The dangers of being a little bit clever

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When I’m in the middle of a thicket of my own creation, I berate myself for over-estimating my ability. I think I can do things. I plunge forwards and eventually come out the other side but only after tying myself in Gordian knots of difficulty. This is a serious character flaw. The danger comes from wanting to do things for myself rather than paying to have them done for me. Wartime upbringing? And a freelance lifetime spent not spending money if it can be avoided.

I’ve just spent days tussling with getting a novel onto CreateSpace for free. I can do that, I thought – no trouble. In the past I’ve done much more complicated, digital-type things. But, but, but…. The thicket grew around me. I could not get the margins right. It should have been so simple. The breakthrough came when, after checking and checking every detail, I discovered in a small corner of my Word doc menus a tick in a box which should have been unticked. I’d ticked it hours before thinking it would solve my difficulty. It didn’t. I’d solved the main problem in other ways but that wretched tick was still throwing the format. Stupid idiot, I hissed through teeth clamped as though in rigor mortis.

When eventually I’d got it right – not perfect, but right enough – and I’d got the format approved by the website, I spotted a glaring textual error on the back jacket. I’d called my main character Bess instead of Beth. Long pause for more hissing, gnashing, grinding. I can’t even get the names right! So what about the quality of the content, the actual writing? Ay, there’s the rub. I can write. I’ve been told that often enough. Yet here I am, giving up all idea of ever finding a publisher for my work, fooling around with margins and typos to self-publish my work. Do you mind if I go off and sob in a bush for a moment.

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