The Project on Paper


Richard Bell's Wild West Yorkshire nature diary, Thursday, 30th August, 2007

bookletsI’VE GOT to that stage when I need to see my Sherlock Holmes book on paper. So far, I’ve been gathering material by reading through all the stories and other sources. I’m now scrolling up and down the document tinkering with the text but it’s not shaping up.

My print-out (left) of the project so far is a collection of quotes, photographs and contemporary illustrations. A scissors-and-paste job as they used to call it, which doesn’t come together as the lively story I’d like to tell.

The research material seems rather overwhelming but, on the few occasions when I’ve described my book to friends, I find that I can sum up the gist of the story in a few minutes. Perhaps the time has come to leave my cumbersome document on the computer and take myself off with a fountain pen and paper to write out the whole story in my own words, just as I would if I was writing about it in a letter to a friend.

Brush Drawer

brush drawerWhen I’ve done that, I could return to my research to make sure that I’ve missed nothing of any moment.

I find it hard not to go back to tinkering with the text on the computer so when it gets to 4.30 in the afternoon, I decide that I need a complete break so I sit at the desk by the window – at the other end of the studio to the computer – and draw in dip pen. I took a Japanese brush from the brush drawer (right) in my art materials cabinet to add the washes.

I might ditch my photographs and period drawings and illustrate the book myself with fresh drawings. Barbara and my artist friend John Welding were surprised that I wasn’t considering using my own illustrations.

I might also end up – as I do with so many of my booklets – hand-lettering the whole thing to make it more the story as I saw it unfolding and less of an academic research paper.