Coming in 2019

In a previous update or two, and on Instagram, i’ve been hinting at a couple projects in the works. One is a newly-typeset edition of George MacDonald’s The Princess and the Goblin, a unique item created for a North Wind Manor fundraiser. The other is not. 😉

The other is Weem Adrift’s upcoming fall release, which i’ll be announcing shortly and which is in the final stages of typesetting and proof-binding. It’s been in the works since November, and in my upper head for far longer than that. It’s teaching me how to edit, how to work with proofreaders and illustrators, how to hold a project close to my brain for a year, and to set and miss deadlines, and to see the work through.

Next week i’ll be finalizing case design and contacting potential advance readers. This summer will see some revamps around the website and a whole lot of bookbinding. The official reveal is coming soon. But for now, here are a few behind-the-scenes glimpses at the process so far. 🙂 (More can be found on Instagram at #weemadriftpublishing.)

Typesetting and trust

A week and a half ago, on Easter Sunday, i completed my first full attempt at typesetting. The manuscript is now in the hands of proofreaders.

This project was meant to be a three-chapter practice exercise, but a friend of the Rabbit Room suggested an auction. It occurred to me that some people may be interested in a newly-typeset, hand-bound edition of The Princess and the Goblin, and if i was going to auction it, i may as well do the whole thing. This seems reasonable, and entirely in keeping with what one might expect from someone who calls Pete Peterson her Patronus, but of course it has cost more in both time and brain cells than i ever anticipated.

But done it is, and now i wait. Forsooth, it was something new to be asked “how do you want me to track comments?” and “what’s the timeline?” and to be met immediately with one typo and an exclamation: “i LOVE THE FONT!” What a joy and relief such comments were, and how glad i am to anticipate more of them! Because here is a truth: Creativity is not meant to be carried out alone. We need the eyes and minds and hearts of others. i have spent weeks staring at this document, making near-imperceptible adjustments, and can no longer see what i would as a proofreader for another publisher’s work. And here, here is another truth: We do better work when we submit to each other.

Now while those proofers are busy finding all the perceptible weirdnesses introduced by my imperceptible adjustments, i move on to other publishing tasks: Reviewing another manuscript. Arranging with artists for work they will contribute. Calculating how much paper i will need. Managing quarterly finances. Preparing book cloth. And while the work of bookbinding can be solitary, very little of the work of publishing is done in isolation. Much of it requires trust. It requires honesty, first with myself. In a dozen ways or more, i am still learning these things. i do not know how everything will come together.

In my mentoring this semester, trust has been the major theme. One aspect of this theme is learning to trust myself. And yet the paradox in this is that trusting myself is not the same as relying on myself. Leaning into my own experience is not counter to, but in fact requires, leaning into my own inexperience. Our strengths are often our weaknesses, and i must continue to ask myself whether i am acting in love or in fear. And yet my weaknesses, if i allow them, may be my strengths.

The night i finished that dratted typesetting project, i nearly gave up. i hit two snags in a row and did not know what to do, so i walked away. And then came a quiet voice in my spirit.

“Do you want to be perfect, or do you want to be beautiful?”

i do want to be perfect. i am happy to rail against German text critics who can’t see the poetry for the pattern, but for all that i am one of them. Can this also be a gift i bring to my work, to the author i serve, to our readers? I went back downstairs and let that voice lead me to a new way of seeing the snag that had snagged me. Within an hour the manuscript was done.

“Do you want to be perfect, or do you want to be beautiful?” i’ve got two manuscripts in play now, one with proofreaders and another awaiting a response to my editing. i’m new at all of this. And if i want to be perfect, i will be afraid—afraid to know how many typos i’ve left in, afraid to expose my inexperience, afraid to learn new skills or a new way of being. But if i want to be beautiful, i must instead embrace that inexperience and hold it up to the light. The light is also beautiful. And it is better, better by far to walk in love than in fear.

Publishing, like everything else, is just love-lessons.

Halfway

Tomorrow morning i go back to classes after a much-needed (and still too full) spring break. That means i am halfway through the semester. i am also perhaps halfway through a typesetting project which i hoped would be finished by now (every solution brings with it a new challenge; the final result will be magnificent, but i did not know books could require so much math). My girl and i are halfway through our first full school year together. i split my time between worrying about this year and worrying about high school. “Let Your steadfast love, O L-rd, be upon us, even as we hope in You.”

A little bit of catch-up before the downward slope of this school year begins:

That North Wind Manor fundraiser i announced in my last post, way back in December, was a far greater success than i imagined. i thought i would be happy to make as many as twenty little clothbound journals, but in the end it was more than twice that. Thirty-six were for donors; the remainder went to the Rabbit Room board as gifts for their annual retreat. My author texted me later to say he’d picked the Batman one. i knew he would. 🙂 (It occurs to me that when i say “my author,” i should clarify that i mean the one i work for, not the one i publish, and the fact that this needs clarification is still a little unreal.)

In my own schooling right now, i am studying Greek, which is finally coming together, and supposedly working on my own (English) fiction-writing. One of those two is getting more attention than the other, but if i’m to pass this semester’s mentoring i need to get writing. i committed to eight whole hours—that’s not even a lot, and that such a small goal is proving difficult is disheartening—and to revising my work with the help of others. The goal is trust. i am dragging my feet.

In Julie’s schooling, we’ve been reading some great novels and working on all the language arts stuff—Greek and Latin roots, English grammar, and basic composition. Our current book is Treasure Island. Neither of us have read it before, and i’m enjoying it.

Meanwhile, there’s so much that’s been happening with Weem Adrift that it’s daunting to begin talking about it. This January i filed for sole proprietorship and trademark, and that typesetting project is a steep learning curve on the way to my next release. i’m not yet ready to announce the title, but i’m both grateful and overwhelmed by all the opportunities this process gives me to learn—not only small business paperwork and typesetting, but so many aspects of production i skipped with the last two books. This is also an aspect of my trust plan this semester—trusting that i’ve got this, that i have the capacity to grow into this excellent work and to do excellence, that G-d is pleased with me and keeping a hold on me as i do things i’ve never done before, that i cannot fail with so many encouragers alongside me. At the end of this long process a new book will be alive in the world. Every time i do this it gets deeper and realer. Every time i’m more grateful for the grace i’ve been given.

i’m not quite ready for this week to end. Next week will, again, be too full. But i’m getting there.

Let Your steadfast love, O L-rd, be upon us, even as we hope in You.

Christmas at Weem Adrift

As of yesterday, all outstanding Weem Adrift Publishing orders have gone out and all are expected to arrive by Christmas. This makes me happy.

i love that so many of you placed orders. i love that i got to bind you books with my very own hands and then send them out into the world. i love that you will be able to hold in your hands the poems and robiderance which mean so much to me. i love knowing that some of you bought copies as gifts and soon not only you but people you love will get to unwrap them. i am still a little in awe at the idea that i get to publish A.S. Peterson. i get to hand-bind and sell my two favorite works by my favorite writer. Crazy.

My husband and i are taking a couple of weeks off to celebrate Christmas with family. There are a couple of paperback Jubilations in stock, and i’ll be binding more of everything after the New Year, but all orders placed between now and then will go out in January.

Thanks, everyone. 🙂 Merry Christmas.

Hideously gnawed.

Jubilations released ten days ago. Preorders opened six and a half weeks ago. i started binding in advance—hardcovers, especially when the paper has to be hand-cut, take awhile—but i hit a production hitch right after release and everything ground to a halt. Now, instead of having everything shipped by the end of last week, i’m back to the drawing board, trying to figure out why my bindings are so tight and how i can recover all the work i’ve already done and fill the orders that are still waiting (almost half of them!). For a week or so i’ve been going to bed and waking up worried. People need their books. And it’s finals week—i’ve got homework hanging over me, too. But the good news is i think i’ve finally hit on what’s going wrong.

i hand-stitch all my books, hardcover and paperback, rather than relying on glue alone, but i learned early on that you can’t skip gluing them also. Sewing is what keeps the pages from coming out, and gluing is what keeps the signatures tight. So after they’re sewn, they’re clamped together and i apply glue over that stitched side and squish it into the gap between the signatures. Well. This works really well to insure that there are no gaps between signatures, but when i lay the text block down on the table and open the first page, the little line of glue that invariably ends up along that bound edge keeps the page from lying flat. Instead it has a curve to it. It’s a little pleasing curve, nice to look at. And that curve pulls on the book boards.

The solution to this seems to be that instead of positioning the back of the text block so that it’s aligned with the back edge of the cover board, i need to scoot it back a bit into the hollow spine so that the natural curve of the first page doesn’t pull. i’m reinforcing the spine as i go also, just for a bit of added stability. But i’m pretty sure that this slight repositioning means i can finally get back to binding and shipping.

Meanwhile, what happens to those copies that didn’t go together right? They took a lot of time to make. The cotton rag i’m using isn’t cheap. And the poetry is still exquisite. It’d be a waste to discard them. So i’m taking a page from Thaddeus Glapp, fixing the bindings, and then offering them on a discount as Hideously Gnawed.

Fixing them means cutting them apart, so Hideously Gnawed copies may have doubled endpapers where i sliced out the text block and pasted it back in, or if i had to cut the cover i’ll reassemble it with an extra strip of watercolor paper wrapped around the spine. They might have needed some hinge repair, in which case an extra strip of text paper will be pasted in. They’ll still be perfectly readable and they’ll still have their little hand-torn, walnut-inked J on the front. But you’ll be able to pick up a Hideously Gnawed hardcover for what is essentially cost—materials plus the author’s cut plus about a dollar. i might, as we go along, add Hideously Gnawed paperbacks, too, if a copy’s cover paper wrinkles (as is its wont; i must watch it and weight it carefully).

Right now i’ve got to go write an essay for my Gospels & Acts class, and tomorrow morning i’ll get back to binding. If you’re one of the preorder customers whose books haven’t yet arriven, thanks for your patience. And if you don’t mind a bit of friendly gnawing, a copy in need of a home is waiting for you. 🙂