The Weekly Man: One Got Through (so far)

CoffeeNovel

I’ve been planning and preparing for my serialization of The Weekly Man for months. It’s pretty much how I spent most of my summer. It wasn’t easy. I had to set up a blog at WordPress to post the episodes. I was horrified when I saw the first test posts on my phone. They looked great on my iMac and Macbook, but things were skewed all to hell on my phone.

So I had to create a phone-happy version on my biffmitchell.com site on GoDaddy. And it actually looks good. Unfortunately, I ran into massive formatting problems with the template and I had to create PDFs for each episode…72 of them, along with 72 thumbnails for readers to click on to bring up the PDFs.

Ran into formatting problems on WordPress as well and had to create screen cuts of all the email messages (and there are many many many emails in the novel) which I can insert into the posts each day for the next couple of months.

Now, I realize that I could have sailed around a lot of these problems if I used some HTML, but that would be time-consuming and my HTML is rusty as hell.

And then, of course, there’s getting the word out. I won’t get into the Pinterest, Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit, LinkedIn and Facebook challenges. I could write a book on the ups and downs and the special rules and expectations, especially on some if the Reddit and Facebook sites.

It’s a lot.

But I have a checklist. I worked in Quality Assurance for several years and learned that complex processes crumble and collapse without checklists and stringent testing. So I have a checklist, and when I post something on either site, I read through, looking for misspellings, missing paragraphs, incorrect images…all the cool and maddening ways that things can go wrong and kill the hair follicles in your head.

But I just received a message from a friend informing me that when she clicks the thumbnail for Episode 2 on the GoDaddy site, she gets Episode 3. Fortunately, I don’t have any hair left to loose, but I have to wait an hour before I can correct the error and…whisker by whisker…my new beard is falling out.

It’s a race against the clock to keep my beard and hide the mistake.

There will be more. I’ve been in the IT industry too long to believe any differently.

 

(PS, if you find any errors, mistakes, gross misconceptions, incorrect theses, unintentional release of secret information, or signs of unforgivable sloppiness…please feel free to rub it in my face and I’ll do my best to address it.)

The Weekly Man: Angst and the Daily Deadline

and now

A few years ago, I did something I swore I’d never EVER do again. It seemed like a good idea at the time…”at the time” being the days leading up to it and a few days into it. After a week or so, I was beginning to wonder what the hell I was doing and why I was doing this to myself.

The Idea was simple: Every day for the entire month of October (2014) I would take a picture and post the picture on my blog along with a story about the image or a piece of writing inspired by the image.  (Day 1)

It seemed like a great idea. I’m a photographer and a writer. This would be a marriage between my two favorite endeavors. It would be fun and it would hone my camera and writing skills. I could hardly wait for October 1.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve never regretted that month. I learned a lot and, at times, I actually did have fun. But when you have to do it every single day for 31 you crash into this thing called LIFE. It’s that big package into which you have to squeeze all the stuff you want to do, forcing you to make choices and sacrifices. I should mention that I worked a full time job, taught writing workshops (and was working on a novel) and had a few other things eating up my “blog project” time.

The idea was to post before midnight each day and towards the end, there were days when I clicked the Publish button at exactly midnight, after taking the picture (which might have meant driving for miles out of town after work), processing the picture, writing the story and putting it all into my blog along with formatting and any links that might be needed.

It was a lot of work. And it was for an entire month…a 31 day month. There were nights I lay awake in bed after a crazy effort to make the midnight deadline, wondering if I’d be able to keep up the pace. You get a serious sense of the shortness and implacable nature of time when you get into a race with it. It’s unforgiving, merciless and its smiles are cruel. After making each deadline I swore I’d never do anything like this again.

That was five years ago.

On September 8 of this year, I’m going to torture myself again…this time for 76 days. And as September draws closer, some of that angst I felt five years ago is beginning to eat away at my stomach lining and sink maliciously into my brain. Butterflies are copulating and populating my chest. The future looks busy.

Enter The Weekly Man, a novel I started years ago. I tried shopping it around to agents but no one would touch it because they thought it was a little too far out there to have any kind of mainstream readership or even a large enough audience within the confines of those who would read anything as long as it involved words arranged in sentences. Even my publishing background of five novels and reams of short stories couldn’t pry this one out of the mud.

I’m shopping another novel now and I’m about 50 pages into my next one. But what about The Weekly Man? I can’t just let it sit on my computer forever. I spent over a year researching it, and there was all the time writing and re-writing. It was a lot of work, a lot of time. And honestly, of all the things I’ve written, it’s my favorite.

It’s going to be published.

The idea came to me when I was reading about how novels used to be sold chapter-by-chapter in the days of Dickens: the serialized novel. I was on my coffee break at the time and that crystalized the concept into a single idea: the serialized coffee break novel…just enough reading each day to fit into the standard coffee break. I completely ignored the pain and suffering from five years earlier and started full swing into breaking the novel into coffee break-sized portions. I mean, it seemed pretty much straight forward…just publish each portion each day on a blog. No probelmo.

Overlooked one important tidbit of life information I obviously hadn’t learned: Nothing is ever easy. Nothing.

I went for a fee-based blog to eliminate ads distracting from the story. Setting it up was no problem. I thought, Wow. This, unlike life, is easy.

Until I published it and saw it on my iPhone and realized that my blog wasn’t phone friendly. But I’d already paid for the blog and put a fair amount of effort into it, so I set up a page for it on my personal website for people who read on their phones.

Blog (for those who read on computers)
Website (for those who read on phones)

Two versions. But what the hell, I’ll just publish the same thing twice each day. I can handle that. But then I started experimenting and realized that it was going to be a little more handling than I thought. Things like bring stuck with one font for one version and not being able to indent for the other. But that’s as much as I’ll mention the painful process of dealing with technology.

Promotion turned out to be more than I thought. I’ll summarize: blog, website, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, dedicated Facebook page, Reddit, Goodreads, Pinterest, MySpace, et al. Plus, promotional things like PDF giveaways and media releases. Like life, marketing is never easy.

But I can handle all that. I’ve done it before. It takes time and patience, neither of which I have much of, but I’m stubborn. However, the memories are coming back: making that midnight deadline in good health or bad, leaving the party early because I have a deadline to make, aware every day that there’s something important I have to do at the end of the day and nothing in the world can make that deadline go away.

I’ll keep both of you (my two esteemed readers) posted on the pain, the misery, the joy and the insanity as it unfolds for 76 days starting September 8 and…holy shit…that’s less than 40 days away.

What am I getting into?

Again.