Baskets for Butterflies
(Kindle format available, too.)
I finished formatting the inside text and cover layout of my paperback book last month. Then I ordered a sample copy, called a ‘proof,’ which gave me a chance to view the product in physical form before approving it.
My feet paced the floor, waiting for that treasure to arrive in the mail. When the package finally came, it felt heavy in my hands. I was afraid to open it. This was the first time I had formatted a book.
“Surely, I’ll need to make corrections,” my logical mind warned. But my fast-beating heart longed for perfection.
My breath halted as I cut the packing tape and removed the book. Bright yellow words, “Baskets for Butterflies,” flashed out from a dark green background. My fingers brushed the glossy cover with awe. On the bottom of the page, my little garden gnome slept peacefully.
“You’d never know from this picture that he was such a scoundrel,” I laughed aloud.
When I opened the book, it was instantly obvious that the top and outside margins needed to be widened. It was difficult to see this without having the actual trimmed product in my hands.
“That’s OK,” I assured myself. “I expected this.”
So I reformatted the inside text and submitted the book for review again. Then I returned to pacing the floor and watching for the mailman.
When the second proof arrived, it was perfect. Not a letter out of place—I thought.
My writer’s support group, the Inkslingers, was meeting that day. So I packed the precious prize in my bag. “I can’t wait to show everyone!”
At the meeting, I passed around my new toy with smiles and a prideful swagger. It was almost like handing out cigars following a birth.
That was when a friend leaned over and whispered, “Your gutter is…” He paused, searching my face, wondering whether or not to proceed. I held my breath. “…insufficient.”
I glared at him for a good long moment. Finally, I said, “I widened the top and outside margin.”
“The gutter needs it, too.”
I put my forehead on the table. I really hated to face that long process a third time. But I knew deep down in my heart that he was right. The stupid gutter did need to be widened.
That was when I became thankful that I had a friend who cared about me enough to speak the truth, even if I didn’t want to hear it.
It reminded me of a time when I had lost an earring at my workplace. I walked around all day not knowing that a pearl dangled from only one lobe. I attended meetings. Interviewed clients. No one asked the obvious, “What happened to your other pearl?” Did they think, since I was a child of the sixties, that I went to work that day ‘intending’ to wear only one ear bob as a sort of anti-establishment statement?
Fortunately, at the writer’s meeting, my friend had guts enough to tell me I was wearing only one earring (or that my gutter was insufficient).
For the third time, I reworked the interior pieces, paced the floor, and waited for the mailman.
Today, when I see the delivery truck, I rush out to meet it. It doesn’t take long to rip open the package. “Is it right, this time?”
The front cover looks good. I turn it over. Then I sit down cross-legged right where I am and study every detail.
After a while, I jump up and run toward the garden, arms flailing. I gotta show Gnome! “Come see!” I yell.
So he and I sit together while I read. Soon, we’re both laughing. My little garden gnome has such attitude!
“My favorite part,” I tell him, “is the true story of my getting stuck in the quicksand.”
“Oh, Gnome remember,” the little man says as he shakes his head. “Still have nightmares!”
“Of me getting stuck again?”
“No…of horrible droopy-drawered woman chasing me!”
* * *
I hope you laugh when you read my book, too. But I’ll bet you also learn a bit about heirloom seeds balanced on the edge of a precipice.
“Darkness comes.” Gnome reminds me. “Must save plants!”
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