Friday, April 24, 2009

Printing the Manuscript - Terror and Anguish Wrapped Up in One Hour and 15 Minutes

Does anyone have the same anguish I have. The same fear and absolute dread I feel. The acidic pit boring through my stomach lining like battery acid through an unprotected cornea. The abject terror that I only experience when I'm doing one specific task. One thing that should be so simple, so painless, yet it's usually frustrating enough to make this grown man want to stand on his desk and smash his chair against the wall.

Yes, I'm talking about my absolute least favorite writing activity. . . printing the novel.

(Aarrrgggghhhhh! Run away in terrror)

It's amazing how much trepidation I feel when I know it's time to print the entire manuscript. It shouldn't be this hard, but it is, every time.

I'm not talking about insecurities, or worries that the manuscript isn't good enough or will be rejected. I can deal with those. That's all part of being a writer. What I can't deal with are technical problems that always seem to arise, like flies hoovering over a dumpster, during the printing process. And damn, if there doesn't always seem to be at least one.

Can anyone relate to this or is this my private burden?

I went out and bought the most reliable, fastest printer I could, hoping to ease the process, to no avail. Still, a mini-drama every time.

Twice this evening, the printing job stopped midway through for no apparent reason other than a micro-shift in the wind direction over lower Angola. When I restarted the job after the first stoppage, it did restart, at the beginning, reprinting the entire 258 pages that it had already printed before it stopped the first time. Leaving me searching for newer and more exciting swear words (perhaps in an exotic language) and wondering what to do with the half-finished, printed novel now lying in a heap on my floor.

I dare never leave the side of the printer, watching each and every page like a nursery school teacher watching her kids over recess. Checking to make sure the paper doesn't jam or the printer doesn't spit out one page of text over the length of two pages that were stuck together. Occasionally, the printer spits our blank pages for no apparent reason, these have to be fished out. Each page crawls out of the printer unleashing a Stephen King novel's worth of terrible possibilities.

As the job progresses, the printer gets so internally warm that the outgoing paper starts to curl. This, of course, makes it lie irregular on the receiving bed so the next page printed scrolls underneath the previous page. Or pushes it off the printer on to the floor. So I stand there, watching each page come out, tapping the paper down so it lines up properly. Page after page.

For one hour and fifteen minutes.

Wait. . . the paper's jammed. Got to start the whole thing over again.

Ah, the joys of publishing.


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Lindsey said...

I don't even have a printer! At some point, that's going to be a problem.

Elizabeth said...

My present to myself upon completion of my first draft will be to buy a printer. By the way if you are feeling adventurous, you can try to print only the second half or your manuscript to have the full thing. Just go to print setup and choose to print only from a certain page number. :) Happy printing!

Laura Cococcia said...

Hi! I just came across your blog and absolutely love it. I will be back for more tips - your experience is extremely valuable - thank you for sharing!


Todd D. Severin said...

Thanks for the comments, gang. I agree, the best present you can ever buy yourself is the best, fastest, most-reliable printer on the market. Printing the novel shouldn't be our greatest source of frustration.

One other thing, don't skimp on the paper also. Cheap paper tends to stick to itself or curl irregularly when the printer gets hot. There's nothing worse than printing the whole shebang then finding two or three pages stuck to each other or printed on half the following page.

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Rebecca Klempner said...

I've felt those paper-jam-in-the-middle-of-big-job blues before, but I've learned how to get around them. I notice the original blog post is a couple years old, but now you can upload your documents directly to many printshops, both chains and locally-owned. Let them print the big job, stick in the mega-sized staples, etc. It's worth the bucks to do it that way.