Early this morning, both the paperback and Kindle editions of the Enso House book went live on Amazon. So after two and half years and untold hours of work by many collaborators, the fruits of our labor are on display in cyberspace. I can now check off from my list “write book,” and move onto the second item, “market book.” It will be interesting, as I have never done anything like that before. In fact, when I took a career assessment test in the sixth grade, the area where I scored at the absolute bottom was vocations having anything to do with selling stuff. We’ll see how it goes.
I’m looking for a design for my Enso House book, and I heard about the concept of “crowd sourcing” in which a request for a design, including a “prize” offer can be submitted to a website and then dozens (hundreds? thousands?) of designers, or “creatives” can take a look and choose to submit a design in hopes of winning the prize. It sounded like a good way to get a variety of new ideas, so I decided to give it a try.
This afternoon, I went to www.designcontest.com, created an account and uploaded a description of the book and my ideas of the kind of graphic design I was looking for and made an offer. The designers are from places all around the world– Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Romania, France, the US. The contest goes for 7 days. I submitted my request at 2:00 pm. It will be interesting to see what turns up over the coming days.
I was excited to receive Cynthia Trenshaw’s author bio, photo and excerpt from her book which I had requested so I could start adding material to our new website. I uploaded her new photo, inserted shorter and longer versions of her biography into corresponding web pages, quickly scanned over the excerpt from her book and added it to the site. I didn’t read the excerpt carefully, but it clearly made a subconscious impact on me. I closed down my computer and went to bed. Then around 2:30 am, I awoke in a cold sweat.
I needed to read Cynthia’s Reciprocal Touch more carefully.
Holy moly, it was a well crafted! Exceptionally rich in imagery, it was subtle but had profound spiritual meaning. The high quality was staggering; the years that Cynthia has spent writing and rewriting her stories, the endless hours she has spent with writing coaches and the painful process of throwing away lesser quality writing has really paid off. I was deeply humbled.
So is my own writing gong to be any match for this? While my own current draft has a few nice paragraphs, a considerable amount is repetitive, impersonal and boring. My sheets are damp with perspiration. I have been lying awake for nearly an hour, so I decide I better get up and sit zazen to try to settle my mind.
I feel better and think, well, why am I in such a rush? Do I really need to stick to my arbitrary deadline of November 30th? If the quality I want to achieve is not there yet, maybe it would be a mistake to release the book prematurely. On the other hand, having a deadline is a good motivator to focus my energy. Maybe I should reset the publication date to sometime in February, say the 13th (a Wednesday). That way, my wife and I can have a relaxing Valentine’s Day dinner together and toast the release of the book.
I’ll wait to decide until after our next publishing meeting on the 15th of this month.
You might be wondering why I decided to write a book, and why I chose to write about Enso House. Ever since the opportunity arose in 2001 to support a Roshi’s vision of hospice care, my wife Cynthia and I have cherished the connections we have made with new people drawn to the project and amazed by their stories. Last year it occurred to me that someone really ought to record these stories for posterity, and suddenly I felt this big finger in the sky pointing to me as the lucky volunteer.
Of course, I was already committed to other things and would have preferred to set this thought aside as one of those things I might do in the future. But there have been too many nagging reminders recently that certain capabilities, both physical and intellectual, are starting to fail me, that if I didn’t start this project now, I may well find myself regretting that I had waited too long to begin.
Priscilla Long‘s book, The Writer’s Portable Mentor has been a useful handbook for me and a great inspiration. Her wonderful example of a Very Long sentence–264 words (pp 210-211) expressed perfectly my tendency to procrastinate:
And this person is going to write a novel. She’s going to write this novel after she retires, after she marries off her daughters if it kills her, after she gets her boy off drugs, after she sorts her mother’s papers and determines what to do with them, after she gets her photo albums organized for once and for all, after she retiles the bathroom, after she cleans out the closets, after she goes through the socks and puts every non-paired sock in the ragbag, after she weeds the garden, after she cleans the basement, after she sees a little more of her friends or she won’t have any friends, after she gets the finances on a spreadsheet, after she hunts down the lost aunt who raised her father, after she memorizes her first poem, after she writes to Madeleine, after she does the laundry and airs the beds, after she gets through this messy divorce, after she quits her horrible job, after she rethinks her wardrobe, after she completes the course in how to get organized, after she makes a business plan, after she does get organized, after she cleans up her study, after she checks her email and deletes several hundred messages, after she decides which diet to go on, after she buys groceries, after she loses twenty pounds, after she looks at her finances to see where she can economize, after she re-organizes the kitchen because you really can’t start a new diet when your kitchen is in chaos, after she washes the windows, after she puts up apples for the winter. The person has a novel she wants to write and she will write it. She will write it after she retires.
Another source of impetus was the changing landscape of book publishing, especially the tools for self publishing becoming available on the Internet, opportunities for online marketing and print on demand. I have always had a do-it-yourself bent and the prospect of being able to publish a book without having to win the graces of any gatekeeper in the industry seemed attractive.
Now I’m committed. My target date for publication is November 30 of this year. Of course, if October comes and I’m feeling that I need more time, then so be it. I just need a target date to help me set priorities so work on the book doesn’t get diverted from too many distractions.