Saturday, August 30, 2008

At Last

Yesterday afternoon I took delivery of 15 boxes of books at the church. Almost 12 years ago, one of the saints and I undertook the challenge of writing a history of the church and the community. We were preparing to celebrate the 150th anniversary of them both, and a book seemed a suitable way to honor our heritage. Every week we’d take a morning to do research and write about various events. As people became enthused about this history, we began receiving more information. The project grew. We dug deeper. There were times when it seemed that every time we finished a chapter, someone would give us important new information and we’d have to rewrite it.

Another major project came along and we spent our morning a week working on that instead of the book, stretching the process out several more years. Finally, this past January, I declared it done. It was over my writing partner’s objections, as he kept finding more information he thought we should include. By this time the book contained 12 chapters and 26 appendices (we preserved many of our source documents in the appendices.)

We took it to a local printer in January, hoping to have them back for a heritage celebration in March. But then the editing process began. By the time we were proof reading it for the 4th time, I decided we’d just check to make sure the corrections had been made and not look for anymore errors. We had begun taking orders, and I began getting phone calls wanting to know when the book would be shipped. I told people that like the whole process, the final editing and printing was taking more time than we had an anticipated, but we weren’t going to rush the project now.

Then the printer began having problems. The book had grown to well over 200 pages, and his equipment couldn’t bind a book that thick. He sent it out to be bound, and the paper he had chosen for the cover wouldn’t stick to the glue. I wasn’t concerned, as the delays were no longer my doing, but other people were growing increasingly stressed and impatient. Some seemed to think the world would end if we didn’t have it in time for the Big Event this Sunday. I remained unconcerned, and somewhat amused by all the delays. I told the printer I was so relieved that the stress was on him that I wasn’t too concerned about when it got done.

The phone call that the book was done came yesterday morning. I’m sure word was all over the county by yesterday evening. One woman is sure we’ll sell out our 300 copies in no time and have to reorder. I have a copy of the book sitting here beside me. I am going to wait several years to read it, as I don’t want to find any errors we missed. When I announce that it is available for sale Sunday morning, I will assure people that I know there are still errors and typos, but ask that they talk about them among themselves, and not point them out to the two of us who labored over this book for so long. It truly was a labor of love, and I’m glad I was able to be involved with it. I don’t think I’ll ever volunteer to write the history of a congregation again, though.

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