I’m Writing a Book
And I’m losing my mind.
I’m in the final stages of writing a guidebook, and oh my god. At first, this doesn’t seem like a big deal. Four years ago, I came back to the United States from a year-long surf trip and declared, with determined fists clenched, “I am never working for anyone again. I am going to be a writer.” I envisioned working in coffee shops and airports, lazily typing out articles and blog posts. Drinking coffee, and executing my flawlessly flexible schedule by going for mountain bike rides at 10 in the morning.
But it is a big deal, writing this thing. And it also turns out that I really, really suck at details. And that is why editors were invented. For people who suck at details. People like me.
I just edited the galleys. If you don’t know what galleys are, they are the print proofs, when your disgusting, messy Word document transforms into something that looks like a book – a 9” x 6” mock up with your words. With pretty font and justified lines. So I get the galleys, and I’m amazed. The maps are pro, they look like someone who knew what he was doing made them (that would be the mapmaker), and I get the fun job of choosing the photos and where they should go in the book. Yay! It was fun and I sent everything back to my editor.
And then, another round of queries and edits. And another. And I swear, yet another. And I started crying and whimpering things like “I don’t know if it’s 0.1 miles or 0.2 miles to that next intersection” and “I can’t remember if it is a ‘wooden’ bridge or a ‘log bridge.” Oh my god, I don’t know.
I wake up at 4am, thinking about Route #19, so I get up and pad out the living room to make coffee. In my office, I can’t bear to turn on the overhead light, but I flip the switch on my desk lamp. And I open the maps. I pull up the galleys on my computer, and I start pouring through more of the questions. I’m using “track changes” in Word, and it looks like a red bubble fairy vomited on my screen with directives such as “Yes, OK”, “No, leave as is.” And “Oops, sorry I missed that one.”
Chris saunters in eventually a few hours later, with a “hey, what’s up?” then starts to ask me a bunch of unrelated questions. And I start seriously considering getting a job at Bi-Mart or the Army Supply Store. Somewhere where I don’t have to think as hard and I don’t have to keep my tenses in line or think about whether I should use the Oxford Comma or not. My desk is covered with notes and sticky notes, maps, red pens, dog hair and coffee mugs. I don’t like messes, but this is the way it must go these days.
I’m almost there, this wicked project that I so excitedly took on a year and a half ago. Mountain biking? Writing? All in one ginormous project? I got this, I said to myself. That must have been when the crying started. I don’t “got this.” What am I doing? Will I be responsible for some middle-aged mountain biker getting lost somewhere in the wilds of the Deschutes National Forest? Have I mentioned that I am not a detail person?
I’m almost there, so almost there. And to my “team” of editors, y’all are keeping me on my toes and in line. Thank you for looking at the details. I sure don’t.