Before I finally took the plunge and sent my manuscript off to She Writes Press for review, I had been peddling my collection of essays around so long that I forgot more than I remembered about my selections. There were some essays I didn’t even remember writing. (But I assumed that I had as they were hanging around in my Word file.) Last August, after a particularly stressful summer, I sent off the whole lot and waited. I didn’t have to wait too long; a little more than a week later I was welcomed to the “family” as a Track 2 author. I didn’t respond right away because I wanted the magic spell I was under to last a little longer. There would be plenty of time to talk about the dos and don’ts, the whens and hows . . . and how muches. For that brief time I wanted to wallow in the fact that I had been identified as an author. By a publisher.
Then it was time to talk details. The aforementioned "stressful summer" included a death in the family, a familial estrangement, and the loss of not one but two jobs (both mine). My dream of getting published looked like it was in danger of being pushed back--again. Without any reserves of confidence or energy, I gave in to the devil on my shoulder whispering, “What makes you think you can do this now?” I shelved it all: the manuscript, the emails, the costs, all of it. I couldn’t bring myself to uncap my USB drive, plug it into the computer and write. I couldn’t write anything at all.
Until January. Way back in September, January was the soonest that I would have had my book published. In January, every time I remembered that my book was supposed to have come out, I scowled. It was even harder when a friend of mine spread word far and wide that his book was now available and was having signings and events to publicize it. Somehow, rather than having a sour grapes response to his excitement and success, it galvanized me. I began writing again, but more importantly, I also gingerly approached my abandoned manuscript; hoping that we were still friends after months of neglect.
And so I began working on it. It helped to get an email from Brooke Warner reminding me that I could pick up where I left off. I had written a blog post about writer’s block and sent it off to my regular email list--a list to which I had added Brooke’s email the previous fall. (Purposefully? Providently? That second one, I think.)
I decided it was my time to make my dream come true. The money was a consideration, but my daughter said to me, “Mom. People spend more than this on a car. Publish your book.” My friend Trudy said, “Do it. Don’t not do it. Do it now.” Or words to that effect. (She’s a writer, too. You can tell.) I signed contracts, socked away money, read and reread my essays. I wrote and rewrote my essays.
I plunged forward. I pleaded for handholding. I held my breath and clicked, “Send” when I sent in my final draft. It came back shredded...at least that’s what I thought at first. I couldn’t look at it, just lying there in a pile where there had once been a book. Luckily, I have the good fortune to have immediate access to Gina Barreca, an exceptional writer and unabashedly supportive friend. She literally (the former, actual definition of literally) responded to me within an hour of my SOS. I was sinking in fear and doubt about the editing and she gave me the best advice (and I paraphrase), “They took you on, trust them.”
And I did. Every time I shuddered about--well, everything--I shushed that devil and flicked him right off of my shoulder. (Because I always picture the devil as a “him.” Doesn’t everyone?) I probably could have thought things through a little more carefully. Wildly clicking “Accept change,” not having a budget, and actually reading the fine print are all things I might have spent more time on, but I am trusting this process. Every person in my life and all the people at She Writes are nothing but sincere and earnest about getting my book published.
That’s what makes me think I can do this now.