I thought about starting this email with a what are you reading at the moment? sort of chat, but I’m not reading anything at the moment – although I’m quite involved with a copy of Jeff Abbott’s 2008 thriller, Run. Occasionally I take it off a shelf and put it on my desk, or put it on a different shelf. I stare at it longingly, and I even took it for a weekend away last month.
But reading? Actually making the time to sit down and find that quiet headspace where I’m not rushing from one task to the next in order to maintain the head-above-water coping strategies I deployed during the pandemic? That’s something else.
Anyway, much like reading, I realise that I haven’t e-mailed you in a while, either.
So, how am I? I’m fine, I guess – not in the dismissive inauthentic way that we tell your friends and colleagues, but not in the “everything’s peachy” sense either.
I’m fine. Just fine. Acceptable. Je suis pas mal. I hope you’re pas mal too.
The good news is that I’ve been slowly finding myself more able to write and edit again, which means that I’ve been indulging in one of my favourite things: filling up sheets with different-coloured scribbles.
There’s two fairly hefty issues that I’ve noticed during the reactivation of the process.
Firstly, my titles are all wrong.
500 Days In The Quiet Room and All Better Now? are nice and evocative and would suffice if people actually knew who I was and what I’m trying to do, but the not-self-help-but-kinda-self-help genre is so crowded that grabbing the right attention with every tool available (including the title) really matters.
Prepare to be dazzled and amazed by this exclusive reveal of my current working titles (and subtitles!):
I Have Tried Everything Else: A 500 day [something?] of first-time anti-depressant use
I Thought You Were All Better Now?: [Collected?] writings on the [something?] of maintaining [the image of?] positive mental health
I still don’t love either of them, as you can [probably?] tell. With All Better Now? I’ve added more dressing, but honestly I think that the real final title will reveal itself when all those “writings” are properly collected – although is it still a collection if they’re all coming from me?
I’ve pulled 500 Days… back to the original name of the blog that preceded it, and tried to capture not just the agenda of the book, but the place I was in when that journey started. “500 Days In The Quiet Room” is a nice word-concept, and it features throughout the book, but it’s a meaningless riddle to potential readers, something to put them off rather than intrigue them.
The second issue I’m having is… footnotes.
Half the point of I Have Tried Everything Else: 500 Days… was the little footnotes throughout, which not only explain obscure cultural references, but provide a sort of then-and-now dialogue of voices, excusing or condemning my past behaviour and resolutions.
That’s all good if I’m just publishing in paperback and can set those footnotes at the bottom of every page, nicely formatted and relevant to the words above, but pretty much every e-reader on the market likes to stick footnotes all the way at the back of the book.
There are other solutions of course [like what?], like an interspersing a voice [like this?] in the text [oh I see!], but that lacks the distinctness of two timeframes, and is a little more intrusive than I’d like [oh, sorry].
I’ve also considered writing with two distinct voices in two distinct styles on the page itself, but this also has issues.
[The main issue I am referring to above is that the flexibility of font size on e-readers can mean going for many pages whilst still in commentary, after which the reader may forget the initial issue being commented on.]
As with my titles, I haven’t come to a solution I’m totally happy with yet, and just as with my titles, I think it will present itself as the work continues.
Anyway, that’s me for now. I’m not going to make a presumption about when the next e-mail I send will be, although something about this one has bitten me a little, so it might be sooner than either of us think.
As always, I genuinely hope you are well.
P.S Remember that as a member of this community, only you will get the opportunity to pick up I Have Tried Everything Else at a scarily low introductory price, and after launch only you will get a digital copy of the companion collection I Thought You Were All Better Now for absolutely free!