Mud Has Been Flung
14/01/2013 § 4 Comments
When the mad dash ended, publishing the Mud Folio after all, I wanted to feel exhilarated, complete, full of a high of some sort instead of an exhaustion compounded by a nagging feeling something is wrong, unmade, or maybe incomplete. Could there be a tiny bit left out? A wrong word in a bad place? A better picture to be used? Often, I go searching for the problem, soul searching the piece and myself; what have I done, could it be better, proof-reading, and tweaking. Usually a fool’s errand, as whatever problem I am looking for probably never existed. At least I should know by now how to finalize one of my own projects and fling it out there as soon it is finished. With a deadline looming and the possibility of a check in the mail, I can bear down on the project and “get ‘r done.” My own stuff, where I can diddle and review and it’s for free, coming to the end, finding where the finish is and stepping over that line, that turns out to be tough.
A few nights ago, I flung the Mud Folio files across the line and here it is, finally published. The 190 pages, comprises a compilation of my, mostly unsung, lyrics. Not complete mind you, full of the lyricals up to a point. Since, month by month, I am adding piecework to the unsung lyrical market, there are now quite a few doggedly recalcitrant lyricals to find their way into the second book of Mud. Seeing how long this one first one took, if I were you, I wouldn’t wait up nights for Mud Folio Dos to hit the book stands. I started compiling the first bugger back in New York during my former life in the film business, sometime in the mid to late ’80s.
What took so long? First, there was the handwritten scribbles of the pieces still in notebooks and get them word processed. Over the years, I finally had to parcel this task out to a few people, as nothing makes time elongate like a molasses drip than typing in the lyrics you thought would be hit singles, word by unsung word. Proofing took a while, quite a while. Late at night is not the time to be catching misspellings or tweaking the quip-filled asides, or the afterword, which seriously hinted at the meaning of life; at my life anyway. Finely parsing the piece, sentence by sentence, made the project feel like a life sentence. Harshly, that downer feeling added to the time spent when it should have been an inducement to finish with good behavior. And throughout the process, of compiling, tweaking, and getting the publications ready, here came life itself, shoving its way to the front of the line: romance, marriage, new jobs (too many, then not enough), moving (twice), kids, rabbit, dog, dishes, garbage, walking said dog, not to mention the free-lance life outside of work. Though happily, I have clients I like and they give me work I relish, which needles me to want to work harder for them, and therefore less so for me.
I wrote a few bits on the trials and tribulations of independent publishing for the blog here, with the hopeful and optimistic title of Mud Folio Almost Here. That was in October of 2011! When I still had a few things to get the files ready for physical publication and way before I tried to ePub the sucker. Long pause. Longer sigh. If I had a single-malt scotch at hand, it would have been drained in an attempt to dull the pain felt for that wonderfully opaque process. I’m a smart guy. I can dabble in HTML. But for the life of me, when the file run through the Kindle has problems that does not appear in the Nook, nor perusing the code for a mind-numbing amount of time finds anything causing the hiccup, it is time to shut the computer and take a long walk. “Off a short pier,” my Dad would love to say. Though with the dog, I dare not.
To illustrate, two pictures.
Same file, same code, different layout, which, as the designer, pisses me off no end. I spent hours laying out the physical book, and then tweaking it to fit my perception, of the final product. I am surmising the Amazon engineers tweaked their software (for the Kindle for Apple products software) to read the stylesheet in this absurd manner, creating a quirky last line of each stanza, adding an unintended emphasis where no emphasis was needed, or sought. Or they are just sloppy and have not fixed something that has been there for years? For the life of me I can’t figure out how to recode the page file to fit their haphazard reading of the text. On all the other platforms (Nook, Adobe Reader iBooks and the other Kindle formats), the text looks as I wanted it to. I went back to the file, and in Sigil, a epub editing software, tried and tried to jigger it up, down, all around, with my left foot out even, and nothing I did was able to fix the Kindle layout. As the Mud Folio is multi-lined poetry, not paragraphs, and lines outside of prose paragraphs probably do not conform to the understanding by engineers’ at Amazon on how text should follow one another, nice and tidy in prose-laden, paragraphical clumps. Software engineers while they may think they are writing poetry in code, what they know of poetry is not-so-much.
And then, as time passes on, chances build that you will get slapped senseless by a death in the family; both my Dad and my wife’s Mom passed away within the past two years. A long pause was filled-in for each.
In between approving proofs, I rewrote the thank yous to get the book up to date. Sadly, Dad and Baci (polish for Grandmother) never got to hold the printed and bound thing in their hands. Though, I wonder, while Mom has gotten around to read the foreword where I thank them all for giving me inspiration, the first lyric catching her eye was the noxious “He’s A Bitch.” The rest of you, outside of my immediate family, if you are one of the many people who have helped me in the past, or slighted me enough inspire lyrics, please don’t look for your name there or anywhere else in the book. At the start, I did add in most everyone who should be thanked which bulked up the page count. A lot. Too much, as this is just a tiny book of poetry, not all that important in the scheme of things. More than a few thank yous looked somewhat perverse. As I nicely wrote it in the new foreword, which you should read, I do give a nice overall thank you.
Those individuals who might feel slighted, now don’t get all huffy and skip the foreword. There’s some really good writing in there, heart-felt prose, humor and a few stray points to ponder, as well as the aforementioned lyrics.
Though right about now, my Dad would say, if he were still here with us, “cut the crap.” (Of course he would, he got a thank you.)
Okay, then, with a little fanfare (kazoos out): After all these years, tah-dah, bra-du-bump-tee-ah, presenting the Mud Folio. In paper (hardcover and softcover) as well as the aforementioned bugger of a process, electrical (ePub, ebooks, for those not into poetics).
Come one, come all, get your copy today. It makes a great gift, too.
Earlier, the folio was available as a free PDF download sent around in order to boost my profile in the world of the professionals who, of course, write the songs that make the young girls cry. Maybe you have one of those? Let me tell you, the softcover version is cooler, so much more professional, with a perfect-bound spine and real quotes by real musicians imprinted right on the cover: Ramsey Lewis, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Hugo Burnham (drummer, Gang Of Four). The hardcover, though exorbitantly priced — the cost of publishing-on-demand, you know, the author only getting close to the cost of a Starbucks Latté on each book sold — is exquisite enough for shelving next to all your Chris Ware, Dave Eggers, Michael Chabon, Malcolm Gladwell, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Margaret Wise Brown, and Gore Vidal tomes. At least that’s where my copy sits. On the stairs. Like I said, I’ve been busy and in the scheme of things shelving units come after selling a few copies on Amazon or Lulu.com.
Just kidding. We have shelves and cubbies and those stairs. I can’t seem to find the urge to trim our book collection of any item with pages, a front cover, back cover, words in between, and maybe even pictures. Which is all the more reason you need a copy for your collection, to gather dust next to your best of the best literature, right? Please, not right away, as you’ll miss some funny anecdotes, humorous songs without music, and rants about revolutionaries tucked in for good measure. Some sad songs too, but I hate to mention them. Some of my best stuff came out of, or in spite of, or to spite sadness, at least I think they are more than just good, but sad songs are just not enough of an “oomph” to be able to sell books of this sort — collections of poetry under 200 pages by unknown authors at full list price — unless said songs were recorded by the likes of Nick Drake, Edith Piaf, Carly Simon, Roy Orbison, Mr Ono Lennon, or Mr Joy Division, Ian Curtis.
Then again, if those guys had been singing my songs this wouldn’t be a book of that sort. It’s be a book of some sort. I’d have a real website instead of a blog, and Penguin or Random House or Farrar Strauss & Giroux, oh my, would be clamoring to publish this, budgeting a full-on ad campaign and author’s tour with room service and mini-bars; all contractually and conveniently dispersed out of the author’s piddling future royalties, of course. But since every last penny is going to me you should buy a book or two, and I do mean pennies as these books, handcrafted, printed one-by-one by Lulu, ups the piece rate ginormously. To add in a “green” incentive for all those of the granola set: printing on demand means no inventory, ergo saving a whole forest of trees from certain devastation by my ego.
For more of a sales pitch, and check out all the quotables quoted who might help you part with a tad of your expendable cash, you can download the Mud Folio One Sheet.