Interior book design is meditative in a way that’s hard to explain. Repetitive yet satisfying, like mowing the lawn. Ahh, the smell of cut grass! The way the afternoon sun reflects off the even rows behind me.
But formatting books is better than mowing the lawn because I don’t have to contend with gasoline and hot metal, and there’s no grass to itch where my shoes rub against my ankles.
The design process clears my mind. I pop my headphones in and get lost putting things to rights. Resize a photo there. Match the fonts here. Even up those margins! METADATA IS THE BEST!!
It’s especially freeing when the words don’t belong to me. When they’re someone else’s words, no dampened anxieties lurk behind the curtains of my mind. I’m still on the lookout for typos, errors, inconsistencies—as natural as breathing, you see—but have no need to worry about a massive hidden plot hole that might be lurking in that whiskey-fueled chapter I wrote at two o clock in the morning before a deadline.
Yet I still get to help make something I can hold in my hands. Maybe that’s why I like formatting books so much better than mowing the lawn, though they have traits in common—books are a craft, not a chore. After it’s done, a book goes out into the world. It takes on a life of its own. The grass in your front lawn carries on with its minor existence, too. Except, in that case, as every homeowner the whole world over knows even if they refuse to admit it, the grass looks and smells nice, but its only true purpose is to grow tall enough to force you back out there to cut it again.
I’m not saying my addiction to writing is any less potent. If anything, my draw to books is stronger, especially in me. But I’ll stick with books for now.
At least until the spring.