On Writing & Storytelling: The Ups and Downs (Mostly Downs) of a Writer’s Working Life

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

Insomnia Strikes Again!

Hi, there, Dear Reader. It’s early afternoon here in Lithia, Florida, on Monday, March 27, 2023 – and, man, am I tired! I had yet another one of those Gee, why can’t I go to sleep at a decent hour? nights when, as hard as I tried, I simply couldn’t get comfortable on my futon and drift off into trouble-free slumber. The last time I checked the time (on this computer), it was 2:31 AM Eastern Daylight Time.

Considering that I managed to stay awake at least to the halfway mark of Shackled to a Corpse – the fifth episode of The First World War (2003), I estimate that I stayed up well after 3 AM. I slept relatively well once I did fall asleep, and thankfully I did not wake up until after 7:30 AM. Nevertheless, I am functioning on only a few hours of sleep, so I think today is not going to be one of my more productive writing days, I fear.

An Updated Cover Reveal

Even though I took most of the weekend off from writing – except for my daily blog posts, natch – and didn’t work on my new storytelling project, I did have to do a few cosmetic fixes to Reunion: A Story’s paperback edition.

One of my friends in South Florida had received a copy of the revised second edition of my novella, and the first thing he noticed was that the text on the cover – specifically the “blurb” and author bio on the reverse cover – was difficult to read. The font I originally chose was black, which is fine if the background is consistently light – preferably a solid color – and the text doesn’t “compete” with an illustration or is printed over areas with lots of shadows.

I studied journalism in college from 1985 to 1989, and I learned some things about page design, layouts, and how to use text and graphics effectively. So, I “kinda, sorta” suspected that the text option I chose for the cover (based on the limited selection of layouts, illustrations, and variations of fonts and colors available on the Kindle Direct Publishing site) wasn’t ideal.

But…it was late at night (almost 1 AM on the day I uploaded the “final” fixes to KDP), and I was tired, frustrated, and just wanted to get my paperback edition to go “live” on Amazon. So, I just chose the text-illustration combo that seemed to be the least tricky to pull off, especially since KDP doesn’t have a way to mix different colors in the “copy” of a cover to compensate for issues involving light and shadows on the illustration an author chooses.

My friend, Rogers Perez, was the graphics editor and editorial cartoonist at the college student paper when I was one of the section editors there in the late 1980s, so he knows more about page design, illustration, and the finer points of using fonts with artwork than I do.

As you can see, the dark text shows up in the light-colored areas of the cover in an acceptable manner; but even in this screengrab, you can tell that some of the black letters are harder to distinguish in the darker, shadowy areas of the illustration. It’s not so bad when you hold the real book in your hand, but yeah. I didn’t choose my font colors wisely.

So, when he said that the text on the paperback’s cover art was hard to read, I understood what I had to do – I needed to make some adjustments…specifically, to the font for the story summary and the author bio on the back cover. I went back to Amazon, signed into my KDP account, and after trying several combinations of font styles and colors, I came up with this:  

It’s not perfect, but it is better than what was there before I fixed the issue with the font colors and their interaction with the illustration.

The Best-Laid Plans of Mice and Men….

Photo by the author

“Can I be blunt on this subject? If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”  ― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

I had planned to get some work done on my next story, but I’m sleepy, muddy-brained, and don’t feel up to it today. One of the things I’ve learned in my many years as a writer is that working when you’re tired does more harm than good, and it’s harder to write good copy when your physical and mental energy reserves are low.

A “selfie” from 2020.

(Hell, even writing this brief post has been difficult! I started writing it shortly before 10 AM Tampa time; it’s now almost 1 PM…you do the math!)

“Reading at meals is considered rude in polite society, but if you expect to succeed as a writer, rudeness should be the second-to-least of your concerns. The least of all should be polite society and what it expects.” ― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

I will put my unexpected “day off” from writing to good use, though, by devoting some time to reading and not obsessing over either Reunion or the new work-in-progress. Writers must do tons of reading as part of the creative process; as any writer will tell you, you won’t be a good writer unless you read constantly and eagerly. It doesn’t matter whether you read good stories, bad stories, or meh stories. It also doesn’t matter what genre you choose to read, or who writes the stories, or if they’re considered to be high literature or trashy dime-store dreck. Just read, dammit!

So, Dear Reader, that’s exactly what I’m going to do. And if you’ll excuse me, I will take your leave. Until next time, stay safe and healthy, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.  

Oh, and if you haven’t done so already, please buy a copy of my book!

Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

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