The spirit says, “Launch yourself into greater things” and the body replies, “Umm, do I have to get up to do that?” Aspirations may outpace probability, yet we have to try. Don’t you think? We’re here on this planet to do more than eat lunch, right?
We’re here to start programs that lift women out of poverty, to build beautiful buildings, to raise children who believe in themselves, to plant gardens in empty city plots. And we’re here to publish novels, even when the world repeats, until its tongue grows numb, “I am utterly indifferent toward you.” So let it be indifferent. I try anyway, and I’m proceeding with self publishing a novel.
One of my delightful writing comrades has been instrumental in nudging me toward this project. When she talks about self publishing, I’m astonished how much possible information there is on this topic and how much of it she knows. Compared to her, I’m just a puppy on a blanket in the corner. Waiting for a biscuit. She gave me the name of the company I used to hire an editor, Scribendi.
If you’re serious about your writing, if you want to put out something that’s well done and professional, then you have to find a way to do the things a publisher would have done, if they had not all treated you as a pariah whose presence pollutes the planet. Scribendi has various editing services to help achieve that level of professionalism. They offer a free sample of line editing, around 1500 words, which I tried. I liked it and decided to proceed. I then discovered, however, that even for a short novel like mine, the line edit would cost $1,000. It’s not that this is an unreasonable price for such work. The price is OK—except that I can’t afford it. So I went with a general critique of the book, for which I paid $427.
For me, that was real money, as I’m now semi-employed, but I was pleased with what I got. I had no idea what the response would be, but after I got it back, I felt encouraged to proceed. The critique from the editor opens with “If I had to summarize The Illusion of Being Here in one word, it would be ‘thought-provoking.’ What you have here is a powerful story that seamlessly intertwines a number of disparate elements—life, death, love, insecurity, history, international politics/relations, mystery, philosophy, and the supernatural.”
Here are two more positive comments:
“As a literary novelist, I believe you have accomplished what you set out to do—elicit the readers’ emotional involvement with the characters.”
“The characters in TIBH are multidimensional, introspective, and quite complex.”
OK. I’m happy with that. But is the book so perfect that nothing needs changing? Not at all. The editor also wrote, “I find it a bit strange that Luke’s story is told from the first-person point of view and Paul’s is not, even though Paul is arguably more central to the plot than Luke.” I was also somewhat inconsistent with the point of view. I think the editor is right that it needs changing.
In addition the editor pointed out multiple instances of sloppy writing or proofreading, with an embarrassing list of such errors, as well as telling me that I was inconsistent with my use of punctuation. Well, sheesh. That’s a touch ironic, because I get paid to edit other people’s work in the pharmacy articles. But you know, when it’s your own work…you’re so busy listening to the sweet beautiful genius of what you’ve written that you miss those damn commas.
Following the critique of the editor, I’m now converting all of the first-person sections into third person. At first that seemed like a mechanical matter of switching the references, but I realized that in first person I had used a particular voice for the character, whereas in third person, I want a different narrator’s voice. So the changes are more complicated.
Thus I have work to do, and I’m doing it. I’m also thinking about what to do for cover art. I considered designing my own cover, but how many book covers have you seen drawn with crayons? My friend from the writing group has provided several options for places to buy a cover. In addition, last night I went with my daughter to an outdoor jazz concert, where we completely ignored some good musicians, as we were caught up in the intensity of our conversation. Among our topics, my daughter reminded me that my son-in-law has self published books of his own artwork. And since he is, you know, an artist, my daughter suggested that I get his help in designing a book cover.
So be patient. Maintain your illusion of being here. The book is coming.