Project Master

In April, non-teachers start asking me what I’m doing with summer. I spit out domestic answers, like “I’m going to read” and “I’m going to paint” and “I’ll try to get in shape, maybe run a road race or two,” but these responses rarely satisfy. So they redirect, “No, I mean will you be teaching summer school or traveling somewhere special? Any home rehab ahead?”

To which I usually reply, “Uh…”

I’m not a project-master, at least not of my own projects. Somewhere between conception and completion, the gales calm. The sails sag. I find myself, toes in the water, splashing like a bored child.

Daily or weekly discipline? No trouble—any regimen of mental or physical exercise cuts a path in my life that is quickly a trench. Work? No issue—prefabricated tasks relieve all the formless, messy hours of my life.

Only my own jobs slide down lists and drop into neglect.

Sometimes, if people ask often enough, I’ll invent goals. I’ve planned to clean out and clean every room, very thoroughly, week by week, the whole house. I’ve said I’ll take art classes or listen to lectures on art history or psychology I missed by not taking those courses in college. I’ve promised a full sketchbook, a series of short stories, a regular podcast.

Guess how many I’ve accomplished.

Still, I keep dreaming up new schemes, hoping airing ambitions will make them real, hoping pledging actions out loud will compel me. I’m quixotic and can fail a million times and keep tilting at windmills. Though I can’t answer for why I make these plans or why I can’t complete them, something says checking off just one big box might make every subsequent self-directed task easier. I have to try.

So all this milling about is really a preamble to this summer’s plot—writing and publishing a long lyric essay like the ones I’ve been posting in this blog.

I’ve been researching self-publication sites on the web to see if I can create a beautiful book at minimal cost. I mean to be practical. I have the number of essay-lets I intend to write. My title is ready and so is my subject. The art is nearly complete, as I’ll use doodles like the ones interspersed here. The rest—the actual writing—I’ll undertake as daily discipline, my job between eight and one.

And I’m going to try, dear readers, to think of you as employers. Whether you have expectations or not, I’ll pretend. I’m picturing you waiting for a book and want to fear your disappointment because, clearly, I don’t fear my disappointment enough.

Expect reports. I’ve thrown down my gauntlet and picked it up. We’ll see what happens next.


Filed under Art, Essays, Experiments, Identity, Laments, Resolutions, Thoughts, Visual Art, Writing

8 responses to “Project Master

  1. hhstheater

    I think you should start accepting pre-orders now. Sign me up!

    • dmarshall58

      Thanks, I’ll put you at the top of the list. I appreciate the encouragement. When you’re writing, it always helps to think of a sympathetic reader.

  2. David – since you are thinking about self-publishing, check out – very affordable and providing easy well-designed templates to use. I do want to buy one of your books!. G

    • dmarshall58

      I’ve looked at, and I may end up choosing to go that way. I’m surprised how many sites are devoted to self-publishing, and I’m just trying to sort out who might make the most beautiful book. Thanks for your support. You are on my list. –D

  3. Peter Newton

    of course we’re waiting
    why do you think we come back here
    do it
    (you were asking for input I hope)
    do it now
    begin the assembly
    a book takes a helluva lot longer than you might think
    love the doodles, by the way

    • dmarshall58

      I would love to start right now… at this very second… but I have school to finish. In the meantime, I’m planning as much as I can, gathering art and such. It’s a little daunting, but in a good way. Thanks for your support. –D

  4. So glad to read this! I’m on your list too. Not so much as employer as a member of the DM cheerlng section.

    • dmarshall58

      Thinking about this project has been distracting but also a relief from the fatigue that sets in around this point in the school year. I’ve started some work on it, but I can’t wait to get into the full swing of it.

      Thanks so much for your support. I know NPR and PBS say it all the time, but I’m not sure I’d be here without readers like you. –D

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