No, not that F word. I’m talking about formatting, a variety of mental torture self-publishing authors must endure in order to make their book printable or readable on a screen.
Formatting is easier than it used to be (they tell me) because there are programmes one can use to bring a manuscript up to trade standards. However, what is a piece of cake to anyone under the age of 30 is mainly gibberish to people of my generation. I find I can read instructions slowly, carefully and repeatedly and still be left thinking ‘hunh?’
Dr Dan’s Casebook is almost, almost formatted for its e-edition, but it has taken me a week of blood, sweat and yes, the other F word. I suspect formatting the paperback will take even longer. Will I find it easier the second time around? I’m not banking on it. It’s a mysterious new world for me, where they speak a different language.
My granddaughter, Ulla, writes a book, draws a cover with her felt tip pens, staples it all together and it’s on her shelf by teatime. She knocks out at least one a week. She has no idea how lucky she is.
While we’re on the letter F, I would like to issue a sincere apology to all flamingoes, past and present. I have spent much of my life mocking them for what seemed to me an anatomical joke played on them by God. Their knees bent backwards. My oldest daughter visited Pensthorpe Nature Reserve this week and on her return advised me that the back-bendy bit of a flamingo’s leg is actually its ankle. Which makes perfect sense.
So, mea culpa. I stand corrected. Knees bending forward, ankles backwards and my formatting brain flat-lining.