Cooking up a book

I was feeling sluggish and reclusive. So, I locked myself in the house, figuratively of course, and buried myself in a project that I had been procrastinating. The idea for the Barton Family Cookbook was born around Christmas 2007. I spent time on and off for the next two years putting it together. But I really have barely touched it over the past two years, as we were on hold looking for a printer and I didn’t know what exact size it would need to be. I finally decided on pod so people can buy as few or as many copies as they want, have it shipped directly to them and nobody has to collect money. With that information, I was able to move forward.

So, that fateful Friday in July, I decided enough was enough. I have the time, it’s too hot to be outside and I am not in the mood to do anything else anyway, let’s get it finished.

Having made a mess of things enough already, and now knowing how we wanted it look, I decided to start with a clean slate. I reset my stylesheet, set up the pages just how I wanted and reflowed the text. I redesigned the interior headers and created an entirely new cover design. I indexed the recipes and contributors. And I proofread and doublechecked the tabs and alignment so it was nice and neat. Then, I did that again. And again. Then I ran the index a final time and set the fonts and spacing. Finally, I added grandma’s quotes and a few favorite verses to the pages with white space at the bottom. I even created a tulip to denote her recipes. After several days and many hours, I was nearly done. Before I did a final proof, I sat down on on Wednesday night to email the pdf to a couple of my husband’s aunts who were managing the project for their thoughts. And the unimaginable (well, okay, not really) happened.

I got an error.

The file is not opening. I can see it right there. The extension is correct and everything was fine when I last had it open. The thumbnail even appears normal. But no file. I tried everything I could think of (which, admittedly, is not much). But without a backup, I really was without any options. Except to start all over again.

I was one of the lucky few that had power that week. A massive storm hit suddenly and powerfully on Monday morning. Several people in the area were without power for days. I was feeling very fortunate that I didn’t have to try to survive without electricity and/or hot water. Life went on pretty much as normal. Except that I was whittling away at this project, finalizing all the details and working and reworking it, over and over again. After the file failure, all I could think was WHAT A WASTE. What a waste of my time and my energy. I could have been playing with my kids or helping a neighbor or cleaning or something. Anything. I would have been better off had I lost power for a few days, so I wouldn’t have wasted my time.

I know there is a lesson for me in this. I just can’t quite figure it out yet. lol

After waiting a few weeks for the anger against all things computer to subside, I started over once again. Maybe it’s better in the end, maybe it’s not. I added a paper written about grandma by a neighbor of hers, I think that was the only major addition on the revision. I did work on the book in pieces instead of trying to do it all at once, so maybe that was my lesson: moderation.

But it’s done and it’s really exciting! In the end, not a waste at all. To see a four-year project come to completion and finally hold the product in my hands is just a wonderful feeling. I hope grandma is pleased.

You can check it out on lulu:


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