Publishing Limbo

As a writer you become accustomed to the concept of Limbo “a vague place of oblivion–an uncomfortably anxious period of waiting for things to happen. I’m in one of those limbos right now.

A book will be published this spring. The thing is written, most of the edits are done – well, not quite. You depend on other editors who rightfully have schedules and problems of their own. So part of the process is — in limbo.

The photos are bought and delivered. Well most of them. Right now, I have been waiting upwards of three weeks for a disc to be delivered from another country, and I’m about to walk out to the mailbox and curse the Canada Border Services Agency again. You see, the agency I ordered from is in a city that is roughly 2.5 hours away from me, and the Archives there assures me it was mailed. But there’s a border in between, and these days, customs agents are a surly and suspicious lot. I’m sure it’s sitting on a corner of a desk holding up a coffee cup. So there’s 10% of my illustrations. In limbo.

I market some of my books directly at public functions like Farmer’s Markets, Cowboy Poetry gatherings or public speaking events. Nothing sells a book like having the author there to sign it, and I enjoy that. But a new round of such sessions loom, and I’d like to have a new one on the table. But it’s not going to be ready. Here I am. Limbo.

I’d love to be posting to blogs and social media sites to promote this book, and throw out teasers. I’d much rather be telling you about the subject of my book than talking about Limbo. The stuff is there-I even have two Facebook pages set-up to mass promote the book-simple cut and paste will do the trick. But there is no sense at all in alerting people to a book that they cannot purchase right away. Do it now – they’ll just forget by the time it’s released.

Now I tend to be a lateral mover when I’m doing something. I like to buy the board, measure the board, cut it, nail it into place, paint it and walk away. Done. No completion anxiety, fix it, forget it, move on to the next plank.

With writing, you don’t really work like that, but there are processes that are similar. First you have the idea, the spark, the eureka moment where you say “Eureka! No body has ever done a book on that!” So you sit down with that concept. You assess what info you will need, and you hammer out an outline or a chronology. You check the shed, see what material you have, and if you don’t have it, you go to the hardware store–in my case, a library, archive, museum or source–and obtain the board and nails. You ask the authorities–your publisher–if they’ll like your board. Then you go to work.

That’s why I like writing. It’s construction. Making something out of something else. It’s adapting, overcoming, improvising, compromising and conquering–all at the same time. I just need to go back now and again and put on a new coat of varnish, change the color or hang a picture on the board.

But right now, the boards are all just kind of hanging there. Waiting for someone to ship me the screws or for the battery on the power drill to recharge.

Limbo. I guess in comparison to other realms such as Hell or Purgatory, Limbo might not be so bad. At least, by definition of the term, you do come out of Limbo.

Now and again.


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