I’m not sure I’ll ever get tired of puns like that title. I am sure I’ll have a lot more to reflect upon later, beyond the production line, but right now, with the edits nearly (eternally ‘nearly’, it sometimes seems) done, the design work underway and the printer’s quote sitting there in my inbox, Grapple Publishing and The Grapple Annual feel more real than ever.
Of course, things never go as smoothly or swiftly as planned. It’s one of first things people tell you when starting up something like this, but you never know until you get underway just how, despite all you’ve planned, it will apply especially to you. But still: soon. Soon it will be an actual object in my hands, a complete package I can give to people or send, completed, around the world. Soon, others will be able to grapple with its contents, hopefully taking something from the process. I know I have.
I’m one of the n00bz when it comes to this editing/publishing/slapping-books-together-somewhat-professionally caper. One of the big things I’ve taken from my own process of grappling with this first Annual is just how much I love the editing process. I knew I was into editing when I elected to study it in Postgrad Diploma form, but it’s different when people are kind enough to send you stuff, to ask to be part of something you’re the engine behind. So now I’ve been reading and editing poems, stories, essays, memoirs and pieces that cross-categories. Some have been compact, some have been sprawling. All have been amazing in their own way and I feel a bit weird getting excited about tinkering with someone else’s work. But of course I love editing. It fuses writing and reading, two of my favourite activities, and appeals to my finicky attention to detail, my love of dictionaries and eagerness to research, learn and solve puzzles. I get to connect with people who understand my enthusiasm for word conglomerations and are ready to enter into a humble collaboration, with often subtle but cumulatively powerful results. I don’t have to worry about my issues with starting or finishing a piece of writing. The writing is done for me, more or less. I just need to edit.Editing has now joined writing and reading to vie for my interest and time. For the time being, it seems like editing’s the dominant one, and it’s been a new challenge in and of itself to desist from taking on writing projects and to actually not write. I miss writing, and that’s encouraging, that writing remains a connected but separate passion that I’m irrevocably drawn to. But really, writing, editing and reading all go together. They inform each other. I think all this editing has already made me a better writer, for instance, but we’ll see (for now, I’m just stoked that I’ve already written this much — it’s the most writing I’ve done in months; amazing what you get done on a little roadtrip holiday).
Anyway, of course there’s also publishing, much of which I have yet to experience. Still, so far I love the publishing side of things too, but this is perhaps the most multifaceted, the most complicated and fraught of relationships. Money’s involved more than ever. Legalities and realities. Matters of appearances. Other parties and props get mixed in: businesses and organisations and admin and spreadsheets and emails — lots of emails. The regular reality checks (How many books can I afford to print? How many can I sell? How will I get people to begin to give a shit about this thing that I’ve poured my days into?) are a great counterpoint to the boundless possibilities of tinkering with literature. Again, it’s encouraging to me that I maintain an interest in all of this, but it’s also taught me that it’s probably crazy to go it alone. Publishing isn’t a solo venture. When designers and editorial assistants stepped up, I (again) realised that this was a thing that really can grow outside of one head, page and inbox, that other people can come along, help on the ride and nudge it in interesting directions, make it better, make it more manageable. Like the editing process, publishing is a collaboration.
And, yes, the next collaboration will be between The Grapple Annual and its readers. Finding an audience. Generating discussion. Getting into the hands and heads of every individual reader and hoping to stay there, wriggle in and make something good happen. Sparking thoughts, images, ideas, imaginations and who knows what else. Making and letting this happen, with so much already done, and so much yet to do, is really flabbergastingly thrilling to consider.
Grappling with this Annual has already been more than worth it for this n00b, and I’m so excited for when others can grapple with it in their own way. And then it’s on to the next one, while working on finding a balanced place for these new editing and publishing passions along with writing and reading and everything else; looking for more collaborators; looking for more fellow grapplers. Still, I kind of hope I remain, in some way (even if only in temperament), an eternally enthusiastic n00b about the whole thing.
This post was written in honour of #TheN00bz.