Years ago, I began crafting a love song to my homeland. I worked on it for weeks in 2014, and again for a while in 2015. And then I laid it aside, very nearly finished, for several years.
I have trouble finishing big projects sometimes, as I get distracted by some new interesting thing. And the more time that passes, the more effortful it feels to return to the headspace I was in when I was deep in the creative process of that project. So, instead, I just let things sit for years, or maybe forever. But, despite the interval, this particular project has long been important to me, and so this week I finally overcame my inertia enough to finish it.
I present to you Landforms of Michigan.
I never knew much about the shape of my surroundings when growing up, and this project offered me a chance to learn the grammar of a place that is dear to me. I hope you will share it with the Michiganders you know; they will understand what it means.
- I’ve previously written and presented about this project, when it was in its mostly-finished state, so I don’t have too much to add here about its construction. Check out this old blog post to learn more about how it was made.
- I spent many, many hours tracking down names for features from a variety of sources, and in some limited cases coining my own, when I thought it wasn’t too much of a stretch. I’ve documented my rationale and my specific sources here.
- There is one other big challenge in resuming an old project, besides trying to remember how you were thinking years ago: resisting the urge to extensively revise. In the past five years I have gained new knowledge, skills, and tastes, and there are things I would do differently if I started this project over, though none of them would probably make as much of a difference as I think.
- When I had completed a first draft of the map years ago, I circulated it to a few people for feedback, which proved quite valuable. I want to thank Randall Schaetzl, Leo Dillon, Liz Kwicinski, and Eric Doornbos for taking the time to look things over.
If you derive some value from projects like these, you are welcome to make a donation to support my continued work.