I could never do that.

I have heard that many times in response to my vocation as an author. It started with my dad. I was at my grandmother’s house, sitting under a tree with a notebook and pencil. He asked me what I was doing. It was summer, and I didn’t have homework.

“I’m writing,” I said.

He shook his head. “I could never do what you do.”

I never gave it any thought. Words flow through me like blood circulates.It is as essential component to my me-ness as cinnamon is to an apple pie. When my father explained that he couldn’t summon words like that, I couldn’t help but wonder why I could.

Just today, I was in a conversation with my supervisor, and my book came up. She told me I was a bit of a celebrity in the office because I was a real live author. I knew everyone knew, I was published on the same day I started that job and was a giddy mess for all the office to see. But I didn’t think anything of it. I still have to do laundry and feed my cat. Being an author wasn’t anything special.

She said, “I could never do that,” and I was floored. I’ve only been working for her for three weeks, but in that short time she has impressed me with her ability. I look up to her as a role model for becoming a supervisor someday. (Well, in fairness, I want to be earn my way into a full time writing career, but I’m not there yet.)

I believe these people, both my father and my supervisor, are selling themselves short. It’s amazing what a person can do when they are pushed. However, nothing in their lives has pushed them in that way, and they are content to not find words for a page.

As for me, I have a “Do what you love” attitude towards life. The writing life is a life of solitude and reflection. Sometimes there is laughter and fun, but often you’re laughing at your own jokes, by yourself. It isn’t the life that most people dream of.

It’s just always important to remember that writing is a skill that has survived the ages, even in this time of Instagram and Netflix. It will always be an important craft, and there will always be a few select folk who adore wordsmithing. I’ve never been prouder to be among them.

300

I had never finished a story.

Technically untrue, there were little short stories I’d pounded out, but I’d never finished a novel. Novel length stories are a considerable undertaking. It’s not just the major plot arc, which is easy to plot out, it’s the details. When you’re writing a story, your only goal is to get from a to b, hopefully by a route that makes sense. But what you wrote on page 40 isn’t in your head when you write the climax on page 350. That one detail can bedevil you, either by missing it completely and having your readership point it out, or by having to backtrack over 310 pages and clean up the mistake.

Naturally, never having achieved this goal before, I had never entered into the land beyond, the land of formatting and proofing and printing and selling. It is a foreign land, with strange sensibilities and arcane vocabulary.

Now that I have seen beyond the curtain somewhat, I understand why publishing is a separate business. My first proofs were rife with errors. The software somehow ate upwards of 300 indents through the story. The cover was overdone. Oh, and the last quotation mark on the last sentence of the book was missing.

My husband was over the moon that he was holding a book in his hand, but I, on the other hand, was horrified. I contacted my publisher and advised them of all the print errors in the proof. This is where I found out about the software issue.

Looking back now, I’m not as horrified by the proof. It exemplified the point of the proof. Of having good communication with the publisher, and the patience to remember that rarely is anything perfect the first time. My first draft of The Corsican wasn’t perfect, it’s not perfect now, and the proof is that reminder. It also reminds me of how far I have come.

I could have been more prepared, but I think only slightly more so, even if I’d reserached. The Publishing Conglom keeps their system under wraps, to maintain their niche. It’s not a good strategy when indie publishers are racing in to scoop up the e-book share of the market. Having spoken with a friend of mine who published about a year before me, I know that the indie publishers lack in poise, but make up for it in chutzpah.

It is a changing world that we enter when we step onto the publishing stage, but if there is anything that remains true, the written word is not going anywhere any time soon.

The proof is in the print

Things are rolling now! I have been bombarded by life changes; new jobs, new schools, new routines, and even new pets. I have truly gone from zero to sixty, and trust me, I feel sixty some days!

Today was a treat for me. I received a box of proofs. In retrospect, one would do, perhaps two, one for myself and one for my publisher, but we splurged. What the hell, it’s my first book, I don’t know what to expect.

This is why I didn’t know to brace myself at the appearance of several editing snarls.

I’ve been reading all my life, since I was four years old. I am as familiar with books as I am with dressing myself or brushing my teeth. At first blush the book is gorgeous, but upon second and third blush, details start adding up to imperfection.

The publisher chose to go with a sidebar title and name in addition to the binding title and name, as well as the title across the top and name at the bottom. Overkill for sure. Not to mention my cover art, drawn by my friend and co-conspirator Heather Gross, loses real estate to this stuff, which is not ideal.

Next, I found two banks of unintended text. Not quite a page worth’s each, but I’ve only flipped through the book. Hardcore combing is reserved for this weekend, when I can devote focused time to the project.

Now, I’m whining and moaning about what isn’t right, but it’s a proof! Ninety percent of it is finished, this is the punch list. I have a copy of my work in my hands, in print, cover, dedication, the works. Someone could write a book report on it someday. Truthfully I’m excited, elated, in a wonderful place. Once these proofs are fixed, I can print copies for my readers, who wait eagerly for my first edition, limited run, autographed copies. I love my readers so.

Of course, next will come ways of wooing the readership at large to read my stories. I have a wide network of friends and appreciate their support. My hope is to get this book to the next tier, where people I do not know get to enjoy my work too.