I recently published my first poetry book: Table Nomad: A Wanderer’s Collection on Amazon. Writing poetry is something very personal. Self-publishing, designing and creating the layout myself, made it a bit more intimate.
I learnt a lot of new skills and polished up on existing ones during this process. Adobe InDesign was completely new to me when I first started to layout my book. I was in Munnar, India at that time, taking a break from extensive traveling. While taking a few days to relax, I suddenly felt the urge to finally put together this book. I had most of the content written already. I also had over 10,000 images from my travels. So, it was a matter of putting it all together.
“It’s not about doing everything alone. It’s more about learning something new and applying that knowledge in the practical world.”
Here are three lessons I learned from the writing and publishing process:
Lesson 1: To make an idea come into reality, one must take action
I’ve thought about it. Talked about it. Dreamed about it. One day I finally realized that what’s left is, to simply do it. The hardest part of an extensive project is getting things going. Over the years, I’ve found that whenever I get myself to start something, I tend to follow through. There’s something in me that doesn’t want to back down once I start something. So, I started by subscribing to InDesign. Now it was serious, I have made an investment in a tool that I had no clue how to operate! My brain figured out what needed to happen next and soon I had gathered my pieces of writing that were stored on websites, Instagram and my notes.
Lesson 2: Getting different perspectives and opinions are good, but at the end you must decide
When I started arranging the poems and images, I asked a couple of friends for their opinions. It was good to know what others were seeing and understand whether your creation is communicating the right message. However, the ultimate decision to decide on which font to use and how to format an image was up to me. There were times that I doubted myself. It can be frustrating when you can’t decide on something. But, in order to make progress, we must make a decision and stick with it. Yes, sometimes it’s risky. Yes, we must live with the consequences of our decisions. But, it’s also all about your outlook. We can always learn from a mistake. The good thing in the digital age is that we can change things easily. Which leads to my next lesson …
Lesson 3: Be open to change and don’t settle
I first got a taste for making corrections and revisions during my master’s thesis. I am thankful for my thesis chair for pushing me to revise, re-write and redo. It can be extremely frustrating to find an error right when you think it’s ready to go live. But finding errors and having the ability to correct them is a blessing in disguise. Yes, it can take a toll on you after the 10th time, but it teaches you to become more careful and pay attention to detail. In the beginning, I wanted to publish around 50 poems and sayings with images. When I realized that the cost was too high to do color images, I was disappointed. I felt as if all my efforts had come to a standstill.
Determination is a fascinating quality. Couple that with the ability to make compromises, it’s not too hard to find win-wins. I had to change my book to meet the practical aspects of publishing. So, I made the photography and poetry (color) version available digitally and created a poetry only paperback version. I didn’t get everything I wanted. But then again, I did.