I’m happy to report that I have just finished the months-long process of selecting, trimming, and annotating the last major round of art changes and art-related corrections necessary to the final version of the book. Another milestone! On Friday I FedExed a CD-ROM with that work to our book designer, the incomparable John D. Berry, who got a good start on making the changes over the weekend. And we are now closer to our goal than ever before.
Because a change in one part of the book could and often did have ramifications in some other near-by or far-flung part of the book, I had to finalize everything before letting John Berry loose on it, to avoid having any rugs yanked out from under him.
The whole art selection process — the final book will include over 300 details from Peter Milton’s bottomless art — has creatively had a major component of the chaotic in it. A good example of what I mean by this is a case from last week: There were marginal art details on facing pages that needed to be replaced, for various arcane reasons I won’t go into. I spent about three hours working through various possible replacements before settling on a pair of newly-framed and trimmed art details, both of which I liked but neither of which I was convinced were entirely appropriate to the context. Two days later, after much intervening work had been done, one of the systematically linear parts of my process brought me through the chapter in question again, from another angle, and the issues that came up, combined with the issues raised by my original replacements, revealed a far better solution, one that I would never in a million years have come upon if I had not gone through the at times haphazard, alternately chaotic/intuitive/non-linear and systematic/linear process. And that sort of thing has happened time and time again. It’s thrilling when it does! And it makes the days when the work is frustrating and unsolvably vast and maze-like more bearable. I’m happy to say that in recent weeks especially, as I got closer and closer to the end of this particular part of the project, things were falling into place very nicely. Anticipation of holding that first printed book in my hands is growing more palpable with each passing day.
John Crowley and Kenneth R. James provided detailed and at times providential assistance with some of the art choices, and, together with Samuel R. Delany and Randy Byers, have been consistently generous and nuanced in their criticism and encouragement. And none of this would be possible without John D. Berry’s steadfast and always-elegant design work.
I also want to extend my profound appreciation and grateful thanks to those of you who have over the years sent us emails and letters of encouragement and support for the long road we’ve walked to get this book done, and for your expressions of faith in our process. I’m not sure I could have done the work without your moral support, and we definitely could not have done it without every customer’s financial support of the Little, Big Project and patience. I am more confident than ever before that when you finally receive your copy of the finished book, you will find it to have been well worth the long wait.
The humble truth is that at every turn the Project has proven to be more complex than we ever imagined when we started, and it has never stopped surprising us with the sheer extent of the tasks necessary to get it done and to get it done right. For those of you who have followed this process, you will understand why I am reticent to make predictions at this late date, since most of them have fallen short. What I can guarantee is that we will continue to work steadily and in good faith towards the final goal, the creation of a gorgeous, lasting edition of Little, Big. To that end, I will post more frequent updates; each one will focus not on making predictions but on reporting the actual work performed since the last update. We are making progress; we are closer to finishing than ever before; the tasks remaining are finite; Zeno is dead.