Wednesday, September 1, 2010

At Last!

It was Wednesday, July 14, the day my printer, Maverick Publications, promised they would have books for me--a trial run, not the entire 500-book order--but enough for me to see the whole package. All of a sudden I was going to be able to hold this book in my hands, a book I had been writing off and on for fifteen years, and rather than feeling euphoric, I was terrified.

I could no longer add characters to my story or make the existing characters more courageous, softer, meaner, or more sympathetic. I couldn't change their physical characteristics or give them new names as I had a penchant for doing over the years.

There would be no more messing around with the story or its outcome. I wouldn't be able to change the text if something I wrote disturbed or shocked my readers. I couldn't add a humorous or poignanat passage that I simply hadn't thought of before. The 86,000 words in black ink printed on 251 white pages were there for all the world to read.

Since I self-edited my manuscript, I was worried there could still be mistakes. If there were, I was certain any typos, misspellings, misinformation, or rogue words that managed to escape the delete key would be blinking like caution lights once they reached the printed page.

Besides the anxiety I felt knowing I could no longer make changes and worrying about potential errors, I feared some disaster might have taken place during the printing process: cover color too bold, ink smeared inside or outside, pages missing, spine too narrow, printing askew, paper crumpled--it's amazing what games an inexperienced writer's mind can play!

I might appear too eager, I told myself, if I called Maverick at 8:00 o'clock when the print shop was barely open, so I called at 10:30 and found the trial run was ready as promised. I said I would pick the samples up that day (although I didn't specify when), but instead of rushing right over, I kept coming up with things that just had to be done that morning or that afternoon. At four o'clock, when I realized the shop would soon be closed, I finally set aside my to-do list and left for the printer's.

I had seen a printout of the cover as well as the formatted manuscript, but what an incredible feeling I experienced when I got my first glimpse of the finished product! I picked the book up as if it would break apart in my hands and pressed it against my chest. I kept smoothing the cover and fanning the pages, even stuck my nose in the middle of the book and smelled it when I finally allowing myself to breathe normally. The cover was exactly the same as the printout I had approved. The interior was clean. I loved the paper stock it was printed on. The book wasn't quite as thick as I thought it would be, but other than that minor departure from what I envisioned, I was thrilled.

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