The Knife and Incompetence

I felt like I’d been under the surgeon’s knife while simultaneously serving as the surgical nurse without adequate training. I preferred feeling competent, in charge and in no need of deep surgery.

Big Topics at Midnight and I were separate, but I hadn’t yet been able to let her have the teen-aged freedom she’d prefer. The mother bear in me roared when she faced the knife.

Part of me knew that the reconstructive operation required to transform this richly formatted and illustrated book/baby into an ebook was an opportunity to offer it in a form that would delight many readers. Yet part of me wailed and fought every step of the way. I didn’t know how to participate in the process, and I hated feeling like an incompetent mother.

I couldn’t even figure out what questions to ask to get the full sweep of what I needed to change. Yes, I could include illustrations but they must be in-line (translated to mean without text wrapping around the photographs). Each drawing had to be a certain size (i.e. removed, “pixel” and “dpi” requirements followed, then reinserted in the text). I could have illustrations or photographs, but not too many (130 illustrations and over 50 photographs was WAY over the limit). I was free to use two different standard fonts (of course, mine weren’t standard, and it turned out using only one font was best). Not to mention issues with block quotes and…

Some of this angst felt familiar. Waking up to rules of the game that were different than I’d learned along the way. Letting go of how I believed a book “ought” to look. Struggling to find ease with the disorienting process of continually learning something new.

I thrashed. I complained. I tossed and turned in the night. But I learned, once again, to keep walking anyway. Finding people to help along the way. Trusting the guidance that came. Releasing regret that I didn’t know this or that earlier, that I could have saved time or money or frustration if only I’d known ____ sooner. Remembering that feeling incompetent wasn’t the end of the world.

Big Topics at Midnight, the book with wild diversity in art, words, layout and fonts is still available, untouched by the surgeon’s knife. Big Topics at Midnight, the ebook with wild technological options of adjusting font size and format while holding a library of books tucked in your backpack, will soon be available.

Waking up is not for the faint of heart, whether around the big topics or computer details or simply getting out of bed and walking into a day filled both with mystery and the known.

As the sun rises on this nearly completed ebook project, I remember—despite the knife and feeling like an idiot, it’s been an amazing journey. And Big Topics at Midnight can stand strong without my help.

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