Okay so I know this is already going to be my second post to this dang blog/site about this story and I’m sure there will be a couple more in the future. I’ve been going through files on my computer and cleaning up folders I’m mostly done with and since I’ve been fixing up my portfolio/projects website and finalizing the VVV Trilogy entry I stumbled across some old promo pictures of the original print runs of this story and I had to share.
Maybe I can start by going through a bit of this story’s history. It is twelve years old this year after all, I think it deserves a little tribute.
First we have to scroll all the way back to 18 year old me. It’s 2010, I’m on my first year in CEGEP (which is… college? I think? for the non-Quebecers out there). I’m studying art and drawing, I’m a huge nerd for nursery rhymes and have an obsession with the visual of plague doctors and white beaked masks. I sit down for my very first NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and I write.
This isn’t the first thing I’ve written though, far from it. before this I had a couple drafts that made it to about 30,000 words before the self-doubts crept in and I stopped working on them altogether. I sit down for this one and it flies from my fingers. I hit a few snags along the way. Maybe a meltdown or two as I wonder what the fuck I’m doing and why I’ve decided to be the freak to do this in the first place. But its cathartic. Something about writing this ails a lot of bottled up depression and pain from years of struggling with who I am as a person.
At 50,000 words I feel like I conquered a beast, a demon that’s haunted me for years and I feel fantastic about it. I print the draft double-sided on my dad’s home printer and I hold it in my hands, my very first completed manuscript. I held onto that thing for weeks, dragging it all around school and re-reading it and showing friends I finally had with great pride. I am absolutely over the moon.
So enamoured by my new story I err, will even admit that I wound up hand-sculpting 13 plague doctor masks, carefully hung to a huge marionette controller as my second sculpture project. I’m a bit sad that I took it apart, it would have been a nice thing to keep for the future. (I DO still have the masks though hehe).
Anyways, at the time NaNo was partnered with a few different programs (its how I got Scrivener which is now my ride or die writing program) and if you were a winner of the challenge Createspace was offering a free comp copy of your finished manuscript. You only had the year to use the code so it didn’t allow for editing and good lord I hardly had any programs to help me with formatting so the whole process was rather painful.
I wound up printing a small book, print & bookmark bundle for my first conventions in 2013 with this exact cover…
UGH look at this thing!!! I have to say that cover still wrecks for as simple as it is and Yes I thought I was being real a real smartass putting Oliver’s pipe organ on a cover for a book whose title is ‘violins’. I printed maybe 20 of these I think? I sold like 2 of them and gave away the rest as I was reworking the story into a much stronger storyline. Uh, if you’re reading this and you have this copy above, congrats you’re like one of 20-30 people who have it also its almost 10 years old.
Lets look at it from a few more angles why not?
The above one is the version I printed for my comp proof copy, the one below is the adjusted one I printed for conventions in 2013. I am hONESTLY kinda vibing with this very simple iconic cover and my brain is swimming with ideas for the newest version I’m working on…
So okay, where do I go from here? I’m really pleased, so happy with myself. I flip through the story, its been a couple of years. I think I can do it better, honestly. So here comes the overhaul, part 1. I think as I sell (haha give away) the ones above in the tail end of 2013 I start chipping away at edits. I do a very small print run of this guy below (for 2014-15):
I am honestly so sad this is the only photo of this guy that I have. I think my sister? A couple friends? They might have the original version of this edition (hi if you are reading this and you have a copy of this edition can we meet up so I can take pics?)
I DO still have a full cover spread of this one:
Back with my brief stint in watercolour and some full-blown ink-work. This one must have a good 30-40 copies floating out in the wild somewhere.
But alas, in all this time I’m still writing, still editing still trying to hone in what I actually want out of this story. I rewrite a sequel twice (Cellos which would soon become Violoncellos). I decide it’s going to be a trilogy. I rewrite Violins one more time. I finalize a draft on Violas (which was originally going to be Fiddles as a title).
I get this hair-brained idea. This concept of crowdfunding creative projects reaches my ears and I am a hell of a hustler in my younger 20s so I jump into this too to fund the creation of this story as a trilogy of books. I pull a number out of my ass, loosely gauge the printing costs based on what I already know.
(It’s an absolute mess, by the way. I launch this thing twice, and barely fund it the second time. It takes me a whole year to uphold my promise because I’m a fool who wanted to fully illustrate the whole thing but hadn’t started the drawings much until the campaign was done. There wasn’t much of a how-to back then. I learned everything on the fly…. I feel like that’s a post for another time though).
But when I get these in hand, boy oh boy, am I elated. We drive to the printers in my mom’s small sonata hatchback, 900 books is a hell of a weight for a tiny car to carry let me tell you. We Very Carefully drove home that day and made back breaking work of unloading that car.
You already know what these look like but its definitely worth posting them in tangent to the original versions above:
And yet as I type this I’m working on another draft. Maybe the last? Who knows. This might just be the project I’m eternally unsatisfied with haha. With each iteration of this story I find that elated upswing and absolute euphoria for this one completed work. But with each turn it’s weighted with a lot of baggage and heavy emotion. Maybe that’s why I’m never exactly satisfied with it? It keeps me chasing that high though.
Of all the projects I’ve done this one is my definite love-hate. I think I’ve given away more copies of this story than any other in my current repertoire (And I still am, giving away copies now in 2022 of this trilogy itself, hoping one day I can produce a version to my standard and to the interest of my audience).
You win some you lose some. I still can’t believe how far this thing has come and, ouf, this new version is going to be insane what with a 6-year gap between the two iterations.
I look forward to showing it off in (hopefully) its truest to-form version now that I have the skills and the know-how to pull it off!