Nine months ago I wrote a post in celebration of the fact that the first draft of the book manuscript was imminent and that layout was finished, meaning in just a few months more the book — a (mostly) visual biography of a local historian and writer — would be ready for publication.
Yeah. No, that didn’t happen. Why?
Holy edits, Batman! Nine months of re-writing and adjusting the layout to make the text and graphics work together, and rewriting again, and adjusting. Again. Granted, I was working with a committee each of whom had lives beyond the book, and there was also a break while members of the committee was Googling and making phone calls and sending out forms trying to track down editors and photographers seeking permissions and credits. And then those pages of names had to designed and placed in the book. Then that had to be edited too. It was a pro-o-o-cess.
So, here we are six months later than planned, but we finally have a launch date (in three weeks!). I officially signed off on the proof yesterday and the cover art was finalized.
And I’m freaking out.
Signing that final approval to go to print felt like, let’s see, clicking send on an email containing your resume and cover letter, or submitting your thesis, or signing the final form of a closing document to buy a new house. Every cell in my body was screaming, WHAT IF I’VE MADE A MISTAKE?!?!
Oh, the inner critic is having a field day right now. There’s one thing in particular that I’m not sure will look right in the printed copy (I only had access to a digital proof, much to my discomfort), and it’s eating me alive. Yes, one thing on one page… out of 92 pages, the rest of which, OK, I’ll admit, are pretty damn good-lookin’!
Will anyone else even notice? Probably not. Will it matter in five, ten years time? Of course not. It probably won’t matter ever.
There will be mistakes which will be discovered after the fact. Of course there will. And I will lie awake fussing about them, kicking myself… as if my mistakes are ME.
Yup, big lesson here. I’ve made mistakes, in this book, in my lifetime, and I will make many, many more. Some will be misplaced commas, others will be far more offensive. I might even one day write a Facebook post and use “your” when I meant “you’re” (please, NO!!)
But I am NOT my mistakes. Yes, my mistakes help make up who I am — everyone is a learning, an opportunity for growth — but even when/if something I have done has royally failed, I am not a royal failure. And neither is this whole book a failure because of one thing that may or may not look right to my eyes.
OK, so this post has turned out to be a self-indulgent pep rally as I try to quell my fears and self-doubt… just imagine what emotional self-coaching I’ll have to do when it’s my memoir about to be made public… oh, goodness.
Moral of this story:
MAKE A MISTAKE.
EDIT SOME MORE.
MISS A MISTAKE.
TAKE A BREATH.
(Also, read/look at lots of other books in the style you’re going for before writing/designing yours… yeah, do that. I didn’t. *Kicks self again.* But I am prepared for the next one! *Pulls another memoir off the to-be-read pile*)
(A note for locals: The launch of Lilian Baker Carlisle: Vermont Historian, Burlington Treasure; A Scrapbook Memoir will be held Sunday, June 25th at 3pm at Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, Vermont. It is open to the public.)