The tribute I have spent the last two years writing is approaching the time when it will finally see the light of day. Very scary! It is not just Eugene and I anymore, but who knows how many potential readers who will share these memories with us. Although it was the purpose of writing the book in the first place, it doesn’t make it any less daunting.
Whenever I have written something, whether it be an article, manuscript or thesis, I have always found it difficult to put it out into the public domain once completed. Having spent months, and in the case of a thesis, years to complete, it is difficult to allow others access to what has been a very intimate relationship. During the creative process it is just you, your thoughts and the words that eventually emerge. The difficulty then is to send your brainchild out into the world to be prodded, questioned, challenged, criticized and hopefully also loved.
In my previous experience I would complete a manuscript; submit it to the publisher who then takes care of the various processes necessary for publishing. These include editing, proofreading and importantly, the design of the book cover. Finally, and probably one of the most important aspects of the process, the marketing of the book. I now face the daunting prospect of not only being in control of these activities, but also in finding the right people to support me. I have poured over many blogs and writing sites for inspiration as to how I go about finding these magical beings and determining the criteria to select the one from the many.
The next stage in the production process, as I have come to see it, is that of editing. Not only should the editor be skilled in a precise set of methods that will lead to a coherent, grammatically accurate and complete piece of writing, but they should also possess creative skills as well as skills in the art of human relations. The latter are not necessarily the skills one associates with that of an editor. However, I have come to realise how important it is for the editor to have some insight into the context within which my book takes place. They will then be able to understand the dynamics between the environment and the main protagonists of my book, namely Eugene and Pieter.
The skills in human relations are fundamental so that the editor can wield the scalpel with kindness and sensitivity. As an author one becomes very attached to the words you have written, particularly given the overall theme and motivation for my book. Any changes and editing therefore has to be done humanely as I have no doubt that some cuts and recommended changes will have the potential of inflicting emotional pain. The editor might need to wrestle some of those words from me and therefore have the skills of influence and persuasion that will make the changes more acceptable to both of us.
Having survived the scalpel of the editor, it is the turn of the proofreader to correct all those spelling mistakes that I have missed time and time again, despite having read every sentence at least a hundred times. Proofreading is also concerned with page and paragraph layout, page numbering and a final check for consistency. It is the ultimate stage the manuscript goes through before publishing. Then comes the icing on the cake, namely the book cover. Where do I begin? The options are endless and everyone I ask for input has a different idea.
It is critical that the book design matches the content of the book and herein lies the challenge. What visual representation will adequately be able to convey the depth of emotion and the content of the book? I have grappled with it for many hours and have been torn between reflecting the gravity of the theme versus the sense of humour and fun that permeated every aspect of Eugene’s life.
I have not as yet reached a final conclusion and will no doubt select and reject many possibilities before making a final decision. Wish me luck!