Since finishing HOME WORK I haven’t been sure what new project to tackle next. We did our childrens’ book, WONDERFUL HOUSES AROUND THE WORLD, and we’re just about finished with updating GETTING STRONGER and GETTING BACK INTO SHAPE. I’ve been gathering material, per usual, wherever I go, but I haven’t been sure which of the following projects to pursue as The Next Big One:
- A book on Baja California, based on 12 years of photographs, exploration, hanging out with my 3 very different Mexican friends — beaches, surfing, ranchos, hot springs, cave paintings, remote islands, old missions. I have a tremendous amount of material on Baja and could do a unique book, but I don’t know if there’s a big enough potential audience.
- A book on the barns of North America. Production of this book is not an “if” question, but rather “when.” It will happen sooner or later; I’m mad about barns. I search for them whenever I drive in the country.
- A book provisionally titled SOUTHEAST ASIA IN THE 21ST CENTURY: TRAVELLER’S TALES. As of yesterday we have put together* a sample 14 pages from such a book and I’ll be showing it to friends to get opinions on whether it will fly. It actually looks, ahem, pretty darned good. (Often the only way to tell whether a project will work is to start — I learned the same thing years ago in building houses.) We’ll get these pages up on our website (www.shelterpub.com) ASAP.
- A book titled BUILDERS, based on maybe 15 builders in different parts of the country. Builders who combine creativity and craftsmanship, who are a cut above the usual, who have a track record of good work for good people, who are also interesting in other parts of their lives. A funny thing just happened regarding this book. As I’ve prepared to hit the road documenting builders (am writing this on a United 737 on the way to Burlington, Vermont, to cover builders in the Green Mountains), people have been emailing and calling and telling me about builders — in North Carolina; Santa Cruz , Calif.; Whidbey Island, Washington; Long Island, NY; other places. In a short time this book has taken on a life and is happening. With any new project I’ve found I can’t force it, I just have to wait and watch for the signals. So the next book looks like BUILDERS. At the same time we’ll keep accumulating material for the book on Asia.
*Note for book-tech freaks (others, don’t read this, you’ll be bored): We developed a new process in putting these 14 pages together: I’d make up rough layouts, using our 4-year-old bless-its-dependable-heart $250 HP color copy machine, with color pics to size, scotch-taped to the layout sheet. Then I’d pencil in areas for text, captions, heads. I’d write the digital file number on each photo so Rick would know where to grab it (pics already adjusted in Photoshop). Rick put it together in QuarkXpress, handed it back to me. I went in a resized pics, wrote text in place, wrote and placed captions. Unique for me in being able to compose text on the spot, to fit it around the photos, which are my main focus. I gave it back to Rick, he cleaned it up, and produced what is our temporary final version. It was like lobbing a QuarkXpress ball back and forth, polishing it each time (yes I am mixing metaphors), a 3-stage process of improvement.