The Project That Just Won't Quit

I wouldn’t call it The Project From Hell, not by a long shot. No, this personal project I’m trying to finish as a test run of’s on-line Print-On-Demand (POD) publishing services is more aptly named “The Project That Just Won't Quit.”

The final result, The Albuquerque Years, will be the culmination of my very first lifestory writing adventure, the story of my preschool years, begun over ten years ago. As I explain in The Heart and Craft of Lifestory Writing, I began writing this story as a whim, to be able to share my own experience as a very little girl with my then preschool-age grandchildren. I simply sat down at the computer and did a memory dump, in a haphazard fashion, without much order or thought.

Toward the end, I decided I wanted to include photos, lots of photos. At that point, WordPerfect stalled out on files with more than a few photos, so the story began breaking up into a vast array of pieces. In frustration, put it away to deal with later.

A few months ago, I became embarrassed about the fact that I, of all people, have not completed a single finished volume with a legacy of my own lifestories. I pulled out The Albuquerque Years project, determined to see it through to print. OpenOffice and Word are up to the challenge now, and Lulu presents a way of having it professionally printed and bound at an astonishingly affordable cost.

As I launched into what I thought would be a couple of days of final touches, I was chagrined to discover that I’d only told, at most, half the story. Over the course of a few weeks, I’ve doubled the length to 76 pages in Lulu’s Crown Quarto page size (7.44 x 9.68 in.), organized the stories to flow more smoothly, added several details, and inserted over forty photos. I converted the file to a PDF, after wading through Lulu’s occasionally conflicting instructions. (The live chat function works splendidly for clearing up any confusion.) I’ve almost finished a cover design.

At the last minute, I decided to add an Afterward to give background on the project and explain the process of setting it all up to work with Lulu. Perhaps future generations will appreciate this insight, and it will certainly be helpful to anyone today who wants to use Lulu for their own story albums. I’d hoped to announce a couple of days ago on the blog here that the upload had succeeded. Maybe tomorrow.
The morals of this story:
  • There’s lots more to do to complete a published project after you finish the writing. Things always take twice as long as you anticipate.
  • There is always something else to be done when you are getting a book finalized, whether it’s a commercial publication or something as private and personal as this project.
But it’s not the Project From Hell. It’s more like my flesh-and-blood offspring, who all took at least an extra week to grow to completion. But they all three arrived, strong and healthy, and so will this book! Persistence will ultimately prevail.

Write on,

Sharon Lippincott, aka Ritergal


Solveig Haugland said...


I'm glad to see Lulu now (or always has?) had a roughly 7.5 x 9.5 book size. I always missed it before, or hadn't checked recently.

Thanks for mentioning! It's much less crash-happy than Word when there are lots of graphics involved (even better of course to link to the graphics in this situation). And the PDF production is a nice feature if one doesn't have Distiller.


Ritergal said...

I'm a devoted fan of OpenOffice, and I switched to using it as my default word processing program on January 1 of this year. I highly recommend it to anyone. It's free, reliable, and includes a full "professional" suite of products.

Did you get that part about it being free? How does that compare with the price of Micro$oft products?

You can download it from

ybonesy said...

I love the feeling when I am so passionate about a project that I can't stop and that the project takes me with it versus the other way around. I hope you'll post excerpts here. Or will you post it in its entirety?