35 Days to 35: Beginning the Journey

It was a terrible day to begin work. I was numb with sleepiness. Literally, mind-numbingly numb. I thought I had gotten plenty of sleep the night before. I’m not one for napping, but my body was begging me to put it down. My maroon and cream Sherpa comforter and cream colored flannel sheets were like a siren on the rocks, calling to me, luring me to their cloud-like comfort. “It’s chilly in the house and the bed is a warm, soft, haven of happiness,” they cooed. “Just close your eyes for a minute. You won’t sleep long.”

Instead, I marched myself out of the bedroom and into my office, put Pandora on the “Mumford and Sons” station, selected five novels to use as a guide, fixed a giant cup of caffeinated Vanilla Caramel hot tea (with NO sweetener, lest I be lulled into a sugar coma) and spread out my printed manuscript.

The novels I chose were the novelization of a film and a fiction manuscript from our previous publisher, my mother’s self published novel, “One Life,” the book I’m currently reading, “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed, and my mascot novel, “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett.

I pulled up the file for the book on my computer, noting ruefully that it had last been edited on July 7, 2014. I consulted each book by opening it to the very first page. I had assumed the title page would be the first thing I’d see. Actually, it universally seemed to be the page consisting of reviews and snippets of praise for the book. No problem! We already had that, only ours was called ‘Endorsements.’ I carefully copied and pasted the endorsements we had gathered and put them ahead of the table of contents I had already listed in the book. First step, done!

I leaned back and sipped my tea while I researched what should come next. Some books had a page about the author, while others had the title page next, and still others listed other books by the same author.

I was stuck. I held the hot liquid in my mouth for a moment as I flipped through the books again. Should I follow the layout of the mainstream books? The ones from my previous publisher? What we had done before for my Mom’s book? Who was right?

I thought a second and then realized. They all were right. I could put whichever one I wanted. This was our book. These other novels were only a guide. This was one of the beauties of self-publishing. I paged through them once again and decided what I felt was the best layout in this particular case, using them as a guide-book, not a rule-book. I continued to copy and paste from the materials we had gathered last summer, adjusting where necessary, and feeling eternally grateful at least that part of the leg work had already been done.

When I came to the section that should be the title page, I had a bit of fun. I chose two separate fonts, a serious one, and one that looks like handwriting. When we had designed Mom’s book, I came up with a logo for our ‘publishing’ company. Named for my companion website I created last year (but don’t post to nearly enough) Those Clever Girls was created as an outlet for female writing and projects. CG Publishing seemed like a natural enough extension of that.

That process complete, I went through the book and made some minor proofing changes that we had spotted on the captions of some of the photos.

It was just at three hours later when I leaned back and decided I had come to a stopping point. One of the things I need to remind myself is that I don’t have to push myself to finish today. There is plenty of time. Well, not plenty, but time nonetheless.

You can’t complete a journey in a day, especially if you want to get anywhere significant!


Right at 35 days before my 35th birthday, Rachael and I found out that a book we wrote about our experience making our first film “No Lost Cause,” was being returned to us by the publisher after a year of waiting for it to be printed. Instead of wallowing in our collective misery, I committed to blogging every day while I searched for ways to overcome this perceived rejection and obstacle to our goal. I currently also have about three other projects brewing at the same time, and write about the progress of each of them. This is part of that series.

Read the first entry here: https://ashleyraymerbrown.com/2015/01/23/35-days-to-35-dealing-with-rejection/

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