When traveling, I often feel some anxiety before the flight. There’s packing, being on time for the car service, arriving at the airport with enough time to check in and go through security to be on time for the flight (and early enough to get bin space!). So many things must be done to make this happen within the required time. I find that I often take a deep breath (of relief) when I’m in my seat. I’ve made it on the flight, turned off my phone, and there’s nothing that can be done about anything for a while. I’m literally and figuratively locked in.
The creative process of getting my book print-ready has been much like this. I started with text and a vision of the experience one would have with the book. Unlike a traditional cover-to-cover read, I felt the book should be colorful, accessible, interesting, thought-provoking, and cool. I wanted the experience of reading the book to feel effortless. And I wanted it to be inspiring and beautiful. Easy, right? :) The reality is that the process became a series of things to complete (within a reasonable amount of time) to make this possible.
Though I had the text completed, I was clear that I needed help with making this full-color vision a reality. I have been absolutely blessed to work with the most amazing and talented group of graphic designers who have brought my vision to life. And I am so thankful that they patiently put up with me throughout the process haha Because I lacked the technical skill to make changes to the InDesign file, I had to depend on my designers to make even the smallest adjustments. As a result, I felt as though I always had one more thing for them to change. Somewhere along the way, a missing space in a sentence felt like the end of the world. I struggled with the process of asking for changes. I did not want to drive them crazy in my quest for perfection. Yet, I wanted to achieve my vision for the book. I think both outcomes were probably achieved haha
This experience made me consider what a child must struggle with as it is learning to communicate. Lacking the ability to take care of itself, the baby has only the ability to cry as a signal for help. A parent must then go through a process of elimination to determine why the baby is crying. There are a series of things they try to get it right.
My vision for the book was broad. But as I moved forward, I had to try many different versions for each part of the book to try to get it right. I had to get a lot more specific about everything. We cycled through about ten variations of the cover and countless formatting changes within the book to get sizes and fonts to feel right. The designers made some genius additions I hadn’t considered that gave the book new life. I learned so many things along the way, and we had to adjust the design to include these new elements…like having odd page numbers on the right side (something I never really noticed about books before!) and creating a Copyright page from scratch. My printing strategy changed, and that required more adjustments with trim and spacing to change from a digital printer to a traditional press. There were decisions about paper color, paper weight, cover, binding, and dust jacket that had to be made. And more work to create a dust jacket when I decided the book should have one.
The book took on a life of its own. There was always something else to consider. Yet, I also did not want to get trapped in the design phase forever. We were in quicksand, and I knew that I had to make clear decisions to get us out. There had to be an end point and an acceptable level of perfection, otherwise the project would never end.
Yesterday, I think we made it out of the quicksand. We submitted the final design files to the printer (with one emergency change haha), and now I feel like I’m on the airplane…taking a deep breath after fastening my seat belt. I’m filled with gratitude for my designers for sticking with me through the process and staying committed to creating a quality product that will hopefully help to inspire others.
The creative process is a whirlwind. It can be frustrating and it can create a lot of anxiety if you let it. While I freely admit to moments of panic, I’m thankful for the sugar and deep breaths that made me calm down haha And I know that I could not have made it without patient designers who continued to fix one more thing with great kindness :)
We’re one (HUGE!) step closer to getting the book done. And I’m so excited to get the proofs and samples from the printer in Hong Kong this week! After confirming the materials and binding, the printing will happen and we will be fully locked in to the final product. I am certain that I will be writing a future post to praise the wonderful printers who have already been so patient, responsive, and kind throughout this process! I am so fortunate to be surrounded by wonderful people who are committed to helping me achieve this vision. That is the greatest gift. And I will be forever thankful.
This post is dedicated to Stacy, Michelle, and Dillon. My heart bursts with gratitude for all of your wonderful work, dedication, and patience on my project! I am not sure how you all continued to churn through my endless bullet-point lists hahaha, but I will never forget your kindness and follow-through on each point. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you! :)
Photo source: Unsaturated Grain by Lloyd Walker