You Know When It’s Not Right

Sorry, if you think this is an empowerment piece about leaving bad relationships, it’s not. It’s kind of the opposite. Though it does seem to be profitable to write about such things these days. No, this is just about my relationship with art and a particular piece.

So one thing I like to do, which confuses the heck out of my poor wife, is that I like to make my own book covers. I take joy in creating them and working on them, but it does take time and a lot more of it than I ever expected.

Like right now, I’ve been working on a cover for my newest novel, The Dragons of Orion. You can check out early chapters here. This is a working title, so don’t be shocked when the book comes out with a different name because it might.

Anyway the issue is how to show you “Four” the name of the dragon at the center of this story. Four has four heads and each is a bit different. I gotta say, writing about this dragon was fun — each head really came to be distinct characters for me.

So what do I want to do with the cover? I do love simple designs and I’ve posted some examples on my IG account. I think you can convey something with simplicity that lends itself to prompting curiosity. And I like the flow of these works.

And so after more than a month, I do finally have an option for the simple design that I like. It still needs work, but it’s there.

But I’ve also taken a stab at painting a cover depicting one of the scenes from the book. I have plenty of them to choose from that would make a good cover, but each time I’ve done one, I get the basic form going and then it just gets away from me.

It’s just not right. And it’s not me being hypercritical. You just know when something isn’t right in art because it’s just not working. I often have an image in my head of what I want something to look like, but I also understand this is just a starting point. The art will go where it needs to once I start.

My writing is like that. I see scenes that are part of the story in my head. I can even hear the characters speaking and that’s where I start writing with the words and story taking off. Yes I do often have an outline and generally the story runs to that structure, but the subplots and other pieces of the world I’m writing about can lead in surprising directions and can change that. Stories lead where they will.

Sometimes the writing leads to a tangent that just doesn’t work for the book and sometimes it leads to a whole other story that belongs on its own. That’s what’s nice about working with words, you can cut them out of the story and keep going with what is working.

What I’m finding with painting is that when it’s not working, I need to start the whole piece over again, because this work tells a whole story through a single pane.

Ultimately, I’m just trying to be honest in what I create.

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