I’m going to have to disagree with Mr Gump. Life isn’t like a box of chocolates. They come with a guide so you can avoid the fillings you don’t like – and there’s plenty I don’t like. No, the wonderful thing about life is that we never really know what’s around the corner. When I gave up my job in the City over 10 years’ ago now, I didn’t know what I would do but was excited by the prospect of getting well out of my comfort zone. I feel I’ve finally arrived.
working having great fun on a newish project. Earlier this year, while skimming my Twitter timeline, I caught sight of a delightful painting. It was by an artist called Greig Leach, based in Richmond Virginia, the official artist for next year’s World Road Race Championships. I contacted him and asked if I could interview him for VeloVoices where we’re mightily keen on posters, paintings and photographs of cycling and cyclists. He agreed.
The picture that had caught my eye was one of his postcard-sized water colour and ink paintings. He produces a series of these during the year’s major races. I bought one of Peter Sagan’s (Cannondale) stage win into Montpellier in last year’s Tour de France and gave it to him for being voted VeloVoices Rider 2013. The picture now hangs in his entrance hall.
Throughout the season, wherever possible, I’ve used these postcard-sized paintings to illustrate articles and frequently attach them to my Twitter and Facebook posts. Before the start of this year’s Tour, Greig approached me with a proposition. He wanted to turn his paintings of the Tour into a coffee table book. He was going to raise the necessary cash on the crowd-funding site, KickStarter, following the template of a friend who’d successfully financed a similar project. Would I edit the book?
I’ve never done anything like this before but that didn’t deter me. My blogposts for VeloVoices are expertly edited by one of our three main writers. No one edits these posts but then they’re just ramblings intended for friends and family. I often come back for a quick tidy up a week or so after I’ve posted. It is, of course, always easier to spots the errors of others. I should add that as an accountant I’ve proof-read many sets of accounts and, when I worked in investment banking, many legal documents. Editing’s a rather more skilled proposition.
Of course, I readily agreed. Who wouldn’t? I also helped publicise the project. I was advised to “bother the crap out of everyone you know!” Wise words. I took that advice to heart and pestered everyone I knew and lots I don’t. All in a good cause you understand.
Crowd-funding sites advise that projects which raise at least 30% of the required funds in their first week-end are more likely to be successful. We had barely raised 5%. But our target audience was watching a gripping Tour de France, with more highs and lows than the Alps. It all came together in the last week of fundraising, the week after the Tour finished!
As an editor, it’s rather tempting to superimpose what you might have written but you shouldn’t. It’s not your tale to tell. Of course, it should be error free even though it’s written in a language not your own – American English. I won’t pretend it hasn’t been a challenge. I have cast my eagle eye over everything. And, I do mean everything. I have even checked that the racing numbers on the back of the jerseys correspond to the riders named in the narrative.
It’s only when you undertake such an exercise that you realise how many errors there are on most websites. You need to establish creditable reference points. Greig takes his Tour feed from NBC where the commentators are the much-revered pairing of Liggett and Sherwen. Please don’t believe everything they tell you. I could find no substance for a number of their claims in my large library of Tour reference books. It’s painstaking work and surprisingly time-consuming but then I’ve been on a steep learning curve and have gained plenty from the process.
The book is taking shape. Of course, it is all about the paintings but I want the narrative to do them justice. I’ve also had to bear in mind that while Grieg and I are fans of the sport, it’ll be bought and read by some that are not. Just how much do you need to explain? More than you might imagine but not too much that it becomes tedious.
We’re on a tight schedule, the book is due shortly at the printers for its first blue-lined draft. We want that draft to be perfect – corrections cost money. The printed copies will roll off the presses at the beginning of November – just in time for Christmas. It’ll be the perfect gift for art-lovers, art-loving cyclists, cycling fans, cyclists and anyone else you know.
My work doesn’t stop there. I rashly promised Greig I’d get some signed by the Tour winner and he included this carrot in some of his crowd-funding incentive packages.
In recent days we’ve heard that the book is going to the prestigious Frankfurt Book Fair. I’ve had to provide the publisher with a picture (cringe) and potted bio where I failed dismally to make myself suited to the job of editor.
Of course, we need to generate as many sales as possible in the window before the next Tour and I’m hoping that this will just be the start of Greig’s production line. Next up the Giro d’Italia, then the Vuelta a Espana, The Cycling Season and………………….
Don’t forget to pre-order your copy of Book de Tour here!