My book started with a different topic entirely. I wanted to write about the process of making a merger happen without the people involved getting beaten up. That is what I am doing in my day job and I am trying to live this idea. I am making notes and trying to specifically capture the emotional impact of major change on the individual and collective psyche. A huge project, and definitely one for another day.
In the meantime, and as I already mentioned I wanted a project to focus on in my down time – specifically to protect myself from burn out at this specific moment. I use creative activities like sewing and knitting, but also blogging and writing, as a way of doing something that is challenging but rewarding. I used SWAP for this two or three years in a row. That challenge – of creating a small collection of 11 items – consumed and sustained me brilliantly. But I don’t feel I can do it again. I don’t really want that many more clothes and I feel I have nailed SWAP as well as I ever will. I shall be following along though, on Artisans Square, as it is a fascinating process. For me creative, somewhat solitary work is a very good antidote from trying to look after 3000 people while we create what I hope will be the best housing association in the UK.
So once I had decided I wanted to write a book that covers some of the same material as I have been presenting in the blog for the past few years I had one of those “epiphany” moments. If I write this book alongside the most difficult project I have ever done in my work life the two tasks will be mutually supportive. That’s the idea anyway. I could fail on both counts!!
However here I go. I am writing a book in public! I will share the process – the content is broadly already known to you – and see what happens.
The first thing I did, and this is what led me to drop the merger book project and start on the Fabrickated book project, was sign up to a ten-day business book challenge. This is completely free and takes you through the process of creating a proposal for a publisher based on your “business” (a bit of an issue for me as I don’t have or want a business. I have no time and no inclination to run a business; my work is my business). But as I was writing a business book I joined in.
It was brilliant. Let me give you the details if it might be of interest to you. Alison Jones will help you think through the whole process of writing a book to support and boost your business, but there is much in there that is generally about book writing. The focus helped me work out that I didn’t want to write or publish a business book – at least not now. But I did want to create a book, make a book, and this is now what I am dedicating my weekends (and Christmas break) to.
My book doesn’t yet have a name, or a one word summary, or a cover. It is not going to be a commercial proposition, and it is not going to be traipsed around publishers. I actually want to do all the processes myself (with help from friends and family) as a creative process. Apart from writing and rewriting the book, I want to learn all the processes involved. I will write the patterns. I will style the models. I will take the photographs and design the inside of the book (pagination, layout etc). I will do the diagrams. I will also have to do the marketing and distribution myself! I will have to pay for some of the editing, design, the printing and I will attempt to recoup this outlay by charging for the book. My gamble is that if I do a really nice job, making a colourful, interesting and useful book, then some of you might buy it.
Now there are a few blog-to-book publishing successes, but most blogs don’t necessarily translate well to the book form. It is a very different proposition. A few dozen people have told me they have read this blog from start to finish (a mammoth task – 850 posts), which I found astonishing. Even I haven’t done that – I treat the blog more like journalism – once written it’s over. I even find it a bit hard to make the time to respond to all the marvellous comments once I have moved on to the next article (sorry!). So my gamble, my hunch, is that if I can take the best bits, and polish them, and find an overarching theme and thread, and provide better patterns, and glorious photographs, then I might have something useful and nice and more professional that my friends and their friends might wish to acquire for themselves or buy for someone else.
I am asking myself what have I got to lose? Some money if I don’t cover my printing costs. The time isn’t wasted – I need a juicy project and I am finding this one amazing, so far. I believe the process will help me think more deeply about what I am doing with my life, and I will learn more about the world of books and writing and stories and communication. Doing it with you (if you are willing to join in) will be an enriching and interesting process and it will make the book more of a collaboration or act of co-creation. At the end if you are willing to part with £10 or £15 quid to get one that would be a bonus.
So – here I go – off on another adventure.