Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Book Is Forever

A year ago today I was finishing and formalizing a manuscript, the most sickeningly hard work I have ever done. (I didn't then know that I didn't have to do it all myself, but that's another story.) I would've preferred cleaning toilets over the calling and faxing necessary to find and obtain permissions from copyright holders. Tedious fact checking, organizing the "front and back matter" such as the introduction and the "T of C" (table of contents) -- ech. And then formatting ("do not use tabs for paragraphs; instead, indent three spaces...").

But it was my responsibility because the book was mine, and nobody else would devote so much time and care or waffle over a word as I, because it was mine, and was also my sole contact, forever, with the future and with readers I would never know. I could earn their respect only with the quality of my book.

Several writers I personally know are finalizing manuscripts for contests, or are under contract and a deadline and up all night, among dirty dishes, stressed out of their minds, eating junk or nothing. Awful. Yet noble. This is a privilege. Which of us would change places with a non-writer? What else is there in life that compares with having completed the epic project that is a good book?


  1. Ah, yes. I remember this well from my academic days. The copyright permissions were the ones that nearly drove me to drink more than I usually do.

  2. I've been procrastinating the formatting of my (already accepted) thesis for just these reasons. But you're right. It's a privilege to have this kind of work, because of the joy that came in the creation of it.

  3. maybe making a baby?