I really thought that writing these posts would keep me more accountable, so I wouldn’t experience exactly the sort of crunch time that is happening right now.
But things happen. Life happens. You spend three weeks emailing cosplay photographers in a quest to find the right photos. You rearrange the chapters. You email twenty or more cosplayers at least to quote them for the book, and then you postpone writing the chapters until you hear back from more, fully aware that you might never hear from them again. (Mine is not the only cosplay book to solicit their opinions this year.)
What happened happened and I’ve found myself in the tight spot of having far less than half of the book written with just three weeks to go. This week’s goals:
Finalize all photography
Communication has been slow because my publisher and I have an eight-hour time difference, plus the cosplay photographers we’re contacting are all over the world. And I have to do a lot of waiting, since I don’t always recognize the cosplay and it isn’t always ID’d on the cosplayer’s website, so I do a lot of back-and-forth “what IS this?” emails.
No matter. This is the week I’ll nail it down. I spent this weekend rifling through more photos than I can count to select the final 300 for the book. I sent it off to my publisher, who will ideally spend the week getting the rights to these photos by negotiating payment and contracts with photographers, leaving me free to forget about them. Well, at least until it’s time to write a caption for every single one.
Write now, edit later
I’ve been putting off writing chapters. First, because I didn’t think the original chapter arrangement I’d conceived (some chapters focusing on genre, others on craftsmanship) truly reflected the cosplay community as a whole. Many thanks to Anna Fischer in helping me right this!
Now that I’ve reordered the sections in a way that feels good to me (now they’re all focusing on a genre, with the final chapter on original costuming), I have two options. I can wait around until I hear back from even a majority of the cosplayers I’ve contacted, or I can start writing now and fill in the quotes later. Each chapter only needs to be 1,000 words, which every high school student knows is maybe an hour’s work at most.
Remember this is just a job
Even in our digital age, there is something magical that happens when you tell people you’re writing a print book. For writerly types, the Book is still the ultimate unattainable artifact. I mention my book coming out this year and their expressions soften a bit. Now the people I admire are starting to ask me for advice on writing proposals.
But anyone who’s been reading these weekly updates knows that this book is not a Book book, it is not my blood, sweat and tears condensed into knowledge over 100 nights, and then granted legitimacy through a book deal. Instead, it happened backwards, a result of the coffee table book cottage industry. A publisher decided that cosplay is hot right now, and then Googled the first writer they could find with cosplay reporting experience.
I have been agonizing over every topic in an attempt to give cosplayers the rich, diverse book that the community deserves. But the truth is, the ultimate cosplay book simply can’t be written in seven weeks. The best I can do is strive to showcase cosplay in a way both fans and outsiders alike can enjoy, and that’s not such a bad goal to set.
Photo by Anna Fischer, you guess the cosplay. After all, that’s the game I’ve been playing all weekend 9_9