then we will finish setting up the booth and I will make the catalog and print out a bunch in the room tonight. Nothing like saving things till the last minute! On the plus side, I did get a site meter installed on my home page this morning so I can track the traffic I get from the show. I plan to hand out oodles of postcards and the first place the people picking them up will go (I hope) is the website. It would be nice if I had it were done, but you can't have everything.

Thursday, February 16, 8:30 am.
I sit with baited breath (really, I haven't brushed yet. At least it's not baited coffee breath) waiting for the contract negotiator from the Publisher to call me. I broke down and wrote her last night as it has been over a week since I wrote and I have heard nothing back concerning my contract issues. The phone rings!...

...and we are on. We have come to if not total agreement, at least understanding on all points under discussion in the contract. They could still screw me--the contract is heavily skewed in their favor--but at least now I have a comfort level that they won't. The only fly in the ointment right now is that they want final copy by August 15. My husband assures me that I "churn it out over a long weekend". Is he high?!? Where did he get drugs like that? I think I am not going to be able to be comfortable with that one and it is going to have to go. I can do 8/15 as a stretch goal, but not as an expectation. Now off to finish setting up for the show!

Friday, February 16, 3:30pm.
IT'S DONE!!! I am finally all set-up and ready. Notice the time above. The show started at 10:00 am. I tempted the gods by writing about things going well the day before yesterday and I was severely punished. Exhibitor Services didn't get the walls in my booth up until 3:30 yesterday afternoon *23-1/2hours after they told me they would be done*... that isn't a typo or an extra digitr in the number. They were just shy of a full day late. It was a nightmare, I had wine with lunch to get over it.

There was not much I could do until the walls got up so Mom and I had to stay and work until 10:30 pm. We got all the glass up, and then we came back to the room and I worked on my catalog till 1:00 am. Then back up at 7:00 am today to print some more pages out (they had to be turned over and sent back through the printer so I couldn't just load it all last night). Some of the buyer's today were a bit cranky that I didn't have my work priced for the first four hours. In fact I ended up redoing my price list entirely and changing some of the prices after I handed out some catalog packets (with price lists in them)... Oh well, if anyone I gave a now obsolete price list to comes back and orders from me tomorrow, I'll give him the lowest price from either price list (some prices went up, some went down--I just needed to simplify!).

And I already have two orders! They are not big, but they are new galleries and one of them is in a new state for me--New Jersey! I need to get my gallery map up on my website. Priority, priority, priority (after BMAC orders, commissions and the book...).

And Kathleen Hogan from Chicago's One of a Kind Show and Sale stopped by my booth to drop off a few applications postcards that they are sending out for the show. My work is on the front of the postcard!!

Friday, February 17, 10:43 pm.
So the weary road warrior goes to bed. It was a long day, but a good one and there will be real sleep tonight. The printer sings its lullaby with my mother's delicate snores providing high notes in harmony.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Going to the Show

Tonight's the night. Tomorrow, I head for the majors and I have my shower shoes ready. Make that my snow boots...

I sit in the relative quiet of the evening preparing mentally for the seven days ahead. I wanted to post one last time in peace before I get swept away. For once, everything on the list was accomplished well enough and in time enough or successfully triaged. No, I did not make it to Home Depot for lights or the office supply store for catalog materials today, but I did get new tires on the van. There is a Home Depot and an office supply store (Staples, I think) just down the street from the hotel in Phildelphia. I will buy a snow brush/ice scraper at a gas station further north where they are common.

I did get the order for the Art Institute of Chicago boxed up and scheduled for pick-up tomorrow with UPS. I did not get the dinnerware commission fused, which will make Tuesday and Wednesday after my return from Philly before leaving for LA exciting (the dinnerware must be in Wisconsin by 3/4 and I will be in California drinking heavily from 2/23 -2/28). I made a cool display stand out of PVC and spray painted it black this afternoon. It is a bit wobbly, but I will cable-tie it to a table and it will be fine.

So I sit here after a few glasses of sangria and I organize my lists. I have a list of glass pieces to show, a list of tools to take, a list of display materials... a list of everything and anything I might need for seven days away from home At The Show. Andrea, my savior, has offered to help me with my website after The Show and I am going to take her up on it. There are just some things woman was not meant to do alone. She and her husband will also be in LA from Chicago for the long weekend of debauchery (2/23-2/28) and I am so looking forward to seeing her.

So back to the show. It is tightly timed, but I think it will all work out. I will take my laptop and printer and finish the catalogs in the hotel and print them all out there. I bought yards and yards of red organza today to drape my booth with. I have white foamcore walls and they have a tacky potential that I hope to mitigate with the red organza. My carpet is also red and my display pieces are black and white. I have a 10 X 15 booth all to myself this time, and I am a bit afraid. But Nancy and Sara will be there, and my Mom is coming with me as my faithful assistant--Igor, Tonto, George AND Bess (get that reference, I dare you), Robin, Toto, Laurel, and Jerry all rolled into one, that's my Mom.

And when I get back I will worry about book contracts and kiln lid replacements and how to get all the orders from the BMAC out while writing a book and building a pond and preparing for a busy art fair season. Tonight, I have my tunnel vision on and all I see is the BMAC...and lots of snow.


D is for Doom. No mug and music report this morning--no time for either. The new website is up. At least the front page is. 14 hours yesterday and all I have to show for it is a front page which looks great in Firefox, not so great in IE and is untested in Netscape (though I would love feedback from anyone out there who has Netscape and is willing to give it a gander). Hard though I tried, I could not get the pop-up menus to work. Many tears of frustration and despair were expended yesterday... and there are undoubtedly more to come. I keep thinking I will just hire someone to do it, but every time I go down that route the person I interview for the job scares me away. He (no, I have not interviewed any women willing to take on the project) either is too expensive or disparages my design and wants to do it in his own style. Whose website is it anyway?

Now off to Ikebana, a gallery pick-up, get new front tires on the van and a snow scraper at Sam's Club, buy the lights from Home Depot and dog food from Petsmart, get frufty flimsy drapery at the fabric store for my display and black fabric for a tablecloth. Then home to pack and ship the pieces to the Art Institute in Chicago, build and paint the hanging panel stand, put in the first fuse load of a dinnerware commission, pay bills and finish my catalog... Sound like a full day?

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Saturday in the Studio and in Denial

I am back in the groove. The Starbucks Barista Barcelona mug waits patiently beside the coffeemaker for it to stop gurgling. The music is the morning hum of the furnace on this dark, wet, winter day (my mother is still sleeping upstairs and I am sure does not wish to be woken with "Marry Me" by the Drive by Truckers). Dave is off to supervise parent Workday at Jessie's pre-school in my stead. I am the chair of the Buildings & Grounds committee, but I have the Buyer's Market of American Craft next week. Into the breach, Dave. Then he is off to NTB to get new front tires for the van for me. True Love.

The coffee steams by my side now, and we officially enter the final leg of the race. The book contract is firmly Pushed To The Back Of My Mind. There is no room for it this coming week.

Today I do the last fusing for the show, tomorrow is a client fusing, Monday is the show slumping, and Tuesday I will slump the client pieces. Or I will wait till I get back and slump them then ship them. I have never had a relay go on a kiln, but there have been some really horrific stories on recently that have me nervous. I can just see setting the kiln for a regular slump cycle and heading off to the BMAC only to find a burned out kiln with puddles on the bottom on my return from it having gone to full power and having stayed there all week. And then having to sell my child to pay the electric bill. No thanks, I have enough unlikely things to worry about without adding one more.

Also today are postcards up and out, pick up a replacement glass shelf for a display, pick up all relevant work from two local galleries (the best reason to do some consignment work is because you have an emergency back-up supply of pieces for times like now), build and paint the hanging panel stand from pvc pipe, make the catalogs and pay the bills.

Tomorrow is the website and I absolutely, positively MUST get it done! I am in a visual business. The majority of people who are in this business--as artisans, buyers, customers, what-have-you--are visual people. If you don't have many visual reinforcements for your work--business card with a picture, color catalog, website with photos, brochures, etc.--to remind the buyers and customers what you do and how much they like it, they will buy from someone else.

I believe a website to be a business essential, and a complete website is critical. It is not enough to have a few pics and a bio up. I am at the point where I need to have up a list of the galleries which carry my work. It serves a dual purpose: to show prospective galleries the long list of other galleries which consider my work worth carrying and to show if there are other galleries in their areas which already show my work, avoiding overlap. I also need to keep a list of retail shows up so clients know where they can find me in the upcoming year.

This is where DENIAL comes in.The chance that I can get a website almost completely done in a day or two when I haven't been able to get it done in Months is seriously fill-in-your-own-preferred-word-for-completely-insane. But I am flawed. I am not wrong about the need, just about the probablility/possibility. Check back Monday.

So off to get through today--the actual making of work--so I can get to the more important task of displaying the work... Is this a skewed world or what?

Friday, February 10, 2006

Another Day No Response

Well this blog is purportedly about the trials and tribulations of writing a book. It is another day of trials. Nothing in the email box from the Publisher. However through another artist friend I found another artist who wrote a book for them. Hers came out last year and she is still waiting to see if she gets a royalty check. They sold out of the first printing and she was told the royalties for the first printing just cover the advance... Maybe she will see royalties in April. I hope so.

The postcards are still not back from the printer. I stopped by this morning to see if they were ready and saw one from the run: it was on the wrong cardstock (too light weight and matte) and had the wrong version of the back text on it. *sigh* If they do not go out today there is not much point in them going out at all. I ordered 300 printed both sides for the BMAC--200 to mail and 100 for in the booth, and another 200 with blank backs--just the studio name, my name, return address and the website and email addresses--to have to hand out in case I run out of the printed ones (not too likely). I ordered 2000 in all: the last 1500 initially have blank backs and I will have the backs printed on an as needed basis to use for my summer shows. All 2000 have already been run on the wrong cardstock. They are going to redo the 500 I need for the BMAC on the higher quality paper and they will have them for me tomorrow morning. I went ahead and bought stamps and ran off the labels. Either the ones I mail out will get there just before or just after the show and either way the gallery owner will have two views of my work--one in print, one at the show.

I put a load in the kiln last night by 11:00 pm and I am wiped today. Part of that is because I *finally* unloaded the two cases of glass late yesterday afternoon. 1000 lbs of glass all unloaded and moved by hand by me. I am getting too old for this. I was so sore this morning I could barely walk. But before you feel too sorry for me I had an incredible full-body massage from Tim at 11:00 this morning. Talk about a sensual splurge! Dave got me the massage for Valentine's Day last year and I just got around to having it. Now I may make it a regular thing. And Tim really liked my tattoo...

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The First Thing To Go

I should be on my way to drawing class right now, but instead I am beginning my post as Dave heads to Melton's for chicken tenders and fries for dinner (he got home early last night so it was burgers from the Kirkwood Aces Bar & Grill--is it any wonder we can't lose weight?).

The drawing class is the first casualty in my schedule. And if I am honest, it is not entirely or even primarily due to time constraints. Nor is it all about the fact that last week the instructor never once stopped to peer over my shoulder and evaluate my work as he did for every one else in the class--multiple times for the females 16-24. When I arrived late last week (late but not last so that wasn't it) he asked my name and what I do for a living. When I said glass artist he asked me if I show anywhere. I said yes I will be in Philadelphia in a couple of weeks and I do several other shows a year, and he didn't say anything to me for the rest of the class. Really. I am not making this up.

So tonight it came time to get ready to go and I just said no. I am going to watch Tomb Raider, drink cheap red and eat buffalo tenders and fries. Then I am going to work on my website. I have a feeling it will go better after a bit of cheap red.

The postcards did not come back from the printer today: The press broke down so the earliest I can get them is tomorrow. So that is one more thing off the list (there won't be time to mail them out to galleries before the show). I will just have them to hand out. That is the postcard at the top of the page. The back is to the left.

Finally today, thank you to everyone who posted a "what would you do" about the contract from the Publisher. I ended up writing them a short note expressing my confusion and asking for clarification on some points before sending it back. They are "reviewing them" and will be back in touch. So we'll see what they say. (Do you have baited breath? Are you waiting with it?)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Homestretch

I sit in the dark again this morning, but in contrast to the gloom and rain of yesterday, a rosy dawn is peeking in through the kitchen windows. I still don't have any coffee--Dave is out of town till tonight so I am On My Own and haven't started it yet. Likewise there is no music as the Sprout lies still sleeping in my bed. She made the morning pilgrimage and came in about 4:00 am. But wait, the music of the morning is birdsong! Somebody out there in the backyard is trilling about the day. A Sign! A Positive Sign of Hope!

(The dog at the right comes into the story later... just wait.)

As we come into the last week before the BMAC I begin to acknowledge the possibility that some things will not get done again this year. By Friday it will be a probability and by Sunday (maybe Monday if I am really optimistic) it will be a certainty. I acknowledge it, I do not accept it.

I got my postcard design finished and to a local printer yesterday so I should be able to send out postcards to galleries by Thursday and have enough left to hand out at the show. Postcards are good as they are big enough to show a lot of visual information and not be easily lost, and small enough not to get tossed aside for later which catalogs and sometimes even brochures are.

Yesterday I also chose the pictures I wanted blown up to 24X36 and got them to another printer. They have been run off and mounted on foamcore and are ready for me to pick up this morning.

The client that I am doing dinnerware for got his samples in the mail from Friday and picked his colors. I sent him the designs last night late and we are going to finalize today. Then I am going to get those pieces mingled into the firing schedule with the BMAC pieces and pieces for... The Art Institute of Chicago! They have requested a couple of pieces to evaluate for their catalog and need them right away. It is my Quest to be in the Chicago Art Institute catalog.

And speaking of catalogs, I need to finish mine today and Get It In The Mail for the galleries that requested it from my January Crafts Report ad. This is the second year in a row I have fallen down here. I like to advertise in the regional showcase of the Crafts Report, and my region comes out in January. I put in the ad "Catalog available on request". And I do have a catalog, but I change it every January to include the new designs and series I am doing and to remove things I no longer wish to do (e.g., my horrible but brief flirtation with slumped wine bottles... there are some things that leach the soul, and for me slumping wine bottles is one of those things). So there is always some lag between getting a request for a catalog and actually having a catalog to send. It just isn't possible to get it done in December. Maybe the solution is to move to another region.

So what does that leave to get done? Well, actual work for the BMAC would be nice. Finalization for the book contract and a signature on a dotted line. Oh yes and all that damn glass I still haven't unpacked which sat in its crates in the rain all day yesterday because the dog pulled the plastic cover off for a chew toy (big dogs, big chew toys. That's the dog at the top of the page. Not the dog that pulled the cover off the crates. No, that's the She Devil Dog's brother. But the She Devil Dog looks just like him).

Then there are a few little things that still need attention (business cards, all the printing for the show, counting and buying new lights, getting a hotel reservation for the show, getting the car tuned, etc.). But the biggest thing yet undone (untouched now for weeks now) is the website.

I have one sad little front page on my website which has never had any friends. I have been meaning to add friends for over a year now (at the bottom it has said, "The top navigation bar is a placeholder, but its pages will come live over coming weeks" since 2004. I am pathetic). I have a feeling that it is the website that is going to drop off again this year. I hope I am wrong and can pull it off. The optimist rises and goes off into her day to make coffee and rouse her Sprout.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Fame and Glory or Folly and...?

Breaking the whole one-post-per-day rule I have imposed upon my self I post again. If you are just coming in today, read the post below this one first. Trust me. I initially wrote this post as a comment on the last one, but it is so intrinsic to my dilemma that it deserves its own space.

In response to my last post my friend Bill wrote: "That very much depends on whether you want to be able to say on your resume that you are a published author, and that your artistry is on record. It might just be worth it in terms of increased exposure and sales..."

And that is exactly what my husband Dave says, and it comes under the category of "less tangible". And if it were a big coffee-table expose of my achievements and artistry LOL), well that would be a nobrainer (and not bloody likely). But let's be honest, this is going to be a little craft "how-to" book.

Am I really going to gain "artistic" cred from having it published? We all know what an effort it will be to do it, will the kind of cred that comes from it (even if it is very well-done) be worth it? And that is a serious question. I will be sinking an incredible amount of time into this endeavor almost to the exclusion of the rest of my business--shows, commissions, new projects and techniques. Of course I will be learning as I validate the techniques I write up, but I won't be intentionally trying anything new.

But if not now, when. I know if not me, who (anyone else). Seize my moment and see where it goes, or don't do it because I know the publisher has set this up to entice me and take advantage of me. How long has it been since I was last seduced? I can answer that--last spring when I bought the gutter covers from the guy who promised me that they would keep out the Georgia long-leaf pine needles and water oak leaves and my gutters would run free forever. I was screwed then too. In that scenario there was no upside--unless you count that it is easier to clean the clogged gutter tops than it is to clean the clogged gutters. Both require a ladder. The only upside here really is Fame and Glory.

Do you feel lucky, punk? Is there enough Fame and Glory? What would YOU do? If you have time, post a comment and give me your opinion (anonymous posting is allowed, but I would appreciate a name).

Defining a Legal Relationship

I sit in the office in the dark, only the glow of the laptop screen and the faint grey dawn creeping in through the windows pierce the gloom. My music is the sound of the furnace doing the morning heat-up. It is the one time of the day when the house is toasty warm, almost too warm. There is no coffee yet, I might microwave some from yesterday if Dave does not make any before he leaves for work, or I might treat myself to one at Jupiter Coffee on the way home from taking the Sprout to school. There are many possibilities. And that is the thread of the day... Possibilities.

The contract must go back to the Publisher today and I still have not decided what changes I am going to request, if any. The more I read it, the more I feel that it is written not just allowing but encouraging them to rip me off. And I wonder, should I try to change that or just accept that my benefits from having a book published will be less tangible (fame and glory, fame and glory--and maybe some additional commissions, outright sales, or new gallery connections because I am a Published Author).

I tend to take the moral high ground--which can also be called biting one's nose off to spite one's face in the vernacular. Dave is more pragmatic. He is a perfect discussion partner for this issue, and still, I am unresolved! The contract was reviewed by an Intellectual Property lawyer and he put so much red in it it looks like a checkerboard at the beginning of the game. And that is why we have lawyers review things for us--so they can take the existing amount of skew and twist it back into our favor. There is no way in hell the Publisher will agree to even half of what he has proposed, but that is not the point. The point is to highlight the inequity of the deal. And he has. But we knew it would be inequitous. Turns out there is actually no such word inequitous, the word is instead inequitable meaning unfair. Maybe because it would cause confusion with iniquitous, meaning wicked.

One of the things that bothers me the most is that it is actually in their best interests to sell the book for under wholesale because then they only owe me pennies in royalties--they more than make up their losses from the distributor by stiffing me. So what checks are there in place to make them not want to cheat me? I mean, they don't know me personally, and if they are just looking at the structure of a deal and how much they can make on it, and they see that they can actually make more money by selling the book at a 54% discount than they can at a 50% discount, why wouldn't they jump at it? Yeah, so I don't make anything, so what? I hear Dave grind the coffee beans and I know that for yet another day I am saved from swill and effort.

Then there is the issue of Rights. It used to be that when a book went out of print the author would get all rights to it back--rights for a new edition, a revision, a whatever. But in the electronic age books can be published on-demand and thus never go out of print. This sounds good at first pass, but it also means by the structure of the contract that an author never gets the rights to the book back and the Publisher gets to do all revisions, new editions, anthologies, compilations, etc., at their sole discretion and whim. And the royalty structure is seriously diminished.

So what do I, the first time author, really get? The very small advance which does not even begin to cover the time it takes to write the book at a wage made by the grocery baggers at Publix, the knowledge that I will never see another dime in income--there will always be some Publisher's expense which is offset by my royalty (picture the Ebeneezer character from the Simpsons as the Publisher rubbing his hands together cackling with glee), and a book. They get us because we will do anything to see our names in print and they know that if we say no, there are dozens of people lining up behind us who will say yes. They (the iniquitous Publisher) encouraged me to read the contract carefully, take my time, all the while knowing that all I was going to get out of the exercise was a thorough understanding of how I was going to be screwed--there would be no changes. Now the question is, can I manage not to let the knowledge bother me?

Friday, February 03, 2006

TGIF (not)

Coffee in the Alaska Skyline "Last Frontier" mug is cold, fitting. Music is "Bat out of Hell" by Meatloaf. What are the odds? Friday, it's Friday again. I feel like it was just last Friday. Most people look forward to Friday. For me it marks another week of too little done and too much to do...

OK, stop right there. It was only too little if I think it was too little. I am doing great. I am one of those people who will die with things in her Inbox and I just need to GET OVER IT.


I left the post above on the screen and went off to meet another glass artist who is also relatively new to the area and Have Lunch. Oh what a creative inspiration it was! Talking about art and quest and motivation and technique and NEVER ONCE about BUSINESS. It almost motivated me to finish cleaning the studio when I got home. Instead I answer email (galleries interested in my work, caloo calay!) finish this post and add one of the pics I got back from the photographer yesterday...

I keep saying "the photographer" as if i need to protect his identity. Yes, he is a superhero to me, but I can share him with the world: Thank you Bart Kasten of Bart's Art Photography in East Atlanta. Go Bart!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

I Feel the Bite

There are insufficient quantities of coffee mate so I had to mix it with 2% milk. It is a harbinger for the day. There are (counting today) 12 days left to the BMAC. Today I have got to come up with a piece list and put together the completely unrealistic firing schedule for it (too many pieces + too few days = totally unrealistic). I also have to finish the postcard and have it printed somewhere, choose the pictures I will have blown up to hang on my stark white walls and get them to the large format reproduction place. Then there are samples to fire and fedex to a client, glass to unpack, palpitations to have...

I got the contract edits back from the lawyer yesterday. They make me anxious. Instead of feeling incredibly honored and excited about being chosen to write this book I start feeling like the publisher is a greedy Ebeneezer chortling madly, claws extended to rip out the heart and soul of my effort and creativity and sell it for parts on the black literary market...

Dave thinks I am insane. He gently reminds me that I am not Stephen King or J. K. Rowling and thus will not get control over the edits and choices the publisher makes on the way to getting the book out the door. I am depressed. I would be much happier not having to think about whether someone is trying to gouge me for every nickel, dime and right. I would rather continue to be a PollyAnna--but then I hark back to having a gallery stiff me for work they sold and never paid me for and how burned I was (and still am). I hold grudges for a long time...

And then the coin flips again, it lands tails--for turn tail and run. I think of what a contract really is: basis for legal action. If you have a contract you must enforce it for it to mean anything. Enforcing it means, at best, arbitration, at worst, court and legal fees and more anxiety than a heart can stand without bursting. If you get to the point where you need to worry about the details of a contract, then you have already lost. So why bother? Really shady and unethical people are not going to be stopped by a contract. Do I want to get involved in anything I need a contract for? Maybe I don't even want to do the book. I forget all about Fame and Glory...

The coin jumps back in the air for the last time and it lands heads--for full steam ahead. A contract exists between honest people to explicitly spell out their rights and obligations so there are no surprises on either side. They are not written with the intent to litigate, but to guide and provide answers to questions that may arise in the process. I know that the contract the Publisher gives me will be heavily skewed in their favor and I should not be insulted by this fact. The Publisher does not have my best interests at heart--they are a Corporation (part of Barnes and Noble, to be exact). They have Shareholders, and Employees, and Directors who all come before me. It would be criminally naive to think they are looking out for me when they write the contract (or should). It is my responsibility to weigh the allocation of rights and rewards they propose and to counter-propose a contract more in my favor.

I also must decide what proposed changes in the contract I cannot live without. I need to do that calmly, alone, not in the midst of the negotiation, and not as a response to their counter to my counter. For heaven's sake, I have bought five houses! If I can get through that--dealing not only with someone who does not have my best interests at heart but who is also not a rational human being--then I should be able to sail through this.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Waiting for Godot in a Big Van

The coffee maker gave it's last gurgling sigh and I am up to fill my cup: Starbuck's Skyline Alaska, "The Last Frontier". Random shuffle on the iPod ushers in the day with Martha Reeves and the Vandellas "Nowhere to Run". Is it a sign? For whom? On to the day!

With any luck at all the new kiln lid for Big Bertha will be delivered this morning between 9 and 11. It was supposed to be here Monday between 1:30 and 5:00. Monday at 3:30 I called to find out the status and after much transferring and hold time was told my delivery was next in the route but 1) the two shipments in front of me had been refused and the driver wouldn't be able to get it off the truck, and 2) the driver didn't have a liftgate or pallet jack (or both) and so wouldn't be able to get it off the truck (my shipment weighs 418 lbs).

This is my first time dealing with this particular freight company. I have so far not been impressed. I wondered aloud why I had not been called first thing in the day and notified of the lack of the equipment I requested and paid for to get my stuff off the truck (lift gate and pallet jack) thus freeing me up to Get Something Done instead of having to listen for the door all day (I cannot hear the doorbell from the studio, a flaw, I know). The harried dispatcher asked if they could bring it back Tuesday and I said no, appointment with the photographer. She asked when I want it and I gave her the 9-11 window today.

Normally you don't get such tiny windows for delivery but they screwed up, she was grateful for my understanding, and she probably has today off anyway so won't have to hear me scream when it gets Screwed Up Again! (A side note: there was a voice message waiting when I got back from the photographer yesterday afternoon--the driver from the freight company had tried to deliver while I was gone. Is it any wonder I lack confidence in the potential for a smooth hand-off today?)

So why the tight window? Because my wondrous spouse has procured tickets for the new aquarium! J is staying home from school today so we can leave as soon as the kiln lid is delivered or at 11:00, whichever comes first. Our tickets for the aquarium are for noon, you see. It is so popular that you don't just buy tickets, or buy tickets for a specific day. No, you get a tiny window--an hour--in which to enter the aquarium. The you can stay as long as you like. I see fish-inspired work in my glass future.

But back to my delivery. I am still trying to figure out how the kiln lid weighs 418 lbs even in crating. I have removed the extant lid and repaired it once with the help of another person. I am strong, but I do not think I could do over 200 lbs. And I still haven't unloaded the glass from Bullseye which wouldn't fit into the garage so had to go on the parking pad under plastic. (One might uncharitably wonder why I was in such a hurry to get it last week. The answer: The frit.) So now when the 418 lb kiln lid gets here where am I going to put it? Answer: further back on the parking pad!

Martha Stewart moment: Good thing Dave never wanted to park in the garage (it was lost to kilns, molds, display equipment, workshop and crap). Good thing he didn't want to park on the parking pad either. Maybe I could get Home Depot to come out with a shed and just put it together over everything on the parking pad...

That would have been the end of the post, but Jessie just came running into the room yelling "Madagascar!". I didn't get it. She caught my quizzical look and said, "Madagascar" and pointed to the iPod which was playing "Staying Alive" by the Bee Gees. "That song was in Madagascar." From now on I will have John Travolta in a white suit morphed into four cartoon zoo animals striding down the streets of New York City whenever I hear that song. Any residual edgy sexiness I might have clung to in my memory of it is just gone. Yet another casualty of Growing Up, Real Life and Kids.