Shadow of tree on roof of artist's tent, Tubac, AZ, 2010 ©
After teaching raw-art journaling for six years, I decided to write a book about it. I found a publisher, and with incredible luck, a gifted editor. I’ve written about the book contract and the research, so I won’t rehash that.
I have no idea how people who self-publish books manage without an editor. Maybe they hire an editor. I’ve been a writer for a very long time, and I am absolutely sure that every writer needs an editor. It has nothing to do with how well you know how to write, it has to do with seeing the book from a different perspective. And I don’t think writers can do that by themselves. When you write you don’t see the impact or the effect, you see the shadow of your work. And editor pulls back the screen and takes a look at your writing from the viewpoint of the person who will eventually read it. Big difference.
After I sent the editor the first two chapters, she sent me back the thumbnails. When I opened them, two chapters had become three, and the layout made so much more sense then what I thought was fine when I sent it. I had the feeling of seeing the forest when I had been writing trees.
The book is also real. For the first time it looks like it will when someone opens it. After six years of teaching classes, taking notes, drafting chapters, after a year of wondering why I want to write a book, knowing why, and sitting down to write, it was suddenly in front of me.
It’s not the first book I’ve written, but I did the first one on a fixed cash contract and didn’t get to choose the subject. I had to follow a general outline. I was paid to do a lot of research and assemble it. This time, I’m writing what I know. I’m
Artifact statue, The Bario Gallery, Tubac, AZ
writing what makes sense to me. I’m writing because I hope that other people will see it and think, “I know this feeling. I live in that space, too. This author lives in my studio.” And then, more than anything, I hope someone says, “Wow, I was hoping this would happen. I was hoping someone would understand me and write to me. This book was written just for me.” Because it is. So many people think they aren’t enough, don’t have enough to be an artist. And so many people do.
The editor suggested a different title. My first thought was, “No, I’ve planned this title.” But instantly I knew she was right. The book wasn’t just about raw art, it was about being raw. Standing with bare tools and writing on the cave wall, starting over every time you turn the page of your journal. I love the concept of slow food. I love the concept of putting down the kits and putting yourself on the page. So this is the title of my book:
The Raw Journal: Making Meaning, Making Art. No Skills Required.
I am prepared to answer the question “How can you make art with no skills.” Ah. That’s raw art. We are all born to create. We are all born creative. It’s not a skill, it’s a right. We have to reclaim it.
Quinn McDonald’s book will be published by North Light books in the summer of 2011.