So I am ready to launch myself as an Indie publisher, in order to bring out the first novel in my crime series set in Scarborough, The Art of the Imperfect. I have spent the last month or so talking to people and gathering information and I now have a path to follow. At this moment, it doesn’t feel easy, it feels like an exercise in hat spinning.
During the previous fortnight I have had my editor’s hat on. It is interesting to note that even seasoned writers have their internal critic. Mine comes out when I am in editor mode. I noticed this with my last book, but that time I had a publisher waiting and encouraging. This time I don’t have that as an impetus and the process has been tougher than ever. However, I do at last have my manuscript prepared for the proof reader – a hat I refuse to wear. I’ll proof read (for myself and others) short offerings, such as an article or newsletter, but an extended work is different. I still hold fast to the belief that proof reading has to be done by another professional, and luckily I have a trusted colleague to do it: http://www.thewriterthebetter.co.uk/
Now I must put on my publisher, designer and IT-supremo hats, in order to work through things like: front/back pages; ISBNs; publishing house logo; cover design; and formatting the manuscript to Kindle and Createspace requirements. And probably various other little issues which are still to be discovered. I would prefer to bring in professionals where I can, unfortunately, my budget prohibits much reliance on others.
Though there is something tantalising and exciting about being in so much control of the process, right now I’d rather be wearing just one hat – the writer’s one. On the other hand, if I get through this anything like half successfully, then maybe I will be more comfortable with the hat spinning.
That is for the future, today I am on the path as an Indie publisher, taking it one step at a time, with my various hats dangling on cords around my neck.
Dear Aunty Ermintrude, I’m here with the girls, we always spend the Summer up here in amongst the buttercups, meadow sweet, clover and vetch. It gives that distinctive flavour to the cream and cheese. We get on well generally, no pushing or shoving, well there’s enough for all of us. It’s peaceful up here but never quiet: the insects hum and zzz; the birds twitters; and then there’s us with our bells. A proper Alpine choir we make. Love….
I now have drafts of the first three novels in my crime series set in Scarborough, North Yorkshire. All these drafts are at different stages. I imagine everyone has their own way of drafting, re-drafting, re-writing, editing. My process is a spiralling one, whereby I go back and back to the material, but I am never quite touching the same point twice.
Feedback is a very important factor in my drafting process. Feedback at the right moment and from people I can trust. I will normally write quite freely to start with, printing out as I go and then scribbling on the print out as new things occur to me.
I will do a re-read and re-write incorporating these scribbles and then give out to feedback. This should then inform my next re-write. I usually leave the material at this point and come back to it later for another round of reading-writing-scribbling plus more comments from others if I feel I need them. This should bring me to my final draft. After this is complete, I will read with my editor hat on and there maybe some editing to do. The last stage is proof reading, but I would always prefer someone else to do this.
The Art of the Imperfect (novel 1) is in its final draft and I am ready to read it as editor rather than author before releasing it to the proof reader. The Art of Survival (novel 2) is receiving feedback from trusted writerly friends. And The Art of Breathing (novel 3) is in its chaotic first draft form.
I also think there is an art to knowing when to let go of a draft, move onto editing, proof reading and then release it to an audience. I know writers who get stuck drafting and re-drafting, never completely satisfied, caught in ever-decreasing circles. At least my spiral should eventually throw me outwards. And there will always be another book, another article, another opportunity to say what we meant to say, but didn’t quite, in the previous one. I believe that all creative endeavour – all life – is an attempt at The Art of the Imperfect.
Now I am past fifty, perhaps I can be forgiven for being nostalgic on occasion. Both my husband and I worked for the BBC in the 1980s (he did for much longer than I did). He spent his time on top of high points around the country ensuring signals from outside broadcast events made it back to TV centre in London. He was eventually replaced by a satellite link.
I was a programme assistant for BBC Radio 4. A grand title for a very lowly job, I mainly made sure the important people got tea and coffee, I typed script, booked studios and booked equipment (like uhers, tape recorders which weighed a ton – does anyone remember them?). I remember the air in our office smelling of newspaper and newspaper ink.
One of my tasks was to do the post production contracts. I would listen to the programme on a huge reel-to-reel tape machine, timing interviews and use of music, so that I could calculate what needed to be paid for. If I was lucky, the studio manager would have forgotten to attach the yellow tape which always came at the end of the programme tape, and I could do a bit of splicing of my own. Being in my early twenties, I found this ridiculously exciting!
The other thing I was responsible for was the bookings for when people were going to be interviewed ‘down the line’. This was important because ordinary phone connections weren’t good enough quality for broadcast, so we had to book a feed which was cleaner. A story my husband told me last week, therefore, raised a wry smile. He now volunteers at the Scarborough Maritime Heritage Centre (http://www.scarboroughsmaritimeheritage.org.uk/index.php) and had been asked by a local radio station for an interview. When it came to it, they rang him on an ordinary phone and asked him whether he had access to an Iphone. He said he did not and they said they were unable to continue (which I thought a bit poor).
It did make me think, however, of my time in BBC Radio 4 special current affairs and of how much of my job there has been superseded by technology. All you need now, apparently, is an Iphone.