Instructor Of Dead Publishing Languages

Some of my regular readers expressed a concern about my mental state after yesterday's depressing post about publishing exhaustion, so I thought I'd take today to write about my healthy perspective on the business. I'm reminded of an old Doonesbury cartoon (so old that I'll have to paraphrase from memory) in which a university instructor, angry over his treatment, threatens to quit and take a post in private industry. "You teach Latin," his colleague reminds him, "I'm not sure there's much demand for instructors of dead languages in industry these days."

Sure, Sunday was rough. I spent a good 11 or 12 hours sitting in front of the computer screen, cutting and pasting away to fix problems that never should have appeared. But let's compare with Monday. Monday I worked construction, the only activity that's taken more of my hours than publishing the past six or seven years. It was six degrees (Fahrenheit, my metric friends) when I left in the morning and sixteen degrees when I got home at night. The sixteen felt positively balmy. The job was in the hills where it's colder, and although we were working "inside" some of the day, the windows aren't in yet, so the house was a wind tunnel. I probably tweaked my back again picking up a jointer/planer and putting it in the tractor bucket. One of the joys of never learning to operate heavy equipment is permanent laborer status:-)

Back to publishing. I did have to unload a truck full of 55 lb. boxes of hardcovers once and distribute them between the attic and the second floor, but I was in pretty good shape at the time. I got in shape moving around slabs of oak weighing as much as ten times that, thanks to a multi-year foray into chainsaw-mill sawyering. And there is that right shoulder injury from three months of photo cropping on an old 486 that changed me into a left-handed computer user, but it doesn't quite compare with the time a log same off a hydraulic splitter and hit me in in the, I don't even want to remember.

Publishing has its ups and downs, but roofing a 14 pitch timber frame last year instilled in me a fear of the all the way downs!

That's my boot, I'm taking the picture.

Unlike our disappointed Latin professor, I suppose I could go back to writing for a large trade publisher if I gave up on self publishing, since going to work for somebody else as a self publisher would be a contradiction in terms. As I've written many times, I've never been attracted to the idea of selling my time consulting. I'm not thick skinned enough to send people a bill for advice without regard to whether or not it works. I'm afraid it would be a little too much like working as a diet coach. You can tell people how to lose weight, but you can't not eat for them.

I guess I'll just have to adopt Steve Martin's attitude, which beats the heck out of being the guy in the Fool's song "fixing the hole where the meteor hit the barn." At the end of a comedy routine, Martin would pick up his banjo, pluck out a tune and sing, "The most amazing thing of all, I get paid for doing.....this."

No comments: