The following is a fictional story and may or may not bear any resemblance to any self-published JAFF author, either living or dead. 🙂
7AM – Time to rise and shine! An author’s work is never done. Goals for today: Write at least 10,000 words on my newest P&P fanfic novel, The Heavenly Mr. Darcy and format my most recent novella, Lizzy Lassoes Her Man, for paperback. I’ll take a shower, eat breakfast, walk the dog, then settle down to serious work for the day.
8AM – 8:45AM – Surf the internet. Check reviews on books already released. Nothing new, but even old reviews are fun to read again. And again. And again.
8:55AM – Call from a friend who doesn’t appreciate that I am at work. WORKING! I politely hang up and get back on the computer.
9AM – So far I have managed to write just one sentence:
“Darcy stared longingly at Elizabeth as she crossed the floor of the Netherfield ball room.”
Wait, they just met! Shouldn’t he be glaring at her, not staring longingly? Or should he just observe her cautiously? Why not watch warily? Or stare disapprovingly?
“Darcy could not help observing Miss Eliza Bennet as she crossed the floor gracefully, though he did his best to do so unobserved, and noticed how the lines of her silk gown outlined her pleasing curves . . . . “
Uh-oh. “Observed” is in that sentence twice! What if I change it so that Darcy is watching Miss Eliza Bennet, instead of observing her? But watching sounds faintly creepy, like he’s stalking her or something. I can’t use that either.
“Darcy could not help occasionally glancing at Miss Eliza Bennet as she crossed the floor gracefully, doing his best to do so without being observed. He was forced to admit, against his will, that the lines of her silk gown outlined her pleasing curves . . . “
9:25AM– Wait. Darcy wouldn’t think of Elizabeth as “Eliza,” would he? And would Elizabeth really wear a silk gown to a ball? Those were expensive, and Elizabeth’s mother wastes money! But what does she waste it on? Maybe Elizabeth did have a silk gown.
9:30AM – Research cost of women’s dresses in Regency England.
10:15AM – Facebook notification! A fan wants to chat about The Heavenly Mr. Darcy. I need to work, but chatting with a fan is publicity, and publicity is work, right? I answer.
10:20AM – The fan is very complimentary, but they’re a little confused. They think this is a story called Heavenly Bodies, a Darcy/Elizabeth pairing in outer space. With aliens.
We end the conversation.
10:30AM- This is obviously not a good writing day. Forget writing for now. I’ll get my short story formatted for paperback, break for lunch at noon, and start writing again after that.
11:30AM—Excellent! Formatting this story was so easy! I even put in a title page, a dedication, and a table of contents. Now I just have to add the page numbers to the bottom of each page, starting with the first page of chapter one. That should be quick. Computers make everything so automated these days!
11:45AM – I have no idea how to start page numbers anywhere but on the first page of the document. Google: insert page numbers in Word.
12:15PM – OK, I’ve watched a couple of tutorials explaining how to start numbering pages after the first page and followed their directions carefully. So why do I still have “Page 1” at the bottom of my title page?
12:45PM – I can’t get rid of that “Page 1” on the title page without removing ALL page numbers.
12:48PM – Fine. I didn’t want page numbers anyway.
12:49PM – Except I can’t have a paperback book without a table of contents. And page numbers.
1PM- Where did those huge blank gaps at the bottom of some of my pages come from? Word is not allowing paragraphs to be split across pages! How do I fix that? I have to Google the problem and I don’t even know what to call it!!!!
1:15PM– I think I found the problem. What is widow/orphan control?
1:30PM—I’m still figuring out the finer points of widow/orphan control when my editor calls. She tells me that Elizabeth from the year 1810 could not have a “chartreuse” gown because the word chartreuse had not yet been coined. We spend fifteen minutes looking up synonyms for chartreuse.
Fine. White gowns were more common anyway. Elizabeth’s gown is now white. Back to formatting!
1:50PM–I re-format all 30,000 words so that paragraphs will flow across pages. The paragraphs look great, but the chapter headings have gone back to plain text. I re-do each separate heading again. I take another stab at the page numbers.
1:58PM–Those $!@&# page numbers!
2PM – I now have a document with page numbers that start one page before chapter one, and they only appear on even-numbered pages. And where did those horizontal lines come from?????? I didn’t ask for those!
2:15 – Whatever. I can live with only half the pages numbered. But I’d like to get rid of the horizontal lines.
2:20 – WHY CAN’T I CLICK ON THE HORIZONTAL LINES TO SELECT THEM AND ERASE??????
2:45 – Whatever. I didn’t want to do paperbacks anyway.
2:55—I’m trying one last time, and then I’m done. DONE!
3PM – Page numbers and horizontal lines are now gone 🙂 but so is all my formatting! :-[ Apply widow/orphan control again. Format chapter headings AGAIN.
3:14PM— My computer’s dying! I’m trying frantically try to save it, but it’s not working.
My work is gone. Gone!!!!! The story, the chapter headings, the page numbers–all gone!!!!!!
3:30PM—This day is shot. I have to take my laptop to get diagnosed, repaired, or possibly replaced. Being an author is SO not worth it! All this aggravation for almost nothing in return.
In my next life I’m going to be something easy and uncomplicated, like a bricklayer.
But then I check my phone and there’s an email from someone I don’t know:
Your story Mrs. Bennet Saves The Day is the best story I’ve ever read. I couldn’t put it down! I read it while I was sitting in the hospital, waiting for my mom to get out of open heart surgery, and it made me laugh. Thank you for helping me forget my problems for a few hours.
Your fan forever,
A Devoted Reader
Suddenly the stubborn page numbers, the chartreuse gown, and the broken computer don’t matter. None of it does.
If I have made one person happy, it was all worth it. I know tomorrow will find me right where I was today—loving every day in the life of a writer.