✱ How Does it Feel? / by Evan Troxel

I can't even begin to tell you how cathartic it is to hold my book in my own hands. I set on a journey at the end of 2015 to write what I thought was going to be a series of blog posts but found out along the way that the writing had other plans of its own. It became apparent it needed to be a singular thing, and it had to be done in a way that was different than I had done before.

I like to choose new tools and mediums to share what I know, and for this project it made sense to do it in a single volume. Even once I began, I originally had plans to simply create an eBook, but making something physical holds much more meaning to me—this is why holding it in my own hands is so important. I made this thing.

Of course this project was much more difficult than I thought it was going to be. I've written many things in my life, but nothing like this. Whenever I try something completely new, there is a naïveté that comes along with it. Where this came into play was when I was trying to will myself to finish the project. I had been working on the book for many months, a little chunk each day, slowly chipping away at the writing and the editing. It got old. 

But the things I learned when taking the ARE, and then writing a book about that process of figuring out how to make the time in my life to do it, are exactly the same skills I used to finish ARE Hacks. In other words, what I learned by taking and finishing the ARE is the same thing I used to accomplish this other huge project. And that's how I know my strategies work—because I've used them for more than one thing. Cool.

This gets me to how great it feels to be done, and to have a real thing I can hold in my hands as the product of my work. As I wrote earlier, my original plan was to write an eBook, which I obviously can't hold in my hands (unless you count the device it's viewed on the thing the reader holds in their hands, and to me that doesn't count). Creating physical objects is something fewer and fewer people are doing these days in an age where knowledge work is highly valued. Yet to me making something tangible is so much more valuable. It's easy to critique something (like a book) that we see hundreds if not thousands of every day, but to actually make one brings my appreciation to another level.

So how does it feel? Allow me to answer in two ways: First, IT'S REAL. It's not a bunch of bits and bytes arranged on a screen. It's paper that comes from living things. The cover feels amazing and it makes me smile when I touch it. The cover the graphics are printed on has a great tooth to it. And the book smells like a book. It's awesome. I can flips through real pages, I can fold the corners, and I can write in it with my fountain pen. Second, it feels fantastic in a personal accomplishment kind of way. I never thought I would really like being an author, but I do. I don't know many other writers. It's different, and I like it.

Today I shipped out several signed copies to new friends. I was writing personal messages inside, and it was all kinds of surreal. It's something I never thought I would be doing. It's a new way for me to connect with, motivate, and inspire people, and I like that aspect of it.

Creating ARE Hacks has been an experiment in putting my art out into the world in a new way. I've done it before with my architecture, my music, and my podcast. I encourage all of you to do the same. Write something; build something; make something real. Put it out into the world for others. Get out from behind your monitor and share your art.