Friday, July 5, 2013

Guest Post Author Julie Emerson

Update:  Congratulations to Julie Emerson for winning The Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival Haiku International. Her winning entry will be read by Christopher Gaze (from Bard on the Beach) at Sakura Days Japan Fair on Saturday, April 5th at 12:30 p.m. at the Van Dusen Gardens. The festival continues on Sunday.

A Hundred Days - a botanical novel  by Julie Emerson

            I’d like to thank Leanne for giving me the opportunity to tell you a bit about my book A Hundred Days – a botanical novel. It’s the story of a woman, Rosemary, who spends 100 days on an island, and  each day she chooses 1 plant or herb in her garden to observe and write about  –  with botanical and mythological and historical information. In the 100 chapters, she also writes about her observations of island life, and what happens to her. Because I’m an artist, I drew a pen-and-ink illustration for each of the 100 chapters. I wrote the observations nearly 20 years ago. Last year I was involved in the process of publication of the book A Hundred Days, and it took about 100 days. I’ll tell you some of the differences between the writing of it and the publication, and you’ll recognize some of these yourself.
            The first was the different perception of time I had while I was doing the writing and the drawings. You can imagine when I would walk slowly around the garden, look at the ground and at the sky, look at the plants and trees, and then stop to focus on the flower or herb. I would smell it and observe the shapes and colours of the different plants. I took notes and I sat inside writing.  I was alone, and I was outside of time. Not only didn’t I look at a clock, but I also didn’t have a cellphone or Google or an iPod.  
            When I was getting this book ready for publication, I used 5 different software programs, and because they blew out 2 computers, I also had to buy a new computer and scanner and printer to prepare the cover photographs and the illustrations. When I was observing the natural world and writing, there was nothing to buy.
            While I was preparing A Hundred Days to publish, I was inside looking at a screen. I spent a lot of time on the micro-level. It was time-consuming, and I tried to do it as fast as I possibly could. This is a different kind of lack of time. When you take a break outside, you do some weeding, or when you stop writing, you do the tasks you need to do. When you’re inside at the computer and you need a break, you switch to another screen. You look at another and another…Working on a computer, you need a special effort to maintain your focus and to sustain your creativity.
            The negative effects of technology on books are undeniable, and I love books. At this same interesting time in the history of reading, the technology now exists for writers and independent publishers to do it themselves, exactly as we’d like to. It’s a wonderful opportunity for us to have books that would be classified as difficult Mixed Genre and to have books on paper that are as beautiful as we can make them.

Learn more about "A Hundred Days" on the Mayne News blog