Every previous move in my life has been simple and painless: In the past I simply called up some movers, who'd pack up my stuff and drive it in a truck to the next place, and then unpack. Finis! But this time is different, and in a horrible way. We're lucky that we live in a nice house in a seller's market. But, as our real estate agent sternly explained after touring the property, the Market here has certain expectations. In particular, the Market expects this type of home to be updated, pristine and uncluttered. The opposite, that is to say, of its current condition.
To meet the Market's fussy demands, we're using a Roman legion of professionals to whip our house into shape. The first legionnaire to arrive was a landscape architect, who drew up plans to Update our plantings. He even ordered us to replant our neighbor's side garden, which flanks the walkway to our front door. (The Market evidently demands an attractive approach to front entrances.) Our neighbors seemed pleased, if slightly confused, by our sudden offer to replace their weedy garden strip with lucious ferns and impatiens. (These neighbors have lived in the same house for more than 20 years; obviously they haven't heard the news about Updating.)
We did a pre-inspection review (which gives the Market confidence that you're not trying to sell it a lemon). The inspection report revealed a number of flaws that needed to be fixed, mostly because safety codes have been Updated during the eleven years we've lived here. The required repairs (which included a new roof) are being made by a rotating cast of contractors, workers, handymen, and a friend of ours named Dave who somehow got sucked into the vortex. There were so many guys tromping through the house at one point that I lost track of who was doing what, or even who they were. As long as they were carrying tools and didn't appear to be conducting a home invasion robbery, I simply gave them all cheerful waves and tried to stay out of their way.
Next came the Updating of the house's cosmetics. This phase is being driven by Miriam, an interior designer. Miriam has been selecting Things That Can Stay during the showing of the house, and separating them from Things That Must Go. Everything that doesn't make the cut will be sold, donated, or moved temporarily into giant metal pods. Miriam is daubing the walls with sample swatches of paint, plus purchasing a few select items that will Update our decor. These purchases are mostly things like colorful pillows, a rug, and timers for the lights. (The Market expects a house to be brightly lit at all times.) Our kitchen is about to become something called "two-tone," which I didn't even know was a trend. Miriam is constantly moving stuff around to "stage" things properly. One candleabra has moved its position about so many times, I could swear we've picked up a poltergeist.
Miriam came as part of a package deal with a professional organizer named Heidi. Heidi manages her own crew of assistants. Heidi, a high-energy, smiling refugee from the corporate world, makes her living helping people like us get through complex projects such as Updating. (I'm sure Heidi doesn't help people like Clare, because people like Clare are obviously well-organized, competent, and resourceful. They don't need a Heidi.)
Heidi set up timelines for our "project," and keeps an impressive spreadsheet up to date. She is researching and marketing excess items that are too expensive to sell on Craigslist or in a garage sale. For example: Heidi discovered that a set of my dad's old office chairs are Swedish-designer things worth about $1500-$2500 each. Which means I should call them "vintage" chairs rather than old, I guess. Bottom line: one has to be careful when getting rid of anything that comes from my family, especially funky old office chairs.
Watching over all this chaos from a strategic distance is our real estate agent, who made it clear from the beginning that she'd prefer to sell our house empty rather than with us still living in it. I have to say I'm beginning to agree with her. It would be so much easier if we could move everything into pods, check into someplace temporarily, let the professionals do their thing, and be done with the whole mess. Then we could forget about things like colored throw pillows and editing furniture, at least until we find a new house, when I guess the process kicks into reverse and starts up all over again. But my husband has vetoed moving out early as an option. So I'm coping as best I can. F. Scott Fitzgerald captured my state of mind brilliantly in the last line of The Great Gatsby:
“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
The writing connection
I'll bring this discussion back to writing. The publishing industry, as we all know, has been changing at a rapid clip. Indie publishing is in vogue, and longtime readers know that TKZ has a wealth of useful information about indie publishing in its archives. I've watched my colleagues step forth bravely into the new world, but I've yet to take the plunge. I'll get there at some point, but I think I'd like to work with a project manager to get through the process, at least the first time out. I'll need a project manager for indie publishing for the same reason I need Heidi the Project Manager for moving and selling our house--I don't like dealing with the details of process. It isn't my strong suit. I want there to be someone professional and trustworthy who can steer me through the whole thing. That person would 1) find a great cover designer for my new book, 2) direct me to a line editor, 3) format my manuscript, and 4) upload it to the appropriate outlets. Basically, I would pay this person to manage my indie publishing project, in the same way I pay Heidi to manage our moving project, or an accountant to manage my taxes. Does such a person or entity exist, or is a market being created? Because I'm one of those people who wants someone else to manage the nitty gritty process details, I'm nervous about falling into the hands of the sharks that prowl the indie waters. I certainly don't want to pay a lot of money and be dissatisfied with the results.
I know we've talked endlessly about the how-to's of indie publishing here at TKZ, but I'm wondering if there's a solution for process-phobic people like me. Of course, the ideal solution would be for me to absorb all the good information we discuss here and learn how to master the process myself, but it might not ever happen. Just ask Heidi.