Sunday, April 27, 2014

Leap of Faith

The cover art that I drew in 2002 for my book Hearts of Oak.

Writing a book is a leap of faith. Publishing it yourself suggests Douglas Adam's definition of the art of flying: throwing yourself at the ground and missing. That thought has been in my mind quite a lot lately, as I struggle to reformat my book Hearts of Oak: Songs and Dances of Old England, originally published in 2002, into a form that can be reprinted in 2014.

Hearts of Oak was the last of my harp books to be printed using an offset press. The printer and his  dinosaur-sized equipment is long gone and so are the original photographic plates. The files, most of them created using software that is now as obsolete and extinct as any sauropod, have had to reassembled, and in some cases reconstructed, from the ground up.

What was I thinking in 2002, as I stitched together a patchwork of ballads, country dances and sea shanties? And is it worth the effort now to redo all of that work? It would be easier to just let it slip out of print, I told myself. And then I sat down at the harp and played through all the plaintive airs and intricate dance tunes, and I remembered why it was important, why it was worth the effort then and is still worth it. Besides, as far as I know, it's just about the only harp collection out there full of pirate songs.

Here's one of my favorite pieces from the book. It's not a pirate song, it's a 17th century English country dance, all neatly reset, and ready for another 12 years in print.

Suzanne Guldimann
27 April 2014