As my first post to The Galaxy Express 2.0, I knew I could write about lots of things: SF romance, recent releases, and how I seem to be in a time crunch at the moment. Hmmm, that’s interesting. I think I’ll write about not being able to write! 🙂
What I like about self-publishing is the amount of control I have over everything. I pick the cover, the editors, the length and, when done and corrected (and sanity-edited one more time), send the manuscript off to my handy-dandy Tech Department for coding. I check the result a few times before signing off on it and it goes back to the Tech Department (now called “The Backend”; we multitask a lot) for distribution. Being an anally-retentive, Type A personality, I love that level of oversight.
What I don’t love, however, is how quickly self-publishing becomes a h-u-g-e time sink. There’s always something that needs tinkering, which is bad news for a compulsive tinkerer like me. A friend of mine once remarked that I never seem happier than when I’ve deliberately upgraded my system to something experimental and KDE (my favourite Linux desktop environment) doesn’t want to play ball. So that’s Problem #1, The Self-Publisher’s Can’t Leave Well Enough Alone Syndrome (TSPCLWEAS). Yes, that’s the medical term for it. You’re welcome.
Problem #2 is Sandal Press. When J and I founded Sandal Press back in 2011, it was an, ahem, somewhat hurried decision. We were all afire to get things up and running and, thinking back on it over the past couple of months, we’ve come to the conclusion that it could have been handled much better. For a start, we came up with the name “Sandal” from the Native American saying, “never criticise a man until you’ve walked a mile in his moccasins.” Unfortunately, a moccasin isn’t a sandal, and the icon of a walking jug didn’t help matters. So last month, we decided to phase out Sandal Press and phase in a new venture called Challis Tower. There are things we’re planning in the future that will make the name a little less head-scratchy but, after more thought than we gave it back in 2011, it’s now there. All Sandal Press books over the next year will be transferred across and will be known as Challis Tower books. And, in fact, that’s the new url: www.ChallisTowerBooks.com
Problem #3 is our son, The Wast. Four years ago, we made the decision to pull both kids from their (private) school and begin homeschooling them. This was due to problems of drug and pornography distribution on campus, and hypocrisy, inexperience and lack of discipline on the part of staff. And now it’s almost time for the rubber to hit the road. In six months, TW will be sitting for seven IGCSEs/O-levels. To my American readers, this is the qualification you need to enter pre-U. Seven IGCSEs isn’t onerous, but it’s a decent workload.
TW wants to do a degree in Computer Science, so we’re hitting the technical stuff pretty hard. And this will be an independent validation of the past four years. Did I do a good enough job? How will he cope with a series of exams in an unfamiliar environment? Did we make the right decision four years ago? In addition, Little Dinosaur is also working her way through Form 3, before she, too, has to tackle her upcoming IGCSEs. The difference is that TW is now learning in one year what will take LD two years of study. I think he’s up to it, but we’ll see. And I’ll worry until the results finally come through from the UK.
It therefore comes as no surprise that my writing has taken a beating. That’s not to say I don’t have stories to write! I have several synopses, chapter-by-chapter summaries, character sheets, diagrams, mindmaps, blurbs, cover art. All that’s missing is the time to plonk arse in chair and actually write!
As we face the end of the year, and I look—exhausted—at everything that still needs to be done, I hope you take some advice from a frenzied publisher/writer/teacher/mother/wife.
Remember everything you managed to achieve this year. If you spend a few minutes writing down your 2015 achievements (and I hope you do), I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how long the list is. See all that? You did that. Give yourself a big pat on the back, put your feet up, spoil yourself with a little something. And gather your energy, because, you know what? Next year is already waiting for you. 😉
Merry Christmas…look, while we’re on this subject, can I just go off on a tangent? The fact is, we even wish strangers a Merry Christmas in Muslim Malaysia. I’m not sure I know what the problem is regarding the current “political correctness” akin to banning Christmas in the United States/Europe for fear of “offending” anyone. I live in a country where I am surrounded by millions of Muslims and hundreds of thousands of others from a bewildering variety of faiths. Shopping malls get decorated for all the major religious festivals throughout the year and nobody faints from horror or brings down a fatwa on the mall management. So take it from me, nobody—least of all the Muslim population—gets offended if you exchange Christmas greetings with them ::eyeroll:: Personally, I think an awful lot of otherwise well-meaning people are being played here. Don’t fall for it.
So, as I was saying, MERRY CHRISTMAS! If I don’t catch you in SFRQs #9 Editorial, I’ll touch base early in January.