Perchance to Dream

image copyright Fred First

I dream of color, of images in words and light together on the page. In Fragments has been realized a hope that goes way back. In an old journal, the only journal I ever kept during the early 70s, I found the other day a note to myself that spoke of the wish to write to an image. Funny. I didn’t have very many images then that were very good, and I’d never written outside those private pages about anything. And would not until thirty years later, on the virtual pages of Fragments from Floyd.

So here we are, literally thousands of pictures and hundreds of thousands of words out there now before friends and neighbors, old and new, close and far flung. Perhaps that should be enough. But I can’t shake the idea of an in-my-hands book of my words and my color images between full-color covers. And it is doable. And not expensive.

Color printing these days, at least at affordable, profitable prices, is done overseas. I spent some time in Barnes and Noble yesterday, and Korea and China seem to be sources for some nice looking softbound books chiefly of images. Close to home, take for example Blue Ridge Country Impressions, text by Cara Modisett, who I know as Blue Ridge Country Magazine’s editor. This book is printed in China, published by FarCountry Press of Helena, Montana. All of these similar books (sigh: look at these!) are about 80 pages at a cost of $9.95. Amazing price, very good quality.

But these are apparently 1) financed by a publisher who agrees to put up the money to get the project going, and who 2) gets the finished book into the larger distribution systems so that 3) an initial order of maybe 5000 has a chance to be put before readers and so that 4) the cost per book is low enough at this volume that some profit is made even at this low price for the book store, the publisher, the printer, and alas, the author. It must be pennies on the book for the latter. The publisher (like FarCountry) also does the considerable detail work of getting files to China and shipment of the finished books back here–no small logistical headache (or expense!)

I have book two in mind. It will contain color images. Actually, it occurs to me that I may have books two and three in mind. Book two might be chiefly images with not much text and doable in the relatively near term while I work on book three that will also have color images as well as black and white and require considerable research to produce perhaps 25 thousand words and maybe two years off.

So what am I doing blogging with all these projects to dig into? Well, the blog is where I think outloud even while I keep up the daily discipline of writing, delve through my image archives and remember forgotten images and impressions, and share the journey with a few friends who come along on this field trip with me each day.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Good to see you back posting. The changes at Blogger are causing problems all over. My perfered method of posting photos is through Picasa, but that has been problematic since the swithch to Beta.
    Hang in there Fred, Google will get the bugs out sometime in the near future (I hope).