Compelling

I arrive there first. The room. Small. Whiteboard scribbled with a schematic and  notes on HD cameras, prices, angles to the stage. A black rectangle sits in the middle of the room. Its white legs are stick-like, skinny appendages to its flat bulk. I sit, squeezing my legs and chair into the space between two of them. The widescreen monitor sits inert, blank at the other end of the table. Its cable is unconnected like a sleeping snake on the black. A fractured cross of lines splits the surface of the table where four smaller rectangles intersect. This table is really just four smaller ones. I never noticed before.

Then faces drift into the room. Students and interns, staff members, the Camera Guru and the Creative Sprite. My Counterpoint. They chatter and laugh for a second until The Director pulls us all tight. He is the hand tugging us toward today’s purpose. 

“We’re here to talk about Gordon’s book…”

Awkwardness falls suddenly on me. My poker face automatically freezes into place. Breathing feels restricted, like I have rubber bands on my chest. Jello wiggles about on my insides. It all seems surreal, this moment. This room of people intend to grasp my jumble of words, pages, ideas, angst and wrestle them into some greater form. Something that invites. Something to live in the hands. To pass and spark and leap to the heart. This is my book, my Precious. Laid out for everyone to admire, talk about and dissect. I want to laugh, to giggle. Heat fills my face.  I feel naked. 

The Architect can’t sit still, so he goes to the board, starts spilling out questions. Writing. Erasing. Rewriting. He asks me, 

“What does this book mean to you?” 

I think for a moment, start to speak. Explain my creative desire. My tightly cramped self begins to unfold, tension easing. Liquid inexplicably pools in the gutters of my eyes. For this thing so long in the making is such a part of me. Usually when people ask me about the book, I always feel a little apologetic. Like the book is too complex to burden their politeness with. So I rush through it, a little breathless. Awkward in the focus upon me. But here, now, these people are asking because they really need to know. To do their jobs. And I can dare to open the door, the one that accesses the room filled with my love and care for this thing. No wonder I feel vulnerable. 

My expectations fall well behind in the rearview. A half hour multiplies, turns into two, three, four times that amount. We rifle through sample books, look at covers, and sizes and text types. We narrow the language to seven words that describe its essence. Find three for style. Five for symbols. We laugh. Get silly, inane. Fall into political incorrectness. Climb back out. The Sprite talks about contrast and simplicity. Guru throws out video ideas. The interns pop questions into the melee. Counterpoint, Director and Architect connect ideas, nuances and flavours to the discussion. There is a question about the title. Should it stay or should it go? Silence then. We settle for the working title but wrestle with the tag line… something to explain it. Hit upon words…

compelling
experience
reality

We vote on the title. And there is a surprising consensus. It works. There is a collective drawing of breath and a stop. There is now substance for the team to work its magic. Some of the group stays, but I get up, sling my laptop under my arm. I head back off to some other part of my day, thinking about what just happened. 

It is messy, this process. The book. Life. There is nothing clean or simple here. Things don’t often get tied up with a nice, tight bow. But we make headway, moving towards completion. Satisfaction. Trying to make it all meaningful, beautiful. Maybe even compelling. And needing each other in the process.  

Benjamin Jackson

Catch The Fire, 272 Attwell Drive, Toronto, ON. M9W 6M3, Canada