January 12th, 2010


Delivered My Novel


Sunday at Cafe Milo at 1 p.m. was the set time for the critique group to meet, exchange their precious babies, and learn how to critique well. I set out the material I needed to take the night before, hanging the plastic grocery sack on the handle of the front door, packing up the copy of the book I'd printed in mid-December.

I'd been editing constantly since then, moving from one of the longest areas of extended dialog to the next, adding the little descriptors to the dialog so that the people seemed to be "normal" or "real", as I'd left most of that out when I first wrote the story. I also started to work on more of the actual journal entries Despina was supposed to have been writing once a day.

Now, that really got me in trouble! Although as I read the story, all the events seemed as though they were in the right order and plausible, even sensible from the main character's viewpoint... But the time line proved they were impossible. By the time I had to have a polished copy that represented my best effort, I was MIDWAY in this process, and not sure it all hung together. I decided I'd changed enough in the rewrite that was beneficial since I had printed out my copy that I really needed to put my best foot forward and send the edited version.

Timeline fiasco or no, Saturday morning, I began the reprint. I solidified all the events in the story, leaving the Table of Contents errors still there, as I had not actually added the page numbers yet... The "tells" changed the word count of each entry enough to make the page numbers a waste of time at this point, and time was now of the essence. I created a master list of the order by changing the number of the file in the title, putting them into sections. There were over 450 pages, not counting the journal entries (another 49 pages).

When I printed out the first one, I discovered a few faults of the Pages program. 1) It will not allow Roman numeral pages to be used. 2) I can't find a way to make it change the starting number without having a master file of all the pages. I could print section by section if it would start at 40 instead of 1, etc. 3) Long print runs of even or odd pages did not allow for missed pages, a fault that occurs two or three times in a 500 page run. So, I had page 92 on the back of 97, etc. (The high numbers are printed first, so the errors are worse at the start of the book.)

The pages were good until 354. Then one side got left blank, and put on the back of the next sheet... Thus, most of the book, the numberings were off. I tried to start over, but could not get the printer to even do thirty pages right. I began to put a good sheet in by hand, printing the proper back side individually. Then I got tired of opening the paper tray after each sheet, so stacked a whole pile at a time. I learned to check the printing after no more than ten. I think the printer might have been sensitive to heat. I only had one jam, so it is pretty good, as I'd put over 1000 sheets through it by then. I learned to let the sheets sit a while before reversing them.

Soon, I'd run out of paper. I keep a box full of 20 lb. bond in the computer room. I went back, but could not find it anywhere. (The house is badly under destruction while the construction takes place. Many things were moved for storage to the old house, where a piece of plywood protecting a set of useless attic windows on a dormer that is purely ornamental fell over, allowing rain water to run down. I sent a lightweight friend into the house to check for something and her foot went through the floor as she tried to get into the bedroom on her way to the most likely storage area...)

I decided ahead of time to stay overnight. The powers that be were definitely in Pandemonium Land. The motel was under construction, with only one wing open. "I'd like a non-smoking single."

Pursing his lips, he shakes his head "no" as he scans his computer. "We don't have one available."

"I guess I'd better go elsewhere." I feel defeated, wondering if I am "meant" to drive on home in the dark, after not sleeping more than a few hours the night before as I fought with the printer to create the most recent vision of the book for its debut.

"We have a suite available that is no smoking."

"I probably couldn't afford it, eying the chart for smoking rooms, which began at $141. I had stayed at this motel before, and remembered it as reasonable and quiet, as it was behind the auto businesses, which closed, so the interstate was far enough away that the noise didn't reach the rooms, and mostly fields surrounded the areas not adjacent to the parking lots of the three connected auto businesses.