Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Changes in publishing and letting go while writing

 I have been living with Duffy Barkley in my head since my own sons were children playing on the beach and in the redwood forest with me, and I would tell them stories, based in part upon the places we found ourselves, so the world Duffy finds himself in, shares many details with the Redwood Coast where I raised my sons, and the Northwest Corner of Wyoming where my grandfather, my mom, and I all grew up.  But it also has a lot of details from out lives, blended with real and imaginary things from the books, movies and news of out time.  In short, when my Mom read my fiction, and told me that she could find me on every page, I was only surprised until I thought about it.

I realize there are only so many plots in the world, and it is how we take in the world around us, take it apart, mix it up and give it our own special twist that makes each storyteller still have something only we can share because only we have experienced our unique life.

So in Duffy's world, you can see the fact that I work with handicapped children and the fact that I love being out in nature far more than being in a city, and that I believe there is strength and joy in diversity.  The times have changed since I started telling these stories.   Even the way I write them and share them has evolved. My first manuscript was written on a typewriter, then when I got a computer, scanned page by page into it. Then I had to go through and change everything the scanner had misread, like g's turned into s, or worse.

Then I edited once on screen and printed it out and read it out loud to my husband and both sons, who were in Jr. high by then but went on long car trips with us when they were a captive audience.
Duffy's "first printing" and the "books" I wrote in grade school
While I read, I penned in changes and additions and corrections and then had to fix it on my computer, which by the way was still not online, then print out a copy and take it to the office supply store and have 4 copies printed (which cost over $100 dollars) and then mailed those around to editors and agents, paying postage and waiting months each time.
 When things finally started to change and books could be attached as a pdf file and sent with an email, it was a great relief for my dwindling savings and when I discovered createspace and print-on-demand I was thrilled and terrified.  Could publishing this way ever make sense?  Anyway, I could rough out a cover and get a proof copy from them and see my story as an actual book, for about $7, way less than the stack of loos photocopied pages.
The first proof copy

Even since I did print that novel in 2010, things keep changing, giving both authors and readers more options as time moves quickly in the book world now.  Kindle and Nook readers seemed incredible with their replica of the printed page at first, and now have kept evolving to come in color and interactive, have kept changing what can be done.  I'm slowly evolving and learning some of the new tricks like actually getting my hand drawn map into pic monkey and adding color, but there is so much more to learn, and the skills of other artists and authors and editors keep it exciting.

The most exciting thing of all to me though, is that once my books started finding readers, I had to realize they were not just mine anymore.  I might have given them to the world, but each reader adds their own interpretation, and takes away different things.  If I write that someone is in a house and I'm seeing a cabin, I can't always know how each reader will visualize the house unless I have been really specific, do they see a plank house, a trailer, an apartment?  I don't control Duffy and friends anymore, now they have slipped into the world as surely as my sons have done.

Princess SeaBee and Boo

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