This is the process: You get it wrong. You make adjustments. You get it wrong. You make adjustments. You get it wrong. You get lucky and see something that you didn’t see before, or you make a connection all of a sudden. Something different turns up wrong. You make adjustments.

And eventually, you not only get it right, but you understand how to do it right. And further down the road, you get good at it. Far down the road, you can even claim some mastery.

It’s the process. The process is probably law. Sister Corita Kent knew about the process. When she put together her rules for the Immaculate Heart College Art Department, number 7 was:

“The only rule is work.

IF YOU WORK IT WILL LEAD TO SOMETHING.

IT’S THE PEOPLE WHO DO ALL OF THE WORK ALL THE TIME

WHO EVENTUALLY CATCH ON TO THINGS.”

It doesn’t say anything in there about sussing out printer issues, but that’s likely because she was all about the letterpress.* If she had been a computer user, I’m 100% sure that there would be something specific about the printer.

Because I’m totally on the end of the project. Know how I know I’m at the end of it? Because I spent the last two hours dicking around with the printer. I’m all up in the thick of the process this week while I revisit a picture book project from three years ago that needed a deep revamp. First I spent a few days figuring out what I did in the first place (no mean feat, I assure you), then I needed to get all up in its digital business. Now it’s the printing part that’s grabbed my tail. But that’s the process. I respect the process, and that’s what’s keeping me engaged. This is how it always works for me – I’m nearly there, and the work says, “Hey. Can you please prove your dedication to this project? Oh, by the way, that’s not a request.” And then something goes sideways. Frequently it’s the printer. Sometimes it’s a photocopier with the added enjoyment of humidity.** There have been occasions when it’s been an xacto blade in combination with a steel ruler that doesn’t have a cork back.

Since I just bought a printer, it’s the printer. Here’s what I learned today:

– Our wireless connection is not sufficient to print pictures to the wireless printer. While the connection works great for most things, it does not play World of Warcraft efficiently, nor does it transfer images well. At all. Apparently this is a common enough issue that the manufacturer was kind enough to include a nifty USB port on the front in the front of the printer \o/

– The new printer’s paper tray has to be popped open and extended to accommodate legal size paper. This is not immediately apparent upon first glance.

– The new printer has settings for the paper weights. These settings really matter! Before I knew about the settings, I wasted a shitlot of really nice paper, as I watched the ink crackle and flake right off, leaving a smeary mess for the next piece of paper to pick up in the way out of the printer. (I also know now about the clean printer setting.)

– The paper that I lovingly hand cut to fit as legal-sized paper makes a beautiful cover (beautiful!) but is impractical for the interior of the final book – it’s too damned thick to produce a nice product in the end; the middle sticks out, the cover is stressed, and the staples don’t go in all the way.*** That, my friend, is a pretty good description of an Unacceptable Product. I’m kinda all about an Extraordinary Product.

Sounds like a tricky day, huh? A little bit. But here’s the thing – it was completely worth it. Because as corny as it can sound, the journey actually is the destination. While in the thick of this thing, I learned a ton of stuff, and not just about the printer, either. I’m learning about the book that I’m trying to put together, and what I want it to be, and what it takes to get it into that shape (literally – how fun is that?) I’m learning about my own tolerances, and I’m learning about a new machine. And anything that stretches me like that is absolutely worth the time and energy. The alternative is sitting around and bitching about how terrible things went – and they didn’t actually feel terrible. They felt a little like a puzzle, but that’s ok, too.

Arright – wish me luck, please. I picked up some different paper last night, and hopefully will have something fancy soon to show for the work.

***

*And also because she was around before the personal home computer, but really, what’s a little time and space between friends?
**If you’ve never encountered a photocopier project in an un-airconditioned Florida office, let me tell you, it’s a rough ride. Paper sticks together. The inside of the photocopier, being a rather warm environment by nature is an exciting place for paper to get stuck. Exciting, as in please know where the fire extinguisher hangs. Exciting, as in check out these rad scars on the back of my hands that prove my status in the riot grrl movement better than any 7″ chunk of pressed vinyl or Throwback Thursday snapshot.
***This may actually wind up being another part of the process. I’m going to try printing it on lighter paper, but if it doesn’t look nice in the end, I’ll need to repaginate the digital file and set it up to be hand sewn. The good news is, this is a small run.

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