The topic for this third week of the workshop is Developing your Project Plan. We were given several worksheets to fill out as part of this assignment. Two were basic inventories or self-assessments of our resources, proportionally, in terms of time, money and skills; and our personal strengths and weaknesses in terms of tasks that would need to be accomplished in order to self-publish.
There is no one-way, or tried-and-true plan, to self-publish. Depending upon what my own personal goals are, and what resources and skills I bring to the project my plan will be different than someone who has other goals, resources and skills.
Proportionally, I valued my resources at 50% skills, 40% time and 10% money because I have training and experience across a broad range of necessary activities including non-fiction writing (for press releases, book covers, bio, promotional materials), photography and scanner skills (for promotional materials), and general web and HTML skills (for designing and maintaining a website, and platform activities like blogging and participating in online communities). My weaknesses are in the areas of art or design, public speaking skills or comfort level and confidence.
Since I have a fair amount of needed skills and pretty much time, I will do most of the work myself. If I had fewer of either, but a lot of money to throw at this project, I could hire someone to do all of that for me.
The final part of this assignment was to begin to work on a project plan template which listed the items that would need to be accomplished in chronological order and gave an estimation of how long each would take to complete. We were instructed to fill this form out in pencil because as we move through the workshop and learn more about each item, our estimates of when we will be able to accomplish any given one, or how we want to do it, may change.
I found this to be a very helpful assignment because it forced me to take a realistic look at what will be required of me, what I will be able to do on my own, what I will need outside help with, which promotional activities I may want to concentrate on because of my strengths and weaknesses, and just how long all of this activity will likely take.
My instructor wrote the following question on my last assignment (#2): “Are you confident that the way the book is written will serve the subject well?”
This, I think, will be the biggest sticking point for me. How will I know when the book is written well enough? I thought I had it pretty well edited, and I had hired a professional to edit it for me. So I sent the first chapter to the workshop instructor for his input and he sent it back with about six edits (all missing commas except one) and a couple of comments. I thought I was done. So this has shaken my confidence a bit. When is good enough, good enough?
Here is the chapter I sent him with his edits included. (Let me know if you find any more mistakes.):
Chapter 1 — Watching in the Night
Monday, October 5, 2009
It’s 1:45 in the morning and I’m having trouble sleeping again. Vivid scenes from August play unbidden through my mind on an endless loop.
I abandon the effort to sleep and get out of bed to retrieve my robe from the bathroom hook, stopping for a moment to search out the window and into the darkness. I stand motionless watching the night, listening, waiting, hoping. I see only our still front yard and its massive oak tree, the early autumn colors illuminated by the porch light below my window. I hear nothing.
I do a quick calculation in my head. Seven weeks. Almost to the day. Since Annie died.
I tiptoe around the bed to get my glasses from the nightstand, trying not to wake my husband or our seven-month-old little white peek-a-poo Arthur.
I surrender to the insistent memories that disrupt my rest and walk downstairs directly to my computer desk. The glow from a light left on in the family room that filters down the hall isn’t bright enough to illuminate where I sit. I can’t see the keys on the keyboard. Even so, I am reluctant to turn on a light and disturb the darkness.
Arthur is crying upstairs. His radar on my every movement must have issued an alarm. I go back up the stairs, open the door to his cage where he lies beside my bed, pick him up and return downstairs to take him outside to his fenced-in area.
The silence, solitude and darkness outside bring a tingle to my skin although the air is still warm. Again I stand very still to search and listen—but nothing.
Arthur has finished his business. I pick him up, return inside, and lock the door. I settle him on the folded blanket beside my desk where he often sleeps as I work.
I’ve known I needed to write this story for a while now. I would tell my sister Annie’s story in her own words if I could. In fact, there is nothing I would like better than to tell her story from her perspective. But I don’t know what she was thinking or how she felt—it wasn’t possible while she was alive and any remote hope that someday, somehow she might be able to communicate that to us has died with her.
I know I need to write this story, but I am afraid I have waited too long and won’t be able to remember it clearly. I am afraid it is too soon and I will remember it too well.