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GUEST COLUMN
PITTSFIELD THEN AND NOW
ADVENTURES IN WRITING
By Jane Woodruff

Continued from Home Page.
Marvel. Grammarly. Dropbox. CreateSpace. These previously unknown terms would become oh so familiar as I embarked on a year-long journey to put together a book to showcase my hometown of Pittsfield on the eve of its bicentennial.
Contacting over 200 businesses, schools, clubs and churches, I sought community folks willing to write about their organizations. In the end, over 175 people would contribute their writing, their art, and their photos to help provide a snapshot of Pittsfield as it is today in the context of its history.
I would learn I could use Marvel, our State’s Digital Library, to find and access articles written in the past 30 years by our local reporters. I would find that Grammarly, a free app, would pick up spelling and grammar errors that I had missed. I was amazed that after decades and decades of being an avid reader that I really didn’t know the bones of a book – what came where, the difference between a preface and an introduction, and that there were so many parts. How could this be? I discovered that in trying to clean a memory stick to back-up photos, you can inadvertently clear your desktop, and I’m not talking about furniture! While I lost my Picasa with over 10,000 photos, I learned that I could access 8,500 of them through Snapfish where I had printed so many of them over the years.

Jane Woodruff (left) and Barbara Denaro.
Fortunately, my husband recovered our email accounts so I could once again access those photos sent to me by the many contributors. Another free app, Dropbox, ensured that I wouldn’t lose all the documents that had already been written and submitted. Editing was simplified by alternately sending documents to Norman Clarke and Brenda Seekins for their review.
CreateSpace was another matter. This free way to self-publish on-demand seemed overwhelming at the end of a year-long quest of writing and getting others to join me. I was most fortunate to enlist the help of Yvonne Blake of Polliwog Pages who loaded and formatted the documents into CreateSpace. Sending off all the chapters to her, I felt a sense of relief, because someone else now had them on their computer as well. With over 300 photos in the documents, formatting the pages to fit into the CreateSpace template was a daunting task.
For a barely-computer-literate like myself, I was most fortunate to be able to hand over the designing of the cover to someone; not only was she computer savvy, but someone with a designer’s eye – Barbara Denaro. She was able to use one of Mark Schumpert’s stunning photos and transform it into a pleasing book cover.
When the proofs came in, I reluctantly opened the carton, not knowing what I’d find. Paper quality? Good. Color? Good. Printing? Good. With a sense of relief, I passed copies to Norman Clarke and Douglas Fernald for proofing. Funny how you can miss errors, even with 2-3 people viewing the writings. So, with a lengthy list of corrections to be made, Yvonne was back at work on the book with CreateSpace. Having nearly completed this task but not yet having backed-up the document, Yvonne related a near disaster that had occurred. Somehow, some water was spilled on her laptop and, most fortunately, her husband, using his air compressor, was able to restore the completed work. All was saved! So off to CreateSpace again for more copies to be printed. Pittsfield – Then & Now is ready for the public’s view. It is available at Amazon and locally at Pittsfield's Bud’s Shop ‘N Save. This book presents our town as we see it … a good place to call home.