Vincent's Yellow

a[n] [auto]biography and a love story.

Editing and Envisioning the Book


I have been working away at my book, chopping up all the prints of scans for my journal (removing margins and unnecessary material) and it’s been quite time consuming! I kept wanting to update here, but also feeling the pressure of time. Here’s a view of my desk when I was in the middle of things.

You may notice my mentor sitting in the corner, making sure I’m doing good work… :) I had over 450 pages to edit and organize by date, including my personal journal from YellowEurope, which will be the backbone of my book.

I am realizing that this book will not look like anything normal whatsoever, but it will look good. Here’s how I’m organizing all my writing:

Now all this is just for my writing, but I also want to include as many quotes from Vincent’s letters as possible. Luckily, I’ve been reading his letters for years now and selecting favorite quotes to share via @Vincent_Says on Twitter and Vincent Gogh on Facebook. I have now started going through the painstaking process of organizing and selecting material from those documents, and also putting them in chronological order.

You might wonder, why organize all this material? The structure of the book will be such that it alternates between my journal excerpts (some in the form of letters addressed to Vincent) and excerpts from Vincent’s letters. I also want to throw in my research from various sources about him: biographical, art historical, scientific and mythological breakdowns of him and his work. One of my ambitions has always been to show all the sides of Vincent that I can, in order to look through that prism and perhaps get a glance at the truth of him.

All this means that Time will be the most complex element for the reader, as she or he bounces between periods as different as 2006 (when I first fell for Vincent), 1886 (when he first went to live in Paris), and 1936 (when his popularity began to explode). To allay any confusion, I am designing a dual timeline (almost like a double helix) with Vincent’s life and mine intertwining, yet echoing each other. The timeline will unfold in great detail at the back of the book, and there will also be a small timeline graphic on each page, marking the time from where that particular material is coming.

Why a timeline? Because Time is the land we are mapping.

Why a double helix? Because this project taught me that Time is cyclical.

Here’s my first draft (from October 2009!), where I graphed Vincent and my life side by side, time vs. personal fulfillment:

I know it’s small on this page, so click on the graphic (and then click on it again) and you will get the close-up version. Admittedly, all of Vincent’s mental collapses are not on this graph, but I did the best I could on the fly. Next up, I will take an updated version of this graph and turn it into a double spiral timeline for the book (vertical happiness will be translated into radial happiness). I don’t know how much all this will make sense to you Reader, but I had to at least try to tell you my plans, no?

Next week, I will start sending query letters to publishing houses. Gah! Wish me luck!

For now, I must return to the realm of words. Thus, as a parting gift: the sunflower in snow, only a few block from my apartment in Chicago.

Until next time…

Thu, February 23 2012 » Personal, Research, Writing the Book

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