Thursday, January 3, 2019

Highs, Lows and Long Slogs

I know a number of writers personally and follow some more on social media.  Inevitably some of them will hit a low patch in their writing, so I was well aware (also because of having done this once before) that getting this book 'born' and into the world would resemble a roller coaster.  Life also conspired - as you know if you have been reading this blog for a while - to add a few twists and turns to the ride.

All writing is challenging.  Writing fiction is challenging in terms of coming up with the story line, then figuring out how to best tell the story.  Technical writing is challenging in terms of writing with clarity about techniques and processes in a way that aids understanding.  Or at least, that's the goal.

After years of writing magazine articles and class handouts (as well as essays in school) I was no stranger to what would be involved.  It was every bit of what I expected it to be, this journey, and more.  There were more highs, more lows and more long hard slogs.  The difference between this and Magic was the scope.  Magic was about one slice of the craft of creating a textile.  The writing part wasn't hugely difficult, rather it was the choosing of the projects to provide examples of how to do wet finishing and why it was so important to do it.  And then, of course, weaving the hundreds of yards of samples.

For Magic there were initially 20 projects, which grew to 22.  The initial warps for those samples started out at 40 yards, but some of the projects required more.  20 times 40 yards is 800 yards, plus the additional warps - so very nearly 1000 yards.  Warps were typically 40 to 48" in the reed.

But that wasn't all - then came the preparation of the samples.  Loom state samples were taped and cut apart.  Wet finished samples were wet finished, most of them including a hard press.  At the time I did not have the industrial steam press, so all of that pressing was done on a small flat bed press.  It took hours and hours.

Then those samples had to be cut to size and both loom state and wet finished samples stapled to their respective pages.  In the end, all the pages were assembled and put into custom 3 ring binders.

So most of the work of Magic was the labour of preparing the samples.

This book was different in that most of the work was in the writing.  Deciding what to include, how best to describe the techniques, what photos were required.  Of course there were some samples to be woven, but the bulk of the work was in the writing, editing, re-writing, more editing, more re-writing, back and forth with my beta readers.  (Truth to be told, some of them were truly alpha readers, a few hung on to be beta readers.)

There was so much text that it became overwhelming which is why I finally broke down and hired an editor.

In both cases I self-published.  Magic was done with the assistance of a local printer, his off-set press and graphic designer son.

20 years on and the technology has changed to such an extent that I needed the expert assistance of someone who could wrangle the new technology to the mat.  I just happened to find someone who also knew and understood the 'old' technology.  Not only that, but Ruth is also a spinner and weaver.

The majority of the books are being shipped outside of Canada.  I wrote out mailing labels earlier in the week, then did the customs forms, finishing those just now.  The books are very close to being ready, but I also have other things that need to be done.  Year end, for one.  Remitting sales taxes.  Balancing my ledger.

Work has also continued on the conference.  Announcements will be forthcoming very soon, as in a matter of hours.  This has also taken longer than we'd hoped, as these things are wont to do.  But our goal, right from the beginning, was to work our darndest to make it a good event for all participants - the instructors, vendors, volunteers, as well as the participants.  So we took extra time to make sure the information that will be posted to the registration website will be as accurate as we can make it.

As with so many Big Projects, it may appear that not much is happening, but there is plenty going on behind the scenes! 

Textile practitioners are well acquainted with the degree of preparation and labour that goes into creating their pieces. 

It's no different to write and publish a book.  Or craft a conference.

Buy the books at blurb
Check out the instructors and their workshop/seminar topics on the conference website - click on Schedule

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year Laura! I just ordered your book. Looking forward to becoming better at the craft. Wishing you all the best in the coming year!

Tom Z.