Exactly one week before I write this, I was holed up in the State Library of Queensland desperately trying to turn about 3,500 words into something closer to 5,000. Now, I hate word-count bragging—to me it's the literary equivalent of dick swinging—but 5,000 of vaguely publishable words in a little over ten hours is something worth stopping to admire for a moment. Which I did.
Then I got on with the rest of the job. We had a book to publish after all and the clock was still ticking. Mine was one chapter among nine and we still had cover design, layers of editing, metadata, export and upload still go.
Life in a 24-Hour Book is extraordinary and inspiring, but it's pretty exhausting. Between me and the other writers, assisted by a stellar team of editors and volunteers, we went from nothing to a published book in twenty-four hours.
That still kind of blows me away. I have to keep checking. We did finish it, didn't we?
Now I'm the first to admit, we probably didn't create literature of the highest order, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't suck either. It certainly looks the part.
In the coming week, I'll be taking delivery of the first printed editions (we can print within 24 hours, but we still have to wait a bit getting the book from New York to Brisbane) and watching the title worm its way into shops both physical and digital. From there, it's onto new projects, ideas, and actually getting down that futuristic novel that's been rattling around in my head since late last year.
I'm writing more about the project from the if:book web site and maybe in other forums. But before I move on, I wanted to make sure I remembered a few things about making Willow Pattern. A few personal memories with no structure or order; just a few details I didn't want to forget in the rush for the next shiny thing.
- Nick calling into question the description of me as a 'digital experimenter'. I'm still embarrassed that, even with my background as a health professional, I hadn't noticed the double entendre.
- P.M. Newton happily declaring me completely mad.
- Krissy quietly rising from her seat, shuffling over to the idea wall and writing "cunt at last!" to much appreciation from the others.
- Our volunteer, Mandi rolling back a curtain in the room to reveal the place we would post up our ideas.
- Steven thanking me for creating the circumstances in which he realised how fast he could write something.
- Rjurik looking into my eyes at 11:00 pm and levelly telling me I looked like shit. Thanks.
- Apologising profusely to Angela for forcing her to write like a demon with a neck wrapped in heat packs.
- Shortly after deciding on the title, realising the words 'Willow Pattern' had been written on the wall from about 15 minutes into the project.
- Stopping at 9:00 pm so everyone could simply talk about their chapter. The planned 15-minute meeting actually lasted 45 minutes and was filled with amazement at the stories emerging and the vigorous trading of story details ("Can you move that to the fourth floor? I need the vase on the fourth floor.").
- Managing to keep the creeping panic at bay as the first PDF export comes back with a formatting problem.
- The flood of relief when Pressbooks' Hugh McGuire replied almost immediately to my frantic email.
- The completely unexpected emotion at watching the ebook files uploading to the web site. Never before had a progress bar inspired such passion.
- Being handed a glass of champagne and surrounded by the writers while still working on the files and emailing the printers in Brooklyn.
- Watching the first pics coming through.
- Seeing the book visiting Times Square.
- And of course there was that human pyramid, but I'm not likely to forget that in a hurry.