Let me tell you a story.
This is a story about a book that took 28 years (YES… YEARS) to become a glossy-covered reality!
In 1986-87 I hand wrote my book in two blank books when I was thirteen years old. Then I typed it up (104 pages typed – with a typewriter) to send out to publishers. I don’t remember how many manuscripts I sent out, but I received 3-4 rejection letters back. The first letter was a Canadian publisher and was quite a nice, supportive letter. The last one was merely a postcard form letter with my name written in the blank.
Young author, Wendy, in Monroe, NC (that’s me in the flowered skirt in front) – sister Laura behind me, and Daddy at the grill!
I quickly lost hope of getting my book published and plummeted into a pit of self loathing for even trying. I burned several pages of my book (the ones I KNEW were horrible), and I cannot thank my younger self enough for NOT burning the whole thing.
In the year 2000 I took a Creative Writing course at my community which turned my writing life around. I needed material to bring in every week for eight weeks of the course, and with a lack of inspiration to write something brand new, I turned to my old manuscript to see if it was worth saving. There were bits of it that I still thought were good, and one chapter that even won an award when I was in high school. I decided to use the course to see if I could turn the book into something I could be proud of.
The course, taught by Debi Bucci, was the best writing course I’ve ever taken – not only because of Debi, but because of all the amazing and gifted writing friends I made through the class. I took this 8-10 week course TWELVE times during a 5-year span, and by the end I had two out of the three books COMPLETED, and learned more about editing my own material than I’d ever learned before – and I say this having graduated with a Minor in Creative Writing from CASE Western Reserve!
CAWG writing group turkey fry gathering (around 2005-ish). Left to right: Craig, Christy, Christine, Alan, and me. Craig’s dog, Tucker, in front wearing the cone of shame.
When our teacher, Debi, decided to move on, I was fortunate enough to be included in a writing group formed by my writing workshop classmates. I continue to meet with most of these people and we call our group CAWG (Cleveland Area Writers Group). Our group still meets monthly at The Coffee House in Cleveland’s University Circle, and I try to make it as often as I can (which has been seldom these past couple years, but not giving up).
Finally in 2012 I discovered NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo as convenient and cost-free resources to motivate me to add to my collection of chapters and to revisit them once more to fine tune and explore how I should actually complete the book(s). I decided I wanted to include illustration and ultimately decided to use loose doodle art in the book to make it look like something I would have scribbled down in my journal when I was twelve.
All along I’ve kept the original humorous and adolescent tone as was originally scribed. That was important to me, to keep it authentic to what the story was originally – a collection of thought-provoking memories by a 12-year-old girl. I was just as thoughtful at age twelve as I am now – I just know a lot more about writing, thank goodness!
My finished cover!
I’ve known for years that self publishing was the way to go for this book. Really, I have to admit… What publisher would say yes to an autobiographical story about a 12-year-old girl who moves from Canada to the States? I’m not interested in trying to morph my story into something a publisher would say yes to.
What I am interested in (and this brings tears to my eyes) is to make Little Wendy’s dream come true. To publish her intimate stories of struggle, and to tell her she doesn’t need a busy editor behind a desk to give her validation that her story deserves to be printed and shared around the world. I love this little girl, Wendy, and I admire her for her courage and gusto to never give up on her dream.
So what was the final “boot in the rear” to getting this book OUT?
Perhaps it is because I’m turning forty soon.
Perhaps it is because I look at my own daughter, age eight, as she also exhibits an interest in writing and passion for books.
Or perhaps it’s because I have a huge pileup of book ideas that I need to get moving on, and this series just HAS to get out the door before I can move forward with the other projects.
Regardless, I’m glad the “boot in the rear” finally came.
Please check out my book website – the platform I set up for the book series. You can order an autographed copy directly from me, a print-on-demand copy from CreateSpace.com, or a Kindle version – links are all on the book website!
If you are a writer who is interested in self publishing your book, feel free to contact me. I am happy to share more about my experience with you! We writers need to stick together! We need to CREATE-A-WAY!!!!
Blessings and YESsings to you!