Friday, 1 April 2016

The Launch

It is said that the road from submission through to publication is a long and arduous one, littered with obstacles. Just how tough it is only came home to me when I decided to take that route.

Imagine you have an interest in racing cars. It’s more than a passing interest, more like an obsession. You eat, sleep and breathe racing cars.

Having watched car racing for years, you dream of designing a racing car, one that will set the track alight, such is its incredible performance.

So, one evening, you start to design a car. Your idea starts to take form and you are pleased that those dreams are now starting to take shape. Satisfied with the theory of your design, you start to build. You take your time, do your research and slowly, very slowly, your dream starts to become a reality.

Soon, a car starts to take shape. You know every nut and bolt, every circuit, every moulding and every working part. You piece it together, modify it, change it and improve it. One day, you start it up. The engine roars into life and takes on a personality of its own. Your chest bursts with pride; your dream is now a reality.

But, you are not finished. What is the point in building a car for it to sit in a garage? It has to be seen, to be driven … and it has to win.

You allow a few, carefully selected, fellow racing-car enthusiasts to have a look over it. They love it. One or two are allowed the extreme privilege of test-driving it. Their praise knows no bounds – this is a brilliant car, it cannot fail, you simply must show it to one of the major racing-car teams.

Fired with enthusiasm, you send your designs, pictures and test data to a few race teams. The response is cool, surprisingly so, given how highly your friends spoke of the car.

You persist. Then, one team writes back to you with an offer to take a look at the car. They want to see it perform on the track.

The day arrives when you deliver your car for assessment. This is your baby, a creature that you conceived and you created. A car that all your friends have raved about. The race team cannot fail to like it.

A week later, a report arrives in your post box. It’s from the manager at the race team. Hands shaking, you open it.

The manager explains that he has looked at your car in some detail, test-driven it and compared it against other similar cars they have recently had on test.

Your car performed quite well. The mechanics liked some of your ideas, but not others. The test drivers also had a few helpful suggestions.

The letter closes with what appears to be fairly encouraging news. You are invited to a meeting to discuss your car.

At the meeting you get to meet the head mechanic and driver. Both like your car and would
like to work with you to bring it up to a standard where it could compete on the track. They explain their opinions in some detail, taking your car apart, piece by piece, giving their expert and experienced opinions on how it could be turned into a winner. Your first reactions are defensive, confused. If it’s such a good car, if they’re interested in taking you on, why does it need so much work doing on it? Will it still be my car, the one I sweated blood to even give them a chance to look at? Why does it need so much work when my friends said it was already race competitive?

Gradually, you come down to their way of thinking. After all, they are the experts and, they ought to know what they are talking about. Secretly, you are thinking to yourself that maybe, just maybe, you might be able to persuade them around to your way of thinking.

And so, you join the team, and you start work with them. Changes are suggested, some of which, you accept, are ideas you hadn’t thought of. Good ideas that you reluctantly accept will improve the car. Other recommendations you resist and sometimes things become heated, there are arguments, but gradually you being to respect these experts and to accept that they do know what they are talking about. In turn, they also cut you some slack, after all, they have been through this before with other car designers.

Finally, the day dawns when the mechanics declare that the car is ready. The drivers test it and they confirm they are also pleased with the result.

You look the car over. You recognise it as yours. It bears a lot of resemblance to your original design but it has improved, and remarkably so. But it is still your car. And you realise that you have just been though a process that all designers must go though, where your brain child meets the ‘professionals’.

And now, you are not on your own. A whole team of people are working on your car. They now share your dream. They design a paint-job for it, produce decals and a colour scheme. They finance its production and sell it to potential sponsors. They invest in it, just as you have.

And then the great day comes. The first day on the track. The day when you are not the only one excited to see ‘your baby’ out in public.

The day of the race.

The day of the book launch.

No comments: