Due to the slow scheduling of the publishing industry, there’s usually a significant interlude between when you finish your book and when the book is released into the wild. Jonathan Lethem calls this “the gulp” — your book no longer belongs to you, but it doesn’t belong to readers yet, either. Add to that gulp the one or two months of intense publicity you have to dedicate to the book post-release, and if you’re not working on something new during that time, you’ve spent a ton of time not working.
I went through a funk after each of my books dropped, because I didn’t start anything new until a month or two after the publicity schedule from the last book wound down. Lucky for me, the questions and the byproducts from the previous book turned into the next book — Blackout‘s leftovers became Steal, and Steal‘s leftovers have turned into what I’m working on now — but each time, it was rough getting back into the swing of things.
Then I watched a documentary about Woody Allen and how he doesn’t take breaks in between movies. And thinking about that led me to make this little video…
(And don’t forget to vote.)
This morning to warm up I drew some entries from one of my favorite Tumblrs, Screenshots of Despair.
It was hard to find a lot of good information about their relationship — most of this was gleaned from the documentary, Bob Ross: The Happy Painter (which only mentions their beginning, not the falling out), and this 1991 New York Times article, “Bob Ross, the Frugal Gourmet of Painting.”
Alexander Art has a terrific YouTube channel full of videos of Alexander painting.
There were a lot of ways you could go with the story (What happens when a gift becomes a business? Steal Like An Artist, etc.) but I was thinking mostly about what it means to be a mentor and what it means to be a protege.
Here’s a melancholy clip of Alexander that I thought was too sad in the context to use — he talks about how there’s always “new blood” coming in, and it’s okay to “make a buck” from painting, and how when he’s in heaven it will make him proud to see everyone painting:
And here’s a pic of Bill and Bob from the doc:
I like to think they reconciled before Ross’s death in 1995. (Alexander died two years later.) Maybe they’re up in heaven, painting together. Who knows.
Favorite story I had to cut for time/relevance: Bob Ross struggled so much in the early days that he got his famous perm to try save on haircuts. When his business partners made it his logo, he was stuck with it forever, and he always hated it.
Another interesting tidbit: Bob always had a reference painting off camera in the studio to copy off of — what looks like spontaneity was actually very planned. He was a terrific showman and knew how to play into his image. (I also believe he really, really loved to paint and teach.)
Speaking of showmanship, Patton Oswalt has a really funny skit parodying their different styles—Alexander with his lusty German “ZEE MIGHTY BRUSH!” and Ross’s hippy-ish “happy little trees.”
I’m having a lot of fun making these videos — trying to keep the production fast and dirt simple, using only Keynote for the animations, Garageband for recording the sound, and Quicktime Pro to cut it all together. I like the constraint of those primitive tools.
The July 20th issue of Publisher’s Weekly featured a piece I wrote about book tour, bookselling, and my newfound love for indie bookstores.
It took me going on this tour and discovering what independent bookstores have to offer to learn this lesson: the best salespeople are the ones who are in love. Whether they’re yours or not, if you love books, you can’t help selling them.