Last September, I very quickly put together a collection of ten short and very short stories and self-published them via Blurb.com. I had previously used this method for putting books of photos together, but had never tried my hand at a book containing only text. I should know by now that doing something too hastily is not a great idea. But there is a balance between being a perfectionist and getting things done. Sometimes it is necessary just to get on and make things even if they are imperfect. Often we learn more by making mistakes than by doing something exactly right. And to be honest, how often does the latter happen? Not very often, in my experience.
What I am trying to say, in rather a roundabout way, is that there were mistakes in the first edition of my short story book. As someone who has edited scientific journals and biological text books with razor-sharp precision (or so I like to think) in the past, I should be ashamed of myself. But funnily enough, I am not. For once, I just got on and put the book together. Yes, there were a few places where words got chopped in half at the ends of lines. Yes, horror of horrors, the font size changed from one story to the next, at one point (but not within a story, now that would be unforgivable). Yes, there was a slight inconsistency in the use of "'cause" and "'cos". But no-one complained. At least not to me. I don't think the tiny wandering apostrophes spoiled anyone's reading enjoyment - I do hope not.
Since there is still a perfectionist lying dormant, mostly, within me, I have recently edited the book, taking on board the very useful notes and comments from a very helpful friend at my art class. Thank you, May. So, the second edition is now available, either via Blurb, or directly here, from my website, or, coming soon, from Amazon (for Kindle).
And if you spot any errors - please do let me know and I'll keep notes for the third edition.
They say if you want something done, ask a busy person. I say, if I've got lots of things to do, why don't I just go off and do something completely different? That always reminds me of the Monty Python line "And now for something completely different!", but that's a topic for another day.
I am supposed to be getting organised for North East Open Studios - my little cabin opens in 10 days or so, with an exhibition of my watercolour paintings and my daughter's photographs. I have to clear out all my boxes of gubbins, sorry, art materials, give the place a good brush/hoover/clean, and hang said exhibition to its best advantage. Plenty time yet, I think to myself. I have thought this to myself many times in the past, and always end up in a last minute rush. I'm not quite sure why I am sharing this, or what the point was meant to be. Ah yes, procrastinating. But it's not really procrastinating if you do something creative, or worthwhile, or constructive, is it? Does that still count as procrastinating? Maybe.
In my wisdom/procrastinating mode, I decided now was exactly the right time to put together a little collection of short stories. I've been meaning to do this for quite a while - well, since I've had enough stories written that I am happy to share with the world. So I just did it. Yesterday and the day before. Decided which stories I'd include, chose two images (my own photos) for front and back covers, edited the stories, arranged them in what I thought was a good order, made a list of contents and pressed the publish button. Done. Boy does that feel good.
Today I am doing something I've never done before. Not bunjee-jumping or skydiving or even clothes shopping with enthusiasm. No, none of the above. Nor am I planning a trip to the Grand Canyon, sea kayaking around the Inner Hebrides, or going on a whale-watching cruise off the Isle of Skye. No, indeed, I am sitting with my laptop on my lap, listening to the gentle snoring of two elderly dogs, while simultaneously taking part in a Virtual Open Mic session. There. Did I slip that in quietly enough? Or did you you hear me stamping down the hall towards you?
I've never been to a real live Open Mic session, so I thought I'd ease myself in gently. This one is not even occurring in the city where I live, but some hundred odd miles away. But of course, since it's virtual, that makes no difference at all. The difference is that I don't actually have to stand up in front of a room full (or even half full) of strangers and read out something I have written. No, I submitted three pieces a few hours before the deadline on Sunday evening, and now they are magically appearing on the website, in six episodes throughout today. This is the first time that Inky Fingers have organised such an event. The cafe where they usually meet is out of action this evening, hence the venue change.
I did experience the thrill of seeing a wee story I wrote in Episode 1. I read it out loud to myself and the snoring dogs. And they carried on snoring in the silence, accompanied only by the ticking clock. I posted a link to the Episode on Facebook and a friend said they'd enjoyed it. Hurrah! But I have no idea if anyone else enjoyed it. I hope so.