Thursday, June 5, 2014

Writing Energizes Me, Publishing Tires Me

I usually write my writing posts at my writing blog and save this blog for various life, liberty, and pursuit of whatever type posts, but possibly this is one that's relevant to both.

Last Saturday I wrote "the end" on my latest novel. Headshots is a sequel to my baseball novel, In Front of Fifty Thousand Screaming People. I thought Headshots would be around 80,000 words; it ended up being around 87,400. So I wasn't too far off. The last 20,000 words came out fairly quickly, at a rate of over 1,000 per hour when I was working on it. Some of those scenes I had played out in my mind many times. It was just a matter of figuring out how to get the right characters at the right place at the right time. That seemed to go well.

Of course, editing is still ahead of me. I've read through it, in its incomplete form, twice. The first time was when I was around 50,000 words in, and struggling with the sagging middle. I was unsure of the timeline, unsure about several subplots, unsure about which character had done which thing. So I read it carefully and made an outline and timeline. The second reading was when I was about 70,000 words in. I wanted to make sure those things added after the first reading made sense, and had plugged the holes I'd found. After completing the text I went through the mark-up from the second reading and typed those edits. I finished that last Sunday.

Now, Headshots is sitting for a week or two, while I'm taking a break from it. While all my writing time went to the novel, various other publishing tasks went by the wayside. Now is the time to pick them up and complete them. For the last three evenings I've been working on the print edition of The Gutter Chronicles, my workplace humor novella. Hmm, it's about 43,000 words. Is it a novel or a novella? Monday night I formatted the interior. That's actually not that hard to do. I do it in words. Since the chapters have titles, I wanted to use the right hand page header as the chapter title, while the left had page header remained the book title, with page numbers at the bottom. Word lets you do this without too much trouble, though making sure blank pages are really blank, without headers and footers, is something to watch for.

Then I created a table of contents with the page numbers supplied by Word. Then I chose the page size (I use 5.5x8.5 for most of my paperbacks), then set the margins. That brought me to a page by page review, making sure the margins looked good, the page breaks looked good, indents were correct, etc. I found one place where I had to change indents. That took all the time I had to spend on Monday evening.

Tuesday I went to work on the cover. I already had an e-book cover. So next was to create a canvas of the right size in G.I.M.P., put the e-book cover in, add a back cover, add a spine, make sure they were all sized correctly and put in the right place. Without going into too much detail, I had much trouble with it on Tuesday night. The front and back covers came together okay, but I couldn't get the text for the spine to work properly. Couldn't rotate it and place it where it needed to be. I had managed to do this when I made the print cover for my Thomas Carlyle book, but that happened almost by accident rather than by design, and I couldn't replicate it. So I went to PowerPoint and created the spine, saved it as a graphic image, and loaded into the G.I.M.P. cover, resized and placed. Easy peasy.

I did that Wednesday, and uploaded the interior and cover to CreateSpace, did all the metadata type stuff, and submitted. Today I learned it meets all CS's technical specifications, and I can order prints. So yea! I've done well learning the technical requirements for a print book.

But what I find is that those publishing type tasks really sap my energy. I come upstairs from The Dungeon and find I have little energy to do anything else. This is different from when I'm writing, or editing. After three hours doing that I'm pumped up, ready to go on to the next task. After three hours of publishing work I'm ready to collapse in a chair and do nothing. I suppose that shows I'm more suited to be a writer than a publisher. Interior formatting I don't mind; that's an exciting challenge. But covers and the whole submittal process is what does me in.

I suppose many endeavors in life are like that. Some are energizing, some sapping. My day job tends to be energizing. In it I do a lot of things I like, and feel energized upon completion. I also have to do some things I don't enjoy so much, and these sap the energy out of me. On the whole there's more that I like than that I don't.

They say if you love your job it's not really work. I love civil engineering in the type of job I have now. I love writing. I do publishing tasks because I don't have money to subcontract them out, so I have to do them myself. Possibly these tasks will become more enjoyable over time, and I'll find them energizing. That's beginning to happen at work, as after teaching training classes I don't feel quite as drained as I used to. I won't say I'm energized, but my response is definitely moving toward the energized end of the spectrum. Will it ever get that way with publishing tasks? I'll have to do it a bunch more times before I'll know.

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