Someone on facebook was posting a comment about writers to the effect that if you couldn’t spell or punctuate, how could you possibly write.
Now I’m a big time dyslexic. I grew up in a time and space where people just said your writing and spelling skills were lazy. No one wanted to fight my school teacher mother over it, so we all ignored the fact that I couldn’t spell or write. I was in grad school learning about dyslexia when I realized I had it too.
Not that it’s stopped me. I’ve come to see dyslexia as a fine and lovely gift. Mostly it’s the ability to see the world differently. What often causes dyslexia is a difference in which hand, eye and foot you lead with. Most people either lead left or right. If you lead with mixed sides, it changes your perception massively. It does wreak havoc on spelling, and math skills. I can’t read a map to save myself. And I need help putting things in order.
But it does give me a different perception of the world I chemyrish. I still believe I can tell a fine story. I’m just really grateful the lady who believes in spelling and punctuation wasn’t there to stop me with what I can only describe as the limits of her imagination.
Blissfully I am blessed with kind and talented friends. Chuck Ott and Donna Hinman and other people from W.H.I.R.L.Y , a Chicago writing group who regularly go through and find my punctuation malfunctions and spelling disasters. I hope I give as much I get. They know I can’t. They believe in me anyway.
My point is, we’re only defined by what we can’t do to a certain point. If we can do part of the job well enough, then we can ask for help and offer others what we can do. There’s a lot of hats to be worn in the writing and publishing of books. No one has a head where all of them fit.
I’ve done two books through a publishing house. Thread Magic and Thread Magic Garden were all mine in terms of text and images. But the editing staff were like the fairies who clean the houses of the rich and famous. You didn’t see them. They cleaned up all the messes before you knew they were there. You also got on average a dollar per book. You also had to convince them to publish your book, and you had to write the book they wanted you to publish. Everything is a negotiation, after all.
My husband, Don Bowers, simply just lets me do his covers. He’s happier, I’m happier. Otherwise, he tends to put our pet’s on the cover of the books, whether it’s about them or not. He tells me when my stories aren’t in order (again, another needful thing).
This week I ended up helping someone with a book cover. He’s a great writer, and he’s prolific. He’s also color blind. He had a novel about Nazis with a cover that had a rose pink gradient. He now has a gradient on the front that’s a nicely Nazi red, no bones about it.
So I have several things to say about the many hats a publisher wears, and the ones that fit very badly.
- Wear the ones that fit. Hire, beg or trade for help when you need it.
- Don’t let the thing you can’t do stop you from the things you are great at.
- Ask for help and offer help. Regularly.
- Don’t worry about perfect. Do your best and learn to do better. Perfect happens somewhere else.
- Breathe. You’re doing it.
Perhaps in the world of self publishing, we’re best to find a conglomerate of talent we share and utilize to maximize what we have, to handle the tasks we really don’t have the skills for. Will we see a day when everyone tells the stories they need to tell? I hope so.
You’ll find Chuck Ott’s latest work, Something Made of Vacuum on Amazon, in print and for Kindle.
You’ll find Don Bowers work, With Patience Wait, and Conformed to the Image, also on Amazon