A while ago, I signed 30,000 limited editions of House of Dark Shadows and Watcher in the Woods (the first two Dreamhouse books) for Scholastic. You’d think doing the same thing over and over so many times would allow your mind to wander; during the the time I signed, I should have written an entire new Dreamhouse story in my head.
But that’s not the way it worked. I found that a wondering mind led to either really sloppy signatures or slowing down to the point that it’d take a year to finish. So instead, with each signature, I thought about the kid who would read the book, and hoped he or she enjoyed it as much as I did writing it.
I did learn a few things about taking on such a big project:• I signed faster with rocking tunes pounding through my headphones. I especially liked Meatloaf, Phil Keaggy, The Kry, and Bruce Springsteen.• The more I tried to make my signature neat, the sloppier it got.• It’s amazing how different a signature can look when you’re signing so many.
Everything made a difference: whether I was fresh or tired, if my hand was starting to ache or my mind starting to wander, what music I was listening to. Sometimes I would vary my signature just for a break, to keep the boredom at bay. Then, the weirdest thing: A few times I realized I couldn’t remember how to sign my name normally. It was like if you said the same simple word over and over… eventually, it sounds strange and not right. Thankfully, that didn’t happen often or last long.
Here are are some fun facts about 30,000 signatures:
• Laid end-to-end, the books I signed would stretch
• The total length of all those signatures would be over
• My two-word name times 30,000 books, means I handwrote 60,000 words—that’s longer than the longest Dreamhouse Kings book (which is Whirlwind at 57,000 words).
• It takes me 8 seconds to sign my name and prepare for the next signature. That means it’ll take me almost 67 hours of straight signing to finish—80 hours, if I take a ten minute break each hour. That’s two standard work weeks doing nothing but signing my name.
• If it took one second longer to sign each signature, it would add a full day to the project.