Tuesday, 24 May 2022

Sharing Our Heritage

Sharing Our Heritage is a 100-page, full-colour history book written by four authors in five months. I can't begin to count how many zoom meetings it took but it's done now and it's going to the printers this week. Halfway through the writing process I bought a bottle of Optrex eye lotion. It was the first time I'd needed Optrex since I did my first degree in 1979. The biggest strain on my eyes was from the proofing process. How many times can a piece be read and yet still contain errors? It baffles me.

The four of us are still friends in spite of everything. 'Everything' includes:

  • screens that froze and links that failed
  • disagreements over initial capitals and commas (I may have developed an aversion to commas. I now twitch each time I use one - rather like the psychiatrist in the original Pink Panther movie.)
  • four completely different versions of a chapter that each of us have edited and insist on discussing during a zoom
  • what to include and what to miss out 
  • and, even more problematic, what names to include

As I explained in my last post, there was a reason for writing a history book in such a hurry. The synagogue in Leicester has had an extension and rebuild thanks to a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant. The year before Covid a few of us worked on a timeline depicting the history of the congregation for the wall of one of the rooms in the new Heritage Centre. During the research process it became apparent that the congregation was quite a bit older than had previously been thought. This meant that earlier publications were incorrect. 

Have you ever made a promise that your mouth is totally confident about, but your head is screaming, 'Don't do it!' Well that was me five months ago. I announced that we would be able to produce a brand new history book in time for the official opening of the Centre. There were friends who assured me that it was not possible to write a book in five months but that made me all the more determined. I obtained quotes from both printer and book designer, I organised weekly zoom meetings, created and stuck to a tight schedule of work, and the rest (if you'll pardon the expression) is history. 

Here is the back cover blurb:

Sharing Our Heritage is a book written by four people with one voice. They have pooled a wealth of research and personal experience to produce this inspiring history of the Leicester Hebrew Congregation. It takes the reader from the excitement of a new Heritage Centre, back in time to the early 1800s, charting two centuries of the LHC’s rich history, with many fluctuations in fortune along the way. It illustrates the spirit that lives within the LHC, a spirit that has enabled the congregation to survive when other provincial Jewish congregations have not.

And here is the front cover (author names are in alphabetical order):

What I need to do now is to open up my folder called 'poetry work in progress', stick my creative head on once more and get back to building up my poetry portfolio. Although I may just have a bit of a nap first.