Hello loves! I promised I would blog about my publishing experience, so here’s the first installment. I’ll try to post updates as often as possible. I had the pleasure of meeting my publisher this weekend over lunch. I felt so special listening to them tell me how excited they were to work with me. Many of the elements of my book I considered missteps were, for them, what made the book genuine, what gave the book structure, and what allowed them to hear my voice. Anyone who has heard me complain about the difficulties of finishing my book knows finding my voice was something I often struggled with. To hear them say they heard me and I sound like Laurie, not like any other writer, but Laurie, justified all of those late nights and early mornings, all of those eight-hour treks to VCFA, all of those packets going out the day they were due, all of those anguished phone calls and yahoo messages with my writing homies (Christy, Corrine, Betty, Mark, and Anthony, I’m talking about you :-)) and my reading homies (Jae, Trisha, and Jennifer, you know what I’m talking about :-)) trying see if they could hear my voice better than I could. Hearing a publisher essentially say you gave it and we got it, I believe, is what every writer strives for. We just want to be gotten! This whole experience has been surreal. From the acceptance phone call to the wonderful reception I’ve received from Etruscan, I am so humbled, so hopeful, and so very nervous. I’ve been reciting the following Lao Tzu quote in order to calm my nerves: “If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.”
Reciting those words centers me and allows me to enjoy what is proving to be an exciting journey. As I sat at the table with three of the nicest people I’ve ever met, three people who love literature so much they’ve given much of themselves to it, I felt honored to be joining their family. I was present and I felt peace.
When I allowed myself to think that this could actually happen, I prayed I would find a publisher that would “get” me. I used to say, “If they’re just willing to work with me a little, I will not let them down. I will be the James Brown of memoir.” I kept thinking, my publisher is out there, waiting for me, just as I am waiting for them. I listed the things I wanted them to be involved in, like community service, and the things I hoped they’d be able to teach me about publishing, about marketing, about writing. Etruscan is all that I imagined and more. They are the publisher I was meant to have. I say all of this to say many of us writerly types hope to land that big publishing contract with the large advance and a New York address, but most of us forget that we also need to find a publisher that believes in us and our stories. We need a publisher willing to nurture us as we are all still so vulnerable in this writing and publishing thing. Publishers are so selective that we forget we need to be selective ourselves. We need a publisher that “gets us” and one that we “get.” We don’t just need any publisher; we need the publisher intended to help nurture us through this process. As I sat at lunch with those funny, generous, dedicated folk, I realized they weren’t just investing in my book, they were investing in me, and they wanted to “get” that woman behind the little girl on the page.
Every rejection from a journal, magazine, publisher, or agent hurts. Those rejections can make a beautiful day the worst day. With each rejection I received, I offered a “thank you” to God and the Universe. I was thankful on that day I hadn’t been placed with the wrong publisher. If they didn’t see what I knew was in my manuscript, then that was a clear indication they were not the publisher I needed to be working with. That thinking was not a slight against the publishers or agents that said “no,” but it was a confirmation that every “yes” is not really a “yes.” Sometimes, the wrong “yes” is standing in the way of what is truly for you. A “no” can be the clearing of things, a cleaning of house that helps you see and helps you prepare for the “yes” originally intended for you. This is true of writing and life.
As promised, I’m going to give you all a tip or two that might help you as you work to publish your manuscripts. These are some tips I wish I had known while drafting my manuscript. I hope they help as you all continue to push forward to your intended “yes!” My tip for today is page breaks. I never knew I needed to add page breaks between all of my chapters. What a chore going back and putting those buggers in. So, page break those chapters people! You’ll be happy you did once your publisher asks for your formatted manuscript.
Love to you all in each of your endeavors!