Revamping the archives

Et Cetera

The very few people stopping by have surely noticed the lack of activity in this place. Lack of activity on the surface doesn’t necessarily mean there’s nothing going on underneath. Actually, there are a lot of projects I’m working on for Quillink Press, but I still haven’t found the time to use this blog properly to talk about them, apart from quick mentions on the Status Log.

The problems with reviving old projects

As you probably have read in the page about Quillink Press history, the project started in late 1992 — early 1993 and was basically abandoned somewhere around 1997 or perhaps 1998. I decided to revive it last year because I noticed that all my recent writings (from 2003 on, and from 2005 on just considering my online contributions) were getting scattered and somewhat disorganised. I needed a brand, so to speak, and I thought that the best solution was to revive my old ‘self-publishing house’ name and start two processes:

  1. Reuniting — at least visually for now — everything I’m publishing online in all my diverse blogs, in English and Italian. In the future, I’d really like to reunite all that material in a single place, or at least in fewer places than now. I feel I’m dispersing my writings too much, and those who (try to) follow me might not have a complete idea of my identity as an author, but only partial pictures and information, depending on their points of entry (that WordPress blog, that tumblelog, that Flickr stream, etc.)
  2. Re-publishing the old catalogue, at least in part and at least picking the best works from the archives: this means poems, short stories, selected journal entries, literary translation works.

Number 2 above is the core of the problem. I have a lot of material to retrieve and republish (I was very, very prolific during the years 1991–2000). I have written at least 40 collections of poems and more than 50 short stories, 2 novels and a short experimental novel. Most of this material is either digitally archived but in old formats (in another life I was a Windows guy, at least at home, so a great lot of booklets are archived on Microsoft Publisher 2.0 .pub files) or exists only in manuscript or typescript. Some of this not only has to be re-typed and inserted in a computer, but also translated (I want to make available my best works in English as well). And the booklets in MS Publisher format have to be converted in something more modern — and that doesn’t involve Microsoft anymore, of course.

A daunting task, you say? You speak in euphemisms.

Extract and recreate

You’ll think I was a madman for using Publisher 2.0 under Windows 3.1 as a home-brew Desktop Publishing solution. Why not a Macintosh, why not PageMaker or Quark XPress? Believe it or not, in the early 1990s I used Macintoshes at work and Windows PCs at home; I would have loved to use the same Macintosh setup I used at work and when collaborating with graphic design and advertising agencies, but it was way too expensive for me. So I worked with the limited tools I had, and managed to impress people anyway.

But another crazy thing is that the major chunk of those works are all archived on 3.5″ floppies. Luckily enough I managed to set up a workstation (a vintage Toshiba PC, my trusty HP LaserJet 4L printer) where I can view all the past projects I want to republish. The process therefore is:

  1. Viewing and selecting projects
  2. Reprinting them to have a physical idea of the book design
  3. Extracting the text, keeping notes about fonts and formatting
  4. Creating a similar design (or, more often, an entirely new one) with up-to-date tools

This is why the overall revamping process is taking so long. Also, I’m doing it in my spare time, since I’m not getting paid for this. But I’m willing to reorganise and fully revive the Quillink idea because writing is what I do best, and I realised I haven’t been able to properly promote my work in all these years and reach a wider audience.

The Author

Writer. Translator. Mac consultant. Enthusiast photographer. • If you like what I write, please consider supporting my writing by purchasing my short stories, Minigrooves or by making a donation. Thank you!