Post 25: When Will I Learn?

It’s been an ironic week here in Lake World-be-gone, my new home. In last week’s post, as you may recall, I made the unusual and clearly ill-advised decision to engage in gratuitous hubris: “Whatever new broken furniture and burning cars life throws into my path next, TWICE will be ready—and awesome—on June 28th, because, in this endeavor, awesome is what I’m shooting for. Even if it means postponing my next blog post for a week.”…

What was I thinking?

When will I learn?

As you may recall, my previous PC of many years died without warning in March—slightly after the death of my Wacom Companion Two, and a couple months before the sudden malfunction of my Cintiq just a couple weeks ago. After considerable research and due diligence, I replaced that suddenly dark PC with a brand new, solid-state, five-star-rated Lenovo Think Pad, more than powerful enough to meet all my art and writing generation needs, and beyond reliable according to every single review or expert recommendation I had encountered.

On Monday, I left Orcas for America, as planned, guzzling laxatives and Gatorade in preparation for my, um…‘procedure.’ I brought my laptop onto the ferry with me so that I could spend the ride writing this week’s blog post—since, given the scramble to get TWICE ready for launch this week, before leaving home again for Portland, OR on Friday, the ferry ride to and from my colonoscopy tour seemed the only chance I was likely to get to make this post happen.

I settled in at a table on the ferry, opened my awesome new machine—with battery life beyond belief, BTW—and…

It refused to boot up. I tried again, and was told that it was “attempting to initiate repair mode.” A moment later, I was told that “system errors could not be repaired,” and directed to a blue screen full of ‘recovery’ options—all of which failed as well on attempt.

I had been using this marvelous—virtually brand new—top-o-the-line machine just the night before without any trouble whatsoever.

Happily, I had also backed up all my files onto an external hard drive the night before. But not any of my apps—or preset preferences—or Cintiq settings, or Color Monkey calibrations, or saved log-ins, or…well, you get the picture. As I sat there on the ferry, headed away from my home office and all its resources for two days, I now found myself—to strain a metaphor—dead in the water. Four devices failed—not counting the dead printer I may have neglected to mention—in four months. In-ex-plicable!

As soon as I got off the ferry, I sought out a computer repairman in America—a very nice and knowledgeable young man named James, who, after running my machine through half a dozen unsuccessful diagnostic and repair protocols, informed me that my brand-spanking-new, barely sullied, solid state hard drive was “totally corrupted” for “some random reason—maybe a Microsoft update gone wrong” and would have to be wiped and reformatted from scratch—loading the operating system and everything else on—again. Everything I needed to do most of that was at home—and those mega-doses of laxative were really starting to take effect.

I did leave his office with a working computer—as if ‘fresh from the store’—and got nothing but a colonoscopy done until returning home on Wednesday to completely reformat my PC and its peripherals before continuing to churn out TWICE launch prep until my second departure from home this morning, Saturday, June 22, at about 7:45AM—to take my mother to her family reunion in Salem, OR. I am now sitting on a ferry—again—with my unimpeachable Lenovo Think Pad—which is reformatted, re-equipped, and working this time—writing what will have to serve as this week’s post about ten minutes out of port in Anacortes, WA.

Alas, cyber-friends, I taunted the cosmos—and the cosmos won. :] The post I had intended to send you this week will have to wait for next week instead—unless…some new surprise rearranges that ‘paln’ as well. But what are the chances of that, right?

Happily, preparations for the TWICE launch have gone reasonably well in spite of all this! Among other things, the TWICE website will contain all sorts of new content as of Friday afternoon—in addition to the week’s new episode. So, in lieu of the sordid post I’d hope to provide you this week, allow me to offer you a ‘sneak peek’ at some thoughts I’ve had about the project which will appear on the ‘Notes’ page of the updated TWICE site starting Friday.

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It’s been my great privilege to supply countless images over many years to all sorts of people and companies in pursuit of their creative visions, but as the old adage goes, “the cobbler’s children have no shoes.” Which is to say that decades of such work have left me little if any time for attention to my own creative visions—which, never few or skimpy, have nonetheless been largely mute for a long, long time. After many years of meaning to get to those—any year now—the time has come at last to pour myself entirely into something uniquely, passionately, and directly reflective of what blooms and shivers behind my own eyes. And here it is:

TWICE—already many years in process—is not just words—or just pictures. It’s not a novel—‘graphic’ or otherwise—or even just one long story. What you and I are embarking on here—for, make no mistake, we are both embarking here—is nothing less than a living, evolving, rather mysterious experiment in storytelling itself—which has always been my greatest passion. (Well, after my wife, of course. :] Hi, dear!)

That doesn’t mean I’ll just be shooting from the cuff here, though. I first began working on TWICE in 2004, and have been writing, sketching, and imagining it into clearer focus in spare moments ever since. I bring all those years of work to what you will find here. But even after all that imagining, I am far from wedded to any one specific path forward. Like any other living, evolving thing, the only constant one dares count on is change; and I expect this journey to take all kinds of interesting turns going not just forward—but back! Perhaps you’ve already read the Prologue and Scene One on this site’s ‘Sneak Peek’ page? But how long ago did you read it? The words you remember there may have changed, subtly, since you read them—and may keep changing as we go. Here in the cyber age, ‘books’ aren’t necessarily as ‘static’ as they used to be. The pictures on this site will have changed some too during the past month—and will likely go on changing—or being replaced altogether—not just in what I add to the story going forward, but in what I have already ‘published.’ There’ll be no such thing as ‘set in stone’ here. This tale and its illustrations will be done changing, morphing, and evolving—as you watch—when this whole tale is entirely done. Whenever that turns out to be.  …But not anytime soon, I predict.

Both I and my wife—writer, Shannon Page—have repeatedly experienced a strange truth about storytelling: when a really good story starts to work really well, it begins telling the ‘author’ where it wants to go. Characters you think you created begin to dodge your authorial strings and insist on going places you never imagined, or refuse to do things your outline insists upon. When a story you’re making up tells you to ‘sit down, shut up and listen!’—things are going really, really well. So, yes, I have a very clear idea of where I think this whole story will ‘end up’—and how it will get there—and it’s a long, delightfully wild ride. But if this ‘city’ and its strange inhabitants suddenly drag me to some doorway where my map says there’s only a wall, and insist I walk through…don’t doubt that I will. For all my planning, it won’t surprise me to find myself every bit as surprised as you are at where all this takes us.

And all that goes double for the ‘art’ accompanying these episodes. In my normal working life, I am usually required to take whatever path of least resistance will get my clients the fastest, cheapest, legal image I can produce (though often nowhere near as fast or cheap as they’d hoped). To put it delicately, this…um…does not always make for the best art imaginable. I’ve rarely enjoyed the pleasure of much time or space in which to go looking for some new or better approach to my ‘personal artistic style.’ But that’s yet another thing I look forward to doing here in TWICE. To be perhaps unwisely candid, I come to this project now in something of a logistical panic—as usual—armed with the tools, skills and art style that years of commercial aesthetic expedience have shaped for me. The earliest illustrations in this experiment are going to look…well, a lot like the rest of my work lately. :] But I’m kind of hoping that the illustrations attached to these episodes a year from now will look noticeably different, stylistically, than this year’s did. If they do, beware… Earlier images may begin to shift and change as well. I cannot guarantee that anything will stay where you left it here…

So hold on to your hats and bags, because this experiment is made entirely of moving parts.

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(Note: This is being posted by a friend in Seattle, because my awesome Lenovo died AGAIN this morning while I am traveling in Portland, OR. This may be my last transmission… “shhhhhhhh…crackle…shhhhhhh…..dead air…”)

Mark Ferrari2 Comments