Welcome to the launch of the KaBooM Writing Collective blog! This is the latest project of our writing group, and we hope it will offer a connection with other writers and writers groups. We’ll be sharing news about what we’re doing in our meetings, what we’re reading, what kind of projects we’re working on, and whatever else comes to mind. Our group has seven members, and you’ll be hearing from all of us.
For the past several weeks we’ve been focused on the publication of our anthology, When the Bough Breaks, which will be out on September 10. For this post I’ll share with you some of the steps in physically making the book, a process we’ve felt privileged to be part of.
We thought we were intimately acquainted with our book when we finished writing and revising it. We had pored over every line until the day it went to the printer. But with this publishing project designed as a hands-on venture, we were just starting a new chapter, so to speak. We were about to experience a whole new level of knowing a book.
When the printed pages were delivered, our first task was to transform a roomful of boxes filled with paper into the recognizable innards of a book. There are many reasons to work with a writing group, and getting that job done was one of them. We collated the individual pages into six separate signatures, which are the small sections put together as if they comprised their own little book. They are later stacked and bound together to form the complete volume. That was a day spent with pages spread out on large tables, telling stories and trying not to lose count as we put boxes and boxes of paper in order. When the collating was complete, then the signatures assembled into books, we were ready to sew.
Needle and thread are rarely part of bookbinding these days, which perhaps earns When the Bough Breaks distinction as a rare book! In this print-on-demand era, we have found great satisfaction (along with a few needle-pricks) in sewing our books together the old-fashioned way. We learned this skill from Leslie Shane at Larkspur Press, where our book is bound by hand and the cover printed on a traditional letterpress.
We learned new words as we learned to sew a binding! I know what you’re thinking . . . but no, not the four-letter kind. We already knew those. Paper awl was new to me though, and the best was “orts.” They’re the scraps trimmed from the binding thread. Here’s a picture of some of the tools we use, resting on the base of a sewing frame.
In the sewing, the first signature is stitched together, then the next placed on top of it and attached with the same thread. The stitches made around the binding tape hold all the signatures in place while they’re being sewn. As the final signature is added, a lovely bit of needlework called the butterfly stitch is used to cinch the threads together and tighten the binding. Here’s what it looks like on the frame.
We’ll have bound books available later this week, but I’ll let you in on a secret. We’re still sewing.