My goodness, a whole month has passed since my last post … because I’ve been birthing this wonderful book, Double Take!
Both versions of the book (paperback and eBook) are finished, uploaded to Amazon, ready for me to press the “Publish ” button.
But wait! Not quite yet.
Not yet because both have also been delivered to “polishers”: two additional graphic designers who will fix the details the first designer was unable, or unwilling, to change.
I’m so pleased I will finally have stellar files that will reflect the seven years of writing, and ten months of editing, that went into creating the book, Double Take.
Why am I telling you all this? Because there’s a life-lesson hidden in this recent publishing experience of mine. Here it is:
“You don’t know how heavy a boulder is until you put it down.”
For several weeks now, since I began working with the first graphic designer, I’ve at times questioned my pickiness about the book’s layout. I’ve been picturing the final version daily for almost a year, so of course I had a vision of it. I think in pictures, that’s how my brain is wired, for better or worse.
I tried to be open-minded from the start, that’s why I hired a professional, right? But more than once I said to myself, “This is professional design??” I shrugged and tried to listen and learn. I wondered, “Hmm, am I being too fussy, too opinionated?”
Then a week ago I asked a dear friend if she would be willing to simply look at the eBook file and tell me her response to the overall design, as a reader. She looked, took a deep breath, and said, “Yes, parts of it are a bit cringe-worthy; not sure if it’s your taste or the designers, but yes, there are things I would change.” They were the same things that bugged me. Then she said, “I can easily fix all of it, if you like.” You see, she’s not just a good friend, she’s also brilliant with design software, something I had not known!
Next, I started thinking, “Hmm, too bad I can’t ask her to fix the paperback too, but that’s an entirely different software, and way too much to ask of a friend. Even if I pay her, it’s too much work to squeeze into the little time I have left before my intended book launch date.”
“But wait!” I said to myself at yes, 4am.
Why not simply ask a local designer if they can fix the paperback file I have? I know they don’t do book design, but they use the same software, and I’m asking for tweaks, not a whole brand-new layout with 154 new images embedded! Why not simply ask?
I made an appointment, walked over to the print shop, and showed her my marked-up proof copy of the paperback. She agreed it was a bit sloppy in places, was easy to fix, and she has time to get it all done before my deadline.
As I started to leave, I mentioned that I knew a bit about the design process because, in the late 1990s, I’d worked for an offset printer business about twenty miles away. She gasped. “I worked there too!”
She had started working there a year after I left, and we knew all the same characters of course. Turns out, we had worked at not one, but two of the same businesses, and yet had never crossed paths. We had worked with so many of the same wonderful artists and designers and magical customer service people.
The Life Lesson: I had no idea how much that boulder of self-doubt, of “Am I being too picky?” weighed until I put it down.
The relief I felt was immense when not one, but two designers spotted the same problems I did, before I pointed them out.
This is not just about graphic design of course. It’s about learning to honor our gut instincts. The boulder I was carrying was that vintage voice saying, “It’s good enough, stop being so picky,” and “How important is it?”
The bonus was when two experienced designers said, “… and that’s easy to fix.” That was the real surprise. That’s when I felt a huge boulder-burden leave my metaphorical backpack.
How often do you hear your heart’s desire whisper, but then immediately tell it to be quiet? How often do you silence it because you think your idea might be unreasonable, or new, or will be met with a simple “who-do-you-think-you-are” frown?
How often would your crazy ideas turn out to be pure delight for people who desperately need a dash of pure delight?
Ya never know.
That’s my current favorite epitaph. Not that I’m planning to leave the planet soon, but honestly, ya never know.
Onward through the fog, as my big brother used to say.
Onward with a bit of a dance sashay is even better.
As always, feel free to forward this post to anyone you think might enjoy it.
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Finally, thanks so much for spending some “aloft” time with me.