If life is a blank page, for a writer it cannot stay blank; we have got a moral obligation within us to fill that void or, rather, to make that void bear witness that something potential is fulfilled when we cover that blank page with letters. It is a commitment, it is a pleasure, it is a need. When pages become many and are all interconnected, weaving mutual meanings in a common direction, we may call them called. And when books are printed, it is a dream come true.
So here I am talking about my printed books.
In 2008, AltroMondo publisher issued my book entitled "The Tao of Watercolor. Making Your Life A Masterpiece". It was not my first book, since some years before a book translated by me had been released by Masson Italia. It was not even the first book I had written, because I had left at least three other writings in a drawer – I cannot exclude that some time in a not so distant future I might open that drawer. However, this book has got a special place in my heart, as it is easy to see from the fact that I gave its name to this blog.
First of all, this book had a very long gestation. It took the proverbial seven years to write it. The fact is that I had stopped painting for a long time, not feeling like starting my self-education in watercolour. I had an absolute fascination with this medium but little or no theoretical preparation so, one day in a year of enormous personal changes, I decided to put myself out there. I reopened my painting box, pulled out two small albums which were still intact and I started experimenting. As I proceeded – and it took a long, long time! – I realized that unexpected parallelisms between my new life and my apprenticeship as a watercolourist were being established. Every time I noticed something interesting, I took notes in a small notebook, strictly by pencil as a good watercolourist would do.
Once I had put enough material together, I had to find a framework of some sort. This is the second reason why I love this book. During the preparatory work, I had noticed that it is necessary to find a truly organized form if you want to have a meaningful finished product, so I turned to what I was studying at that moment, the principles of Chinese medicine. From there, in a pure Taoist spirit – but I should not say it, otherwise it would not be Taoism! – it took only a moment to find the correct symbolism I needed in the natural world. So I had the material and two level framework – on one side the five elements and on the other the rhythm of the seasons. What else was missing? Of course, the book itself was missing.
In less than a month I wrote the whole book and in another month I refined it. Practically it wrote itself – this is the third reason why I love this book. Writing is tiresome, both physically and mentally, it is a commitment that must necessarily be reconciled with other daily commitments and to dedicate oneself to something else when you just want to write (or paint) is not easy. A book that grows under your hands effortlessly is kind of a miracle, it seems that someone out there is dictating it to you, maybe it is a bit like that. When a text is "happy", it is as if it had always been there.
It was more or less during the summer of 2007 that I could read on home printed paper my happy book: now it was time to let it go around the world. At that time there were no on demand printing services I knew of, so I chose to write to several publishers. Needless to say, many did not even answer. However, after few months and a lot of emails, a person I knew wrote me about AltroMondo publisher. Within a few weeks I had signed the contract. This is the fourth reason why I love this book. I have always believed things happen in the most unthinkable ways, unexpectedly, through the most disparate contacts, and so it was.
The next stages in the life of this book were not so happy. Relations with the publisher were not those I would have liked and my attempts to launch the book in Udine, Modena, Milan and Bologna were not productive; indeed, in some cases, they were a real failure. For years I thought it was better to let it go and this is what I did. The book came out of print and I lost all hope to see it again on the market. However, the irreducible backing of my dear husband made me see a new possibility recently offered on the web: and after some jointed insistence by him and a by colleague painter I had met on the web, I decided to reissue my beloved Tao. This is the fifth and final motive why I love this book. Since 2000, when I was looking into the world of network, I have always had great hopes in this medium, whose enormous potential I immediately recognized. Right from the web came the solution to my problems: it was called, and is still called, Youcanprint, a print service on demand.
Thanks to the careful work of these people, I can satisfy my desire to have a part of me turned into a physical object that I can touch, smell, flip, open and close. I have no children but, in my opinion, books and paintings or drawings are the closest thing to a child I can have. Knowing that my words or my pictures can touch the heart of someone I do not know, that they can bring them a moment of peace or reflection, is my greatest pleasure and a small return of what I received from words and images by the great ones, which helped me grow up, kept me company, moved me and made me laugh.
What else this happy book misses to be perfectly equipped to go around the world? Of course, an English translation but this, I am afraid, is another story.