Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Sabbatical Ends...

It's Tuesday, the day after Labor Day. After seven weeks at our Laguna Beach cottage, Ellie and I are back in Los Angeles, thankful that the worst of the heat wave seems to be over. They promise only 82 degrees today. We'll see...

I was pretty good about that sabbatical I promised myself back in July--at least until the health care thing became so outrageous that I simply couldn't help myself. My initiative did not go viral, as I (ever-optimistically!) hoped it might, but I know it did some good. There's a great deal more activism in the air right now, but back in those doldrum days of summer, it seemed like the political platform had been handed over to the ignorant and the hateful--backed up significantly by the media who, I must suppose, had nothing else to keep them occupied. It continues to infuriate me that they give equal coverage to the voices of unreason along with those of reason, as though both had equal validity and need to be heard. They don't. I was infuriated this morning again, when NBC gave their prime time slot to Newt Gingrich and allowed him to infiltrate the air waves, unopposed, with his contrarian views.

I have been more political, then, than I would have wished these past few weeks. But I have also good news to report on another front--and the reason I decided to give myself the sabbatical in the first place: I have finished the book I was planning to put together, and it is now well on its way into the production process. The title (plus the lengthy subtitle that seems to be de rigueur these days) is: "Persist: In Praise of the Creative Spirit in a World Gone Mad With Commerce." As I think I mentioned in pre-sabbatical days, I realized a few months ago that I have been writing broadly about this topic over the past thirty years; a number of the essays have been published in magazines, and some of them on The Buddha Diaries. The heart of the matter is this: what allows the artist (writer, actor, musician...) to continue to produce at a time when the hoped-for rewards (publications, CDs, roles, gallery exhibitions...) are realistic prospects only for a tiny number of those of us who define ourselves by our creative lives? I think that it's a timely publication, particularly at this moment of economic hardship. It's NOT a how-to book, by the way, but rather a book which asks these questions of myself, and reflects upon the answers. Those who have read it describe it variously as solace, healing, inspiration... I'll take any of those, gladly!

With the book now at the professional editing stage and the cover design in process, I'm beginning to spend some time preparing for the publication--now set for January. Paul Gerhards, at Parami Press, who is publishing the book with me, urged a January, 2010 rather than a year-end 2009 publication to give the book some currency for an entire year. Seemed like good advice to me. Besides, that now gives me the remaining months of this year to devise strategies for getting it into the hands of readers. I trust that readers of The Buddha Diaries will be among them!

I was not the only productive member of the family in the past couple of months. Ellie has been hard at work in her new studio. For those unfamiliar with her work, she has been in her day a gallery dealer (the Ellie Blankfort Gallery), an art consultant to private and corporate collectors and, in recent years, a coach and mentor for working studio artists (check out her website.) Up until two years ago, however, she had always refrained from making art herself. She got hooked, first, by the invitation to share some studio time with an artist friend; and, when we started to think about doing some needed work on the Laguna cottage, took the plunge and created a studio for herself in what was once the basement. She has been hard at work there all summer, with some wonderful results. Now she can't wait to get back down there... (Evidence of my secret plot for us to spend more time in our beach paradise!)

So here I am, back in the cabin of The Buddha Diaries, taxi-ing, as it were, down the runway as I prepare to take off once again, testing out the neglected engines for power and the wings for lift. See you up there...

2 comments:

secret agent woman said...

Weclome back! Glad to hear the sabbatical was so productive.

Gary said...

I welcome you back Peter and join you in looking for the best results regards health care and caring for our futures in art making and it's distribution within and without the "market".