I really want to do something with this concept…
I really want to do something with this concept…
My world’s on fire, how about yours? And no, I definitely don’t like it. I would much rather have boredom. (Earworm brought to you courtesy of Mr David Moore breaking into Smash Mouth at any and every opportunity.)
After the glorious fun that was the political fuckery of December, I had a long think, and then a bit of a thought-splurge on Twitter about what I could actually DO.
My overall conclusion? Be more kind.
(I’m still debating getting that as a tattoo.)
Off my list so far, I’ve subscribed to the Guardian, and also joined the Patreons of Strange Horizons, Clarkesworld, Uncanny Magazine, Locus and Shoreline of Infinity. (If you’re into podcasts, by the way, I also highly recommend Breaking The Glass Slipper.) I’ve asked at work about payroll giving to donate to The Trussell Trust, Shelter and probably BookTrust (and I already donate to Tommy’s), and I’ve also asked about mental health first aid courses. I’m looking into Arts Emergency too, and the possibility of internships.
What else? I did Christmas cards for the neighbours, and I’m starting to get to know people. I want to do a crafty evening once a month, and get into the habit of buying a foodbank item when I shop. Beyond that, I’ve started to consolidate myself; sort out what I have and where I have it, and get myself onto a firmer footing for the next ten years. It’s going to be rough, so I want to know where I stand before we hit stormier waters.
I also want to be better at being there for people this year; I always do find it hard as an introvert and someone with limited spoons, but I want to make sure I keep up with friends. I know I forgot things, so my calendar is going to get lots of new entries to remind me! I’ve already got a bundle of random cards to send out, and I want to pick up some odd little gifts in the sales that I can just post at random times. Beyond that, I need to make sure I actually keep in touch, too!
Everything else on the list is ongoing… but it feels good to have started it all! If the world’s going to try to make selfishness and hate a priority, then fuck that. I’m going to do my best to be kind.
And as a final thought:
My response, all I really know to do, is to create cool shit that does include all those normally shoved to the margins. To reclaim magic and wonder and share it. I can do that. Some of you can too. Let’s do it. pic.twitter.com/WHXo0ABK6W
— Jen Richards (@SmartAssJen) December 20, 2019
I might not be able to make cool shit at the moment, but I can bloody well enable it. I’ve got the power to choose what I want to publish, and I’m damn well going to enable what I want to see in the world. Diversity, kindness and weirdness are the watchwords of 2020!
I just… don’t know what to say.
If I think of a post, it’s either too complicated and difficult to articulate (politics), too personal (relationships), too sensitive (work), not happening (reading and writing) or just… not interesting.
And I don’t feel I have the attention span to be able to write anything. I can barely cope with a book for more than a couple of pages; trying to settle to write something here just feels like reaching through fog.
I’ve got more energy than I’ve had for a long time; I’m baking, sorting stuff in the house, bouncing around work, able to do more… and then I’m exhausted when I fall into bed, having really weird (and sometimes bad) dreams, and am finding it hard to settle to anything.
But I don’t want to stop, y’know? I managed this all the way through the last five years of depression and personal shit and job changes and the chaos of NaNoWriMo, so surely I should be able to cope now that I’m getting better?
I dunno. I might drop the post frequency down to twice a week, but… this was – is? – something I enjoy doing. I just need to get my ass in gear!
(Although for now, I have cakes to finish off… chocolate with blackberry jam and dark chocolate drizzles! Anyone at work may get lucky, assuming I haven’t eaten them all by 9am.)
I took my partner to a spa for their birthday yesterday – the first time they’d been to one! We went multicoloured-swimming (the pool was lit, which incidentally ended up with the feeling we were swimming in radioactive water when the lights went a particular shade of greenish-yellow) and had a massage and generally chilled out. It also led to the very surreal moment of sitting in a very smart hotel restaurant in swimsuits and a bathrobe. I mean, it was fine, and they’re obviously used to it, but… it was very odd.
But it got us both thinking. What’s everyone’s perfect day out?
I actually don’t like spas that much; they’re ok for a short amount of time (we just did a couple of hours) but then I get bored, as there’s only so much time I can be away from my laptop – ok, I’m mostly joking! There’s only so much time I can a) not be doing anything productive, and b) be submerged in water. Once those two conditions are up, I get antsy – even if I have a book! Sitting by a pool and sunbathing/reading/swimming – an entire day of that sounds like my worst nightmare.
So my perfect day? A comfy chair first thing with a laptop and tea (to slowly wake up and to catch up on admin); a nice breakfast; a walk somewhere; a board game or two with friends or my partner; and a chance to chill out for a bit with a book. Add in a nap and some cake, and I’m set.
(My partner’s was pretty much the same, except with more naps and reading time.)
So my conclusion is – I have to be able to have productive time, and if you want me to chill out, give me something to do. A walk. Yes, ok, swimming. A board game. Something I can focus on that means I don’t think about everything else – and something to let my brain just wind down from whatever it’s been worrying about.
That said, swimming in radioactive water isn’t something you do every day, so that was quite cool.
What’s your ideal day?
Just a few things to get off my chest that seem to be common misconceptions… all views my own and not from BookPolishers, Grimbold or Rebellion! Just me rantin’. Also, none of these are aimed at anyone specific – they’re a compilation of the past year or so in publishing, both on the professional and freelance sides!
On the editing side:
We’ve got deadlines, sure. We give you those deadlines for a reason – we usually need the text by then to do little fiddly things like turn it into a pretty book and make sure there’s no spelling mistakes.
Those deadlines are usually fairly flexible. We build in some spare time, and assume that everyone will take six months to do an edit.
But, for the love of everything, if you’re going to miss a deadline – TALK TO US.
We don’t (usually) care too much. We’re not going to yell at you if it’s a genuine thing. (If you’ve had to do an emergency repaint your car for the sixth time then I might raise an eyebrow and cross a square off my Author Excuses Bingo Card.) But if you tell us, it means we can talk to the publishing machine that sits behind us and get various deadlines and dates pushed back.
And that’s so much easier to do when we have notice, rather than as the deadline goes whooshing past everyone’s head.
Seriously, we’re not that scary. Just let us know, and we’ll figure it out with you.
Your relationship with your editor is a dialogue. It’s a discussion. It’s a negotiation.
Admittedly, there’s some degree of coercion on either side, with “if you don’t do this we won’t publish your book” versus “if I pull this book you don’t have anything to publish” but still….
We’re all aiming to make the book better. Editorial notes are suggestions, and you can say no. What we’d actually prefer you to do is explain your reasoning behind saying no, and open that dialogue with us: maybe there’s another way of achieving the effect we want? Maybe that thing needs to be in there because *reason that doesn’t quite come out later in the text and just needs more explanation*? Maybe the editor’s just got the wrong end of the stick? Or maybe you’re hung up on something and just needed a kick from an external reader to realise that actually, you could burn half your plot in a fire and it would make the book a phoenix? (It happens to everyone, including Kate-the-writer.)
And on the formatting side…
Yes, you can do one by “just running it through <converter>” but it won’t look good. That’s sort of the point of formatting things properly.
It’s a lot of tiny little tweaks and changes and most of them you won’t even notice once they’re in – but you notice when they’re not!
And while we’re on formatting, you know those domino videos where they’ve got this huge run and it’s looking awesome and then someone places one wrong and the whole thing goes? That’s what happens when you add words.
If you get a copy to “proof”, that is NOT the time to “just change this one thing-” or “just add-”
Small changes – spelling mistakes, wrong genders, wrong places, that sort of error – YES! CHANGE THEM! Now is the time! DO IT! (Much better to do it now than when someone emails you with “did you know your book has an error?” and you’ve printed 5000 copies what that error in. Yeah. Not fun.)
But “oh, I don’t like how that sentence is written…” – NO. STEP AWAY FROM THE KEYBOARD.
(Apparently that one is a proper bugbear for me! It’s one of those things you don’t realise until you start formatting, and then OH FFS IT’S SO FRICKIN’ ANNOYING.)
Also on the same subject: InDesign. Someone buy me a beer, I need one if we’re having this conversation…
Is that it? Probably not, but I can’t think of any more off the top of my head. Stay tuned for another Publishing Minion Bugbear post!