We finally finished our new book – Easy Jams, Chutneys and Preserves
– and it’s a great relief. We’d had a number of people suggest that we do a recipe book and the preserves section of the site is very popular so it seemed like a good idea at the time.
It’s a funny old business, writing. When we write something for the web site, whether it be a recipe or a diary entry like this, there is an immediacy about it. We sit down in front of the computer and it flows through the keyboard onto the screen and then to the server and web page in minutes.
If we’ve made a mistake, perhaps used ‘there’ instead of ‘their’ or missed an ingredient out of a recipe, it is the work of moments to correct it. It doesn’t make any difference if we spot a mistake in moments or weeks after we publish, it can be fixed.
Part of the nature of the internet is this change. I don’t think anyone realised when the net got started that it would have this fundamental quality of being malleable. Scientific information was exchanged, learned papers appeared online but they were thought of as if they were printed documents. Sure, they could be commented upon, but nobody really thought of them as changeable.
This quality of being changeable gives an author great comfort. I know I can alter things so I can concentrate on what I want to say and plug the holes later if need be.
Books are very different. Once they have gone off to the printer, that’s it. It may as well be carved in stone. Any errors that have crept through are going to stay there, at least until the next re-print.
This makes writing for print a very different proposition. I don’t worry about using the wrong ‘there’ because there is are intermediate steps between writing and printing like the editorial corrections which usually means those errors get picked up on the way.
What does worry me is factual errors. For example, in The Essential Allotment Guide I have a chart showing the average germination time of various seeds. Now the first thing somebody said to me was ‘that’s wrong for parsnips’. Well, he thought it was. I checked the information in there through 3 sources. 2 books and a major seed merchant before it went into my book.
The amount of discussion we had about the Easy Jams you would not believe. Yes we have our recipes but in so and so’s book it says you should use more sugar and in so and so’s less so what is the right amount? Eventually we decided it doesn’t matter what they said, we’ve done it this way and it works. It may not be right according to this authority or that, but we know our way works.
Well that’s it for us this year, no more books. There are more books we want to write, about half a dozen actually, but not for a bit. We’ve worked our socks off since last autumn and now it’s time to re-charge the batteries.
There will be additions and alterations to the web sites, but our main plan for the rest of 2009 is to take a holiday (we haven’t had one for 2 years) and catch up on life and the lotty again. No more 12 hour days in front of the computer.