My wife and I talked the other day about some things tangentially related to this, which is where this comes from.
I'm basically midwestern in outlook. When I'm working on something, especially something artistic, I tend to be very vague and non-committal about it. "I'm just fuckin' around with some stuff". I don't really share unfinished things. As the long-time reader will know, I most definitely don't share stuff online, but I also don't share with people close to me. People you'd think I want to include.
This is because, I am pretty sure, the process is essentially a solitary one. I'm trying to dredge things up from inside me and turn them in to something in a picture, and then a set of pictures, and then a set of pictures mounted in a book. I don't know if this picture or that picture is any good. I probably won't know for a while, and anyways it's possible that one picture isn't much good until you stick it next to a different picture, and so on. I'm groping in the darkness, inside myself, with the camera, in a mass of half-finished crap, trying continuously to sort it out and make some sense out of it.
The reality of this situation is that the last thing I need is any kind of external commentary. What's someone going to say? My wife, because she loves me and thinks I'm pretty great even when I am not, is going to be tempted to say something nice. Which might be lovely, but might be exactly the wrong thing to say at that moment. Anyone with firm opinions about pictures and definite ideas about how they ought to be might try to offer helpful advice. God help me.
Even a simple reaction, an indication of whether the project or the pictures or this picture "reads" a certain way, it's no good until the project is done.
The most recent thing, the Edsel books, relied in part on the angle in which the photos were mounted. It wasn't a big deal, but it's a piece of the whole experience. It's an element. If my beloved wife didn't "get it" as a stack of photos, I'd be left wondering if maybe it was because I hadn't yet mounted them.
At this point it's got to be a kind of wild leap into the unknown. Just do it. Pull it together as best you can, finish it, and put it out there. Maybe it's crap, maybe it's good. Maybe it's somewhere in between.
All I can be sure of is that I don't want the waters muddied by other people midway. The waters are pretty goddamned muddy already and it's a job to find my way through the mess I've made all by myself.
But in the end it's all about whoever picks the work up and looks at it. I love you and I hope you find something in the book.