Tuesday, January 12, 2010

My Life as a Writer

I have spent many years writing poetry and stories. I have dreamed of publishing one or more of my stories so I can share them everyone. I have always been afraid to take the next step to have them published. It seemed too daunting of a task for me. I like to take the creative road in life. I don’t care for the business side of things. Even while teaching, I love interacting, inspiring and taking care of my students. I did not like the paperwork and administrative things that went along with it. It’s not that I don’t like or respect hard work because I think I have great work ethic. My parents taught me that. Nothing is free and work hard for what you have or want or need. I just like to live life to the fullest. I like to stop and smell the flowers and appreciate the beauty of things. I read many books and websites about how to publish a story and I did not know where to begin. I even tried to find people to do it for me. Then, I felt guilty because I should be working hard to have it published. I also think I was afraid no one would like my stories. I tried to tell myself that if they don’t like them, send them to someone else. Fear of the unknown placed my stories back into the manila folder deep in my file cabinet only to be shared by a curious friend or family member.
Then, I found an old friend, Michael, who just published his first book. This was my chance to find out what it takes to get published and show my excitement for the accomplishment of a fellow writer and friend. I shared my stories with him. He liked my stories enough to tell his publisher to at least take a look at them. Now I was really nervous. When I spoke to his publisher, Marian, on the phone, quite frankly, I thought I would throw up right there. It felt like an interview.
Now my agent, financial advisor and husband all in one (who occasionally refers to himself as “the driver”) went into business mode. “Don’t trust anyone. We must get your books Copyrighted and your ideas Trademarked before you send them.” See, I trust everyone and give everyone the benefit of the doubt. That is how you get burned. So off to the lawyer. Shelled out some money and protected my books and ideas.
Now I could send her my stuff. I sent it fearing I didn’t format it right. Is this school all over again? Oooh, this is what they were saying in school, “when you get out in the real world, you need to know this stuff.” Sure we thought. Heh, heh. Sorry Mrs. Stephan.
All manuscripts should be formatted as follows:
  • 12 point, Times New Roman (I like fancier font-not business-like)
  • Double spaced
  • A header which includes the following: Title/AuthorName/Word Count and Page # (Ooo, is that the title I want or that she’ll like? Word count? Just the story or the title too or everything on the page? Darn it, how do I get the page number on again?)
  • A Microsoft Word document (Great, I have an IMac. Will she be able to open it?)
There, done. Press send....press send....uhhhh... is it right? 1, 2, 3 , send! Its out there in cyber space. It’s speeding through cyber space at the speed of light. Within 30 seconds she has it. And then- an email from her! Already? Oh gosh. What would she have to say already? Open. She couldn’t open it. Ugh. Now what? So after a couple of attempts, it worked. Then....nothing for weeks. Torture. My husband asked me if I was expecting a “Ralphie” moment from The Christmas Story. “Oh, the theme I have been waiting for all my life. Listen to this sentence.... Poetry! Scheer poetry! Ralphie, A+++++ “ Well, maybe I was hoping for a bit of that. You know what? That is what your family is for, right? “Oh, honey, it’s brilliant...” “Mooommmy, your the best.”
So I waited patiently impatiently and soon the email came... the one I had been waiting for...the email saying, “We are sooo sorry we kept you waiting. Brilliant! We need you to publish your book with us!” Um, not what it said. She wanted to see a couple more stories in the series. Ugh. So, I sent her two more. She wanted one more but I didn’t know which one would she like best? I sent them both. And waited. Again, no “Ralphie” moment.
Finally, I heard from Marian. She wanted to have a meeting about my stories, specifically Just Because. She took the heavier one. It is a tear jerker. At least for me it is. Now my nerves are racing again. My husband, Paul, went with me to a nice house in a pleasant neighborhood. It was a very comfortable meeting. We found that we all had so much in common. We share many of the same values and life expectations. We hit it off famously. I feel like this is where I should be. Nelson Publishing has high standards and a commitment to their authors. Marian seems like a sincere and passionate woman. She has a mission in life to make a difference. My husband, Paul and I left with a feeling that this is the right place. This meeting was meant to see if we were a fit with the philosophy of Nelson Publishing. It didn’t take long to figure that out. We have a date for the 25 of January to talk about the contract and next steps. I don’t have a grasp on it yet but I am going to go with the flow. I do believe God has a plan for me and my books. I am going to flow with it and not get disappointed if it doesn’t go my way and wait for the other way.
Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.

1 comment:

Jennifer Haas said...

What an awesome story!!! I have read a your posts we seem to have a lot in common.