Undertaking a new project is an exciting thing; the anticipation of the finished product drives us to exert every effort as we progress from laying the foundations to polishing and perfecting our creation.
I recall when I was building mold tooling. Big polished aluminium creations that bent the mind with their complexity and intricacies; bending, shaping, forming, welding and endless sanding and polishing to form a shell that was an inside-out casing for the finished plastic product.
It was like making jelly molds for giants – spa pools, kayaks, water tanks, even a road case for equestrian equipment complete with the reproduction of a horses back to store the saddle on.
The most exciting part was the design stage, imagineering (new word) the product and then designing the mold tool, remembering that it has to be split open to release the product.
Aluminium shells bolted to tubular steel frames with all kinds of tooling to aid in the clamping together and taking apart of the mold.
Tooling sometimes in excess of two meters in size, built with an accuracy tolerance of a millimeter or less.
All built by hand, using panel crafting techniques from the early twentieth century, as no fillers could be used due the fact that the tooling would be spending its life going in and out of a fan forced oven.
Many of the jobs I undertook, I had only the faintest idea of how the job could be done, learning how to build the thing while I built it.
It therefore should be understandable, or at least I hope it is, that when I decided to take the plunge and write my first novel, I had very little idea of how to do it and I have learned how as I have done it.
It has been quite the journey, with the thing that I originally considered a finished book now a faded memory, little better than a rough draft for what The Road Out has now become.
There have been rough spots along the way, many ups and downs, but I have been resolute and determined that I will both finish this thing and continue writing – indeed, the vague outlines of the plot for Dark, my second novel, have started to emerge from the murky shadows of my mind.
Unfortunately, life has decided on one last twist of the knife, as it were; one last attempt to get me to bend the knee and accept defeat.
Due to my awareness that my literary qualifications are, well, non-existent, I readily accepted the offer from a very kind young lady in the United States to proof read my novel for technical consistency. She has a couple of degrees in English Literature, is a thoughtful and patient person and I very much wanted her input.
I sent her the manuscript as a PDF document, and she set to work highlighting and notating her way through, telling me as she progressed that there were, indeed, technical things that needed addressing but that she felt that I had a good book on my hands.
A few days ago her husband contacted me to inform me that she had been called away for family reasons and that the computer on which her file was stored had a corrupted hard drive.
He sent me the file, but I have heard from another friend who is a data recovery specialist that the file is unrecoverable.
Needless to say, my lovely proof reader is devastated and I’m sure its the last thing she needed on top of a family crisis.
I was gutted, to be honest. My schedule for publication had just been run over by a truck and funding for professional help is out of the question.
However, all is not lost.
In my usual fashion, I have taken this setback as just another hill to climb.
The thing about hills is, while you do have an uphill trek in front of you, you have a better view from the top and a nice downhill run on the other side.
I am now digging into some reading on the standards for grammar and punctuation; researching every term I don’t understand until I do understand it and moving forward from there.
If there is one thing I have a voracious appetite for, it’s learning; I just can’t get enough of the stuff.
The coming weeks will be spent on a painstaking search to weed out those little inconsistencies and grammatical errors, all the while learning as I go.
Compared to a formal education, which is beyond my financial capabilities (as with most things in Australia, the advanced education system here borders on organized crime), the nutting it out on the fly method can be cumbersome and haphazard.
It is, however, the way I usually do things.
When I closed my mold making business due to family problems that required my time, our shop was renowned in the industry as the place you went to when everyone else said it couldn’t be done.
To be honest, when I looked at the jobs brought to me, I didn’t think they could be done either.
Then I would do whatever it took to get it done anyway, and I learned how to do it as I went along.
The Road Out will also be done, and I’ll learn how to do it as I go.