My first complete manuscript has now been as finished as I can and will (at some point, the revisions and rewritings have to stop so that another story can be started) make it for several months. So far, it hasn’t landed me an agent yet and I have no illusions: this is my first novel and might never snag enough interest from anybody in the publishing world (though I haven’t stopped trying). Still, it’s my baby, my precious, and I wanted to see it as a “book”.
So I converted the ms into a nice pdf-file, used Power Point and a perfectly - PERFECTLY - fitting picture downloaded from the internet to make a pretty cover, and took ms and cover to the nearest copy shop. I had the book printed out three times, then bound in a white adhesive binding with a transparent front that nicely displays the pretty cover page.
Of course, it’s a tome. 162 one-sided Word-sized pages don’t a lightweight make. Just one of the scripts would carry as much oomph against a burglar as a bouquet of baseball bats. But it looks nice and “together”. And the pages are flappable and spreadable. Just like a real book. I luuurve it!
I still love it even after finding the first “editing” mistakes the second I first snuck a peek into one of the print-outs; the page numbers got tangled when I added one more page at the beginning without checking how that affected the numbering. Even more annoying - and puzzling - I didn’t write “The End” on the last page! Unbelievable! Did I really forego the pleasure of writing those two little words after one and a half years of sweating over every single one of 197k words? I guess I must have.
Oh well. As Robert Cormier said: “The beautiful part of writing is that you don't have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon. You can always do it better, find the exact word, the apt phrase, the leaping simile.” To make that list complete, I’d add “and those pesky formatting errors”.
What am I planning to do with my “books”? I have three copies after all.
One is going to a friend, who wants to read it and has agreed to proofread while she does. I’ve sent her a Word-copy via email, but it’s slow going for her because she doesn’t like reading on the computer after a whole work-day spent at one. Once she’s through, I’ll probably make this copy my scribble-version, in which I can go wild with pens, post-its and highlighters - if I decide to do another round of revisions.
The second copy is being shipped off to the US as a birthday present for a good friend of mine, whom the book is also dedicated to.
The third copy is solely for me. My book, my baby, my brrrrrecccciousssss! Maybe I’ll buy it a glass case on a pedestal and only take it out on special occasions. Obviously I’d only handle it while wearing white satin gloves, a surgery mask and a chef’s toque. Nobody else may touch it so that it stays pristine and unwrinkled forever. And ever and ever and ever - or until it gets published, at which point I’ll replace it with the publisher’s “proper” version.
But no matter what happens to it, my first novel is now a “book” with a pretty cover, if I may judge so myself. I can pick it up, open it, turn the pages, snuggle down on the couch to read it. It’s there, it’s real and I wrote it. Talk about an immediate self-esteem boost.
Do you also have - and act on - the overwhelming urge to hold your book in your hands?