Friday, July 20, 2007

Beans: A History



Recently arrived on my desk is this lovely little thing. Time to crack open some bubbly. There are actually two different covers, this one for Europe and a noisier one with jars of beans on it for the US. Go figure. The latter fits the content better, but I have to say I've grown rather fond of this one.

The gestation of books is actually a really odd process. You turn it over complete and then it mysteriously reappears in the mail, in this case quite quickly only 6 or 7 months later. Sometimes its a year or more.

Having worked as a production editor one fateful year between degrees (and I ruined a lot of books for Garland Publishing too) I know exactly what's involved, but it still seems so mysterious when it suddenly shows up. Somehow you think - did I actually write this? Maybe the mind blocks it out, like childbirth. Ok, the metaphor is inept - as any woman who has given birth will remind me, but I do think of these like children. You just dont get to see them for a long time after you finish writing, proofing, indexing intensely. It disappears for a long time and then a stork drops it in your mailbox. As if a surrogate had given birth to your baby.

Enough. This is on amazon if anyone's interested. Being shipped across the Atlantic now I'm told and will be here in September. Another perplexing thing about publishing. But it's quite cheap and I think a fun read. Let me know what you think.

4 comments:

Simona said...

Congratulations! I like that cover too: minimalist and elegant. I am currently trying to grow green beans for the first time in my life: I love them.

Gary said...

Ditto on the congratulations, Ken.

As someone who has recently had a book published -- in this case, after a twelve-year gestation period -- I can agree that the sensation of holding the printed result is an odd one.

For one thing, whatever passion initiated the project has long since been replaced by exhaustion, frustration, and -- let's face it -- other passions.

One of the reasons I began writing was that I had begun to notice that my memory was no longer infallible. I imagined that writing things down might be more lasting. Little did I know that writing forces one to cram in information at an even greater rate -- which means that the process of forgetting is accelerated in proportion. Consequently, by the time the book comes out, much of its contents seem to have been written by a complete stranger.

You probably don't feel that way. Certainly, you're much younger and not as likely to be forgetful. Also, you write much more quickly, so your new book no doubt seems more familiar to you than my new book does to me.

Nonetheless, holding a new book for the first time is a bit like watching one's child graduate -- one feels entitled to take all the credit for the child's success, while secretly suspecting that the whole thing could have come off just as well all by itself.

Gary

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