I have some fruits to show from the labors of Jake Bode Fleming, the artist designing the cover for my novel that I hope to self-publish next month. After the first five artists I had in mind couldn't do it or wouldn't talk to me, a friend recommended him because he's done work for her Star Wars podcast, and he gave me a discount for being friends with her, so that was great. I've had this cover in my head for a very long time and I can't believe it's becoming real. The story revolved around a magic crystal, so the cover is going to depict the crystal with the major players' faces reflected in it. Jake started off with these very rough sketches and asked me to choose which I prefer and give any additional feedback to refine the design.
Admittedly, I felt a touch of disappointment because none of these were quite what I had in mind, but I've never worked with an artist before and I told myself that I can't expect one to be psychic and get it exactly how I want, so I'd just have to settle a little. One of these designs reminds me of the Salt Lake LDS temple, which actually features in the book, so I thought maybe I could do something with that, but no, I don't want to make the temple that significant. Since his phrasing was ambiguous as to how many preferences I should pick, I picked four, gave some additional detail about the placement of the characters, and asked if he could make it asymmetrical. And then, blammo:
I don't know how, but he incorporated my feedback and made these sketches that gave me a lot more enthusiasm. I love the first two so much that it was hard to pick a preference. I'm in awe of anyone who can do something that looks to me like inscrutable magic, whether it be art, music, computer programming, or romance. I just work with words. There are only so many words that exist, and for the most part I just choose which ones to use and which order to put them in. So then today he gave me this rough layout with color, and I'm still thinking about what adjustments to make, but I'm super stoked.
In other exciting news, my friend Steve got married yesterday. He's a really great guy and an absolute blessing to have in my life, and he deserves all the happiness his heart can carry. We met in the summer of 2016. At that time there was this girl that I used to write about on my blog under the pseudonym "Debbie" because I cared a lot more about people's privacy back then. Some evenings, Debbie would text me an invitation to come over and talk, and I'd drop everything and get over there. She lived on the second floor of a small building with only four apartments, and we'd sit out on her balcony/porch thing. But often while we were talking, her next-door neighbor Steve would come home from work, and she'd be like "Steve, come join us!" I didn't like that very much. One time in particular I remember that we had three chairs, and I propped my feet up on the extra chair and hoped he would take the hint, but he just stood and leaned against the railing. I feel bad about that now. Anyway, he's remained in my life for much longer than she has, and years later I found out that he was jealous of me at the same time as I was jealous of him. In 2019, when I had to move and heard about an opening in his building, I jumped at the chance to be his neighbor. Pity he only stayed there for another year.
Steve has been a better friend than I deserve, and until recently when I let him read my novel, I don't know what he's gotten out of our friendship. I'm not that interesting or even that nice. We both love Star Wars and we split the cost of a Disney+ subscription. I guess that's something. But Disney is about to crack down on it. A couple of years ago, when the woman I loved with every fiber of my being broke my spirit for the second time, he drove up from Salt Lake and stayed the night. The next morning, we were watching The Simpsons together when another friend called him, and he talked to her for half an hour or so. I didn't say anything, but I was a little annoyed at that. Then he had to drive home to go to work, and I got on Facebook and saw that it was his birthday. Just wow. Incidentally, that same friend who called him spoke at his reception last night and described him as one of the most Christlike people she's ever met, and I had to agree. I want to be better because of him.
Of course at the reception I saw several of his old roommates and other mutual friends, and I got the same feeling I got when I hung out with some of them in Green Canyon this summer. It was the feeling that I love these people and I desperately hope my friendships with them will last after we're all dead. Of course the romance between Steve and his new wife was beautiful and made me think that maybe it would be nice to be married, even though I was just thinking earlier that day that if I spent as much time writing and reading as I really should for my career aspirations I wouldn't have time for a wife, but far beyond that, I felt overwhelmed by gratitude for my place in this extended posse that's conglomerated around him, and I need it to continue forever. I felt a mixture of nostalgia and trauma as many of the people there reminded me of yesterday when I moved into the Logan YSA 46th Ward in 2019. I was reminded that my life is slipping away insanely fast, and it will be over before I know it, and then if I forever lose the connections to my chosen family, it was all for nothing. I used to be so confident in my beliefs. Now the only thing I know is that I don't know anything. I saw last night how happy some of the reception attendees were about the beliefs that used to make me happy. Good for them. I got off on a tangent here, so let me just end by reiterating that Steve is great.
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About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender Christian male, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic and asexual, so you can't, unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.