I have to admit creating an eBook from our matriarchal travels has been a lot more work than I first thought. Here are a few things I’ve learnt:
The First Thing:
I don’t know whether it’s like this for everyone, but when you start writing you suddenly start to embellish everything with little exaggerations or ideas to make yourself look cooler. I found these small changes soon escalated, however, and while they sounded good at the time, later they seemed quite pretentious.
When my girlfriend read my notes, she immediately said: “Seriously! Did you really drink that much beer at the street fiesta? I remember you danced with that cross-dresser, why don’t you put that in, it’s a lot more funny!”
With time I realised I had to focus on the truth, and have since become quite pedantic about separating what really happened from what I think would sound good happening. Anyway, correcting this was quite straight forward – you simply have to be honest. What was more difficult was remembering accurately what your feelings were at that moment. But, luckily I usually had some diary scribbles to consult with, so stuck with them.
The Second Thing:
Like many people I started to write my notes in Microsoft Word, but as I continued to add quotes, facts, direct speech and personal comments… it all suddenly became very confusing. I battled on, however, getting lots of headaches and thinking that perhaps it’s just because I’m not very clever.
It was always worse when I came back to writing after a few days, all the paragraphs looked the same!
So, I eventually decided to change the text colour of different sections of writing: quotes became red, facts blue, descriptions black, direct speech purple, personal notes green and so on.
This colour coding suddenly allowed me to see the structure of the book clearly, and I realised that even a visual artist like me can organise some writing – with the help of a little bit of colour.
It’s a shame I didn’t find this out at school. I could have become a very different person!
The Third Thing:
Matching and integrating images with writing turned out to by quite tricky too.
I had lots of sketches and doodles from this culture, and, of course, wanted to include all the best ones. But, in doing so, I soon found I was creating two very different books, one visual and one written.
The writing didn’t always work with the pictures!
It seemed my brain was processing the two art forms separately. I had to somehow get them to merge back together, as it were.
So, I ended up reading a bit of text and then drawing a doodle about the image it conjures up. This doodle I then compared my sketches to see which one matched, and surprisingly, the sketch that often worked the best was not always my favourite!
The Forth Thing:
The subject of matriarchy and gender studies I imagine is a little tricky for any man to write about, and I am no exception. I thought I wouldn’t be ashamed about at first, but after several lots of jokes and ribbings, by mostly girls, I realised that I was.
To overcome this embarrassment, I decided to do an experiment.
I would carry on with the project as best I could and try to forget about my own male pride. This I did, and sure enough, I discovered I was interested in matriarchy and gender studies after all. Researching the gossip and internal workings of family and social hierarchy – who wouldn’t be?
The Fifth Thing:
When I finished the book, or thought I had finished, I read through it all and I was disappointed to find that it wasn’t actually very good.
All that hard work had been for nothing, and I slowly convinced myself that I obviously wasn’t a very interesting person.
To cope with this feeling of failure, I started to make lots of silly jokes to ridicule the book and myself, and then I realised that maybe this is why the book isn’t any good – because it was all too serious.
So, I went back though it taking out the serious pontification I had spent hours putting together, thinking how deep I was, and suddenly the whole thing read a lot better!
So there you go, anyone can write an eBook if I can … and here it is … a journey to the Isthmus Zapotec Culture of southern Mexico in search of matriarchy, and I have even been extra silly and produced an animated cover!
Thank you for your interest in our project.
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