Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Madder Than a Cut Snake

Well I’ve officially gone mad.

“Whadda ya mean gone mad? You’ve always been madder than a cut snake!”

Uncle Harry, I hate to say it mate, but as a figment of my imagination you’ve probably proved the case.

I seem to have been doing almost anything to avoid finishing off the corrections to my manuscript suggested by Cheryl some weeks ago.
For a while I was fairly diligent, now I think I am only a few hours away from completing. My problem is I just seem to use any excuse to avoid those last few hours of work.

I don’t count blogging, although it is dangerously addictive. Some of my avoidance tactics have been fairly constructive such as: researching for the sequel; a little writing of the sequel; house work, mowing the lawn etc.

But most of them have been a sheer waste of time, like watching TV including: Aussie Rules Football (I don’t even barrack for a team) or Netball (ditto).

In short I have been procrastinating.

I thought I would share one of my procrastinations.
In a supreme effort to waste time I have designed a cover for my novel.

Mind you I haven’t the foggiest notion of why I think I need to design a cover.

Here are a few of the reasons I don’t need a cover:
- I haven’t got an agent yet, let alone a publisher.
- When I finally get a publisher they are not likely to be at all interested in my design.
- My artistic tendencies are in writing not graphic design.
- I don’t think I am likely to self publish.

But reason be damned, I was doing one anyway.
The creation of this piece has been a supreme effort of procrastination. Initially, a rough idea for the cover popped into my head: I thought it should feature a vivid blue eye because one of my leading characters features an impressive pair of peepers; then the working title is Veiled in Shadows so the obvious thing was a veiled face with a blue eye.

So armed with this nugget I went searching through stock photos.
I eventually found this image and bought a $5 limited licence.
I cropped it a bit and added some text and had a first draft, so to speak.
While this said “veiled” alright it kind of didn’t quite work for me.
So I had to add something but what?

Then quite by chance I happened to walk past a little militaria shop in Melbourne. In the window I saw among other things some Nazi documents.
I bought this one for $45 (as an aside is anyone’s German good enough for a translation? I have a minute amount of German and much of the officialese in this goes right over my head)

So after a fair bit of scanning and learning how to drive a photo editor to (do more than crop), coupled with a lot of hair tearing (my procrastination can be carried to absurd levels) I ended up with this.
To which I have added a spine and a back cover. The blurb probably deserves an apology; I really struggle at distilling 120,000 words and multiple sub-plots to half a page of text and at the same time trying to make it catchy. I hope I haven’t made the work sound trashy, I don’t think it is.

Now I have to go because I have procrastinated long enough.


Kathleen Jones said...

Hey - I really like this - very slick and professional looking. You could always use this image as a 'flier' to publicise the book (brief blurb on cover) and send a good print of it out with the manuscript to publishers etc. Make your ms stand out from the crowd and be eye-catching.
The letter is interesting, on National Socialist party headed paper. I have a feeling (my partner Neil is half German) that the words nicht bekannt geworden mean 'cannot become known', but can't work out what the rest means!
Don't worry - we all procrastinate like h**** - my favourite displacement activity is drinking endless cups of coffee and making lists of what I should be doing. There's also a theory that writing itself is a form of displacement behaviour!
Good luck.

baileythebookworm said...

I'm actually working on designing and publishing a book/magazine/journal for a literary editing class I'm taking, so designing book covers is currently weighing heavily on my mind! It's nice to see someone else is working on these things who isn't quite sure how to go about it and still have it come out looking fabulous.

Jemima said...

Looks great! I am sure it will have a little publisher's logo on the spine soon.

Lisa said...

Well, Al, you have been a busy man. Now if you only had a book to put that lovely cover on!

We used to be able to catch some Aussie rules football here once in awhile but haven't seen it in ages. We even have one of the balls; I believe it's for the Melbourne Cats. Is there such a team?

Lisa said...

It is the Geelong Cats, you're right! Go Cats!

Al said...

Hi Kathleen,
I was surprised by how well it turned out, I have printed it on a photo quality printer and if anything it looks better in the flesh.
I hadn’t thought of using the image as a flier. Most of the advice I have seen says “don’t include gimmicks” in submissions. Do you think adding a flyer would fall under the category of gimmick?
I agree the letter is interesting, from my hopeless German, it seems to be from the Berlin district of the NSDAP and addressed to the senior management (Grand Admiral's office) of the German national Railways. It refers to a Theodor Breitbach born on 8.6.1907 I can pick out other words like, above-mentioned, position, politically and unfavourable but these random words just serve to tantalise.
Writing displacement behaviour? Exactly! Any break from the real world can only be seen as a positive.
But does that also mean I am procrastinating to avoid procrastinating?

Hi Bailey,
I think the key here is I have started with a good photo and added very simple elements to it. Hence my innate lack of visual art skill is minimised.
But it is pleasing to see what you can achieve with a bit of technology, I could never have done anything like this with traditional materials. Good luck with your class!

Thanks Jemima,
As I said above, I was really surprised by how well it turned out.
Here’s hoping, but truth be told what I really struggle with is framing queries, so I think the hard yards are still ahead.

Hi Lisa,
I know I just don’t stop. And I get the sub text “Get back to work Al”
Thanks for keeping me honest.
I can’t support the Cats, my other half is a Saint Kilda fan. So I’ll just have to continue sitting on the fence. At least there is a nice view perched up here on the fence.

Wendy R said...

Dear Al
Great Post and great cover. All these procastinations - I think - give our imaginations room to breathe and should have their place. They are a form of play while the slots go down in our heads about our novel. What better form of play than to create the cover? As a novelist, in the end, you have to conceptualise all those words as a physical object with a life of its own This is a highly imaginative process and I think the outcome here is brilliant. Clever you - it's very useful to be madder than a snake sometimes. I too think this could be a good sell with publishers, if you present it just as a notion about how the novel might look, and also to allude the tone of your story. Very enticing. WHEN you sell the novel the publishers might have their own ideas but it will have made its impression. Blurbs are another discussion. I've never met anyone who has the absolute secret of blurbs, Sometimes they tell too much story. They often wrongly stereotype the novel. Sometimes they put you off a great story...
I loved this post.
Now finish your novel..

Very best


Al said...

Dear Wendy,
Thank you, as always an insightful comment.
I think life would be very boring without a little insanity and absolutely infuriating without procrastination.
Blurbs seem to be a whole different art form, I really don't get how to craft them.
Yes I must get back to work.

heidenkind said...

Personally I think that's a pretty good cover! And hey, whatever helps the creative process, right?

Al said...

Hi Tasha,
Thanks! As long as it's fun!

Amanda said...

Ok now that officially is a kick-ass cover. I'm sold. :)

Al said...

Hey Amanda,
Thanks for the comment!
Now I just have to sell the book :)