An interesting project has finally come up and started rolling.
As I think I’ve said before, I’m part of a writers’ group that meets at a local arts center every Sunday. It’s a nice group of people. We have fun, and once in a while I actually produce something worthwhile (“Last Man Standing”, published this past summer, was born in my writers’ group, as I think I have said).
The director of the arts center has been talking for at least a year now about trying to publish our work in a book. As it stands, we’ve already had ‘featured writers of the month’ in the newsletter the center puts out. The book idea has largely not gone anywhere–we are not publishers, by and large, and she’s too busy. So for the last year or so the talk would surface from time-to-time, but it wasn’t going anywhere. Until now.
Yesterday we sat down with a person who is a new employee of the center, a young lady who has a freshly-inked piece of sheepskin in the field of creative writing and publishing, and is in charge of making the book happen. She handed out a production schedule, we talked a bit about what needed to happen, and when it needed to happen by, we talked contracts and rights–and then I had to leave for a potluck dinner for the Catbird’s Cross Country team.
I have to say, I have mixed feelings about the venture.
On the one hand, it’s always nice to claim publication, isn’t it? This will not be a paid gig; I will not make any money off this, but that’s okay, even though I want people to pay for my writing. Also, this will be a self-published book. As of now, our Editor-in-Chief is looking at Lulu for printing. As all of us will be involved in the project, this is a great opportunity for me to learn about the process, should I ever choose to self-publish. It’s a low risk situation for me, submitting a few short pieces that likely wouldn’t see the light of day anywhere else, anyway. And, of course, it’s a way to show my support for what I think is a great organization.
But I am the doubting writer, so I have some doubts.
First, I am a notorious non-completionist when it comes to writers’ circle. Most of what I write in the circle are fragments, bits and pieces of things picked up from here and there. Some of them are fun, some of them could be good, but most of them are not. The things that really grab me, the ones that I come home excited about, and actually do more with, are things that I aim at publication. And it often takes me time to get there. “Last Man” was initially drafted in about a week. It then sat for over a year before I dusted it off and started playing with it again. Yesterday, I printed out five pieces that I thought were kind of fun, that I thought had potential for this book. Two of them were pieces I submitted here and there, the other three were things that I liked well enough, but never polished to a high shine. To get all of them ready, I’m going to need to spend more time with them, and time is in shorter supply than it had been.
Second, I do have to say I worry a bit about quality. There were eight of us around the table yesterday, most of whom have been in this group for at least a year, some for longer. The skill level varies greatly. I’m no Tolstoy, but I do consider myself one of the better writers in the group (Yes, I actually said that; can you believe it?). At the risk of sounding like a complete ass, I worry a bit about having my work surrounded by things that may not be as good, quite frankly. There’s a fear that someone may buy this book, read a story or two, and throw it against the wall–after putting all the contributors’ names down on a blacklist. There, I said that, too. Could this hurt me in the long run?
No. I suppose that’s my fear for the day, my doubting self coming up to the surface. This will be an interesting look at the book production process from the inside, and now that I’ve vented my fears, I can move forward.