There's a difference between a writer and an author, and right now it's an aggravating difference.
I can write in my blog or my journal or my travel commentary. It's my choice what I say and how I say it. I can read it myself and offer it to others. That's kind of gratifying. It's all my call.
Here's what I've learned this week about being an author. I've written a book with my husband Art and found a publisher. They contact me every week to see how I'm coming along. Their goal is probably to keep me moving and maybe to provide encouragement, but what I'm feeling is guilt and frustration. For three weeks now I've said I'll have the materials to them "next week".
Issue One is format - my responsibility. So I spent several days selecting photos to be inserted into the manuscript - images with meaning to accompany the text. Then yesterday I realized none of the photos are 300 ppi (pixels per inch) which is required by the publisher. So I removed them all and am developing an accompanying webpage for people who want to see our experience in addition to reading about it.
When you remove something from a manuscript, all the text has to be revisited and any "widows and orphans" fixed. That's where you have the first or last line of a paragraph that turns up on a different page from the rest of the paragraph. The book has 190 pages, so the revisiting took a while.
If you've decided to have no ragged edges on the right, Word will set that up for you. But sometimes there are multiple spaces between words. Then you have the option of hyphenating words to fill in some of those blanks. I did that manually so I'd have more control over which words I hyphenated and which words I left alone. Sometimes, when I fixed the "widows and orphans" issue above, I had to remove hyphens I'd put in before or add new ones. Another revisit of 190 pages.
As a "final touch" you add headers - in this case, the book title on odd pages and the chapter title on even pages. There are four chapters. This requires inserting a "section break" -- which I have never done in Word -- and an advanced-user feature called a "field" so the correct chapter title will display. I will need to take an online tutorial to figure this out - probably this morning, since it's the only time I have available this week
Issue Two is finishing up the content. Art has drawn a map and I have given it to two graphic artist friends to clean up. One of them has a full-time job and a wife and two kids. The other is going to school full time. Both say they'll work on the map "when I have time, hopefully this weekend".
One friend read the manuscript and would like me to add a few pages at the end. It's an excellent idea but requires an interview with my husband, the subject of the book. She has the questions for me to ask, but hasn't had time to send them to me yet. She has a full-time job.
Then I have a niggling thought. What if the margins I set up aren't exactly what's needed for a 6 x 9 book? The publisher sent me the numbers, but I have a Mac version of Word and you never know what minor differences will turn up between the Mac and the PC version.
I tore myself away from the computer yesterday and went for a three-mile walk with Art, but almost everything else I normally do got set aside this week. This feels like working on a term paper with a deadline. I thought I was finished with that.
On Tuesday Art and I are flying to Houston and back. We need a few more frequent flyer miles to retain our MVP status on Alaska Airlines, and we've got a few trips next year where we can use the first-two-bags-fly-free perk and the first-class-waitlist status. We'll fly four hours, get off the plane for half an hour, and fly four hours home. I'd planned on taking a book, but I suspect I'll have the laptop instead. To work on the "section breaks".