Today I clicked the ‘send’ button for a client. Then I hugged him. I’ve shepherded my first memoir project through rough draft to submission. It was especially fun because we worked on the manuscript at his restaurant, Carmelita’s. It’s one of my favorites. We met nearly every Monday morning over several months, gravitating to the table in the dining room where I usually sit as a patron. The restaurant is closed on Mondays in the winter. If we forgot to lock the door, customers walked in looking for food.
Now that it’s spring, Carmelita’s is open every day. Sometimes Jerry has to get up to tend to the kitchen or whatever other chore requires immediate action. My third novel is going to be about restaurants. As a poor freelancer I worked in many restaurants to make ends meet. The start-up noises are nostalgic: ice being scooped into coolers, morning shift waitress banter, the smell of bathroom disinfectant mingled with fresh-brewed Bunn-O-Matic coffee. Jerry says I can work some shifts when I kick the book into gear. I’ll need to resurrect all those sights, smells and sounds.
He told me, when we first discussed his book, that it was ready for publication. He believed that “One of Mine” just needed a once-over. He mostly wanted advice on where and how to send it to publishers.
The biggest accomplishment is that Jerry wrote the story. There were times when he felt that should have been enough. He was continually amazed at the level of work required during the editing and revision process. He often asked himself why he felt the need to write the book in the first place.
The story, full of hippies and road trips, driven by the beat of the ‘60s-‘70s rock-and-roll counterculture, is shocking, funny and memorable. But the structure of the book needed work. We pulled in more research. He dug deeper into his archives. He questioned, but never complained. He had a strong vision of how he wanted to tell this part of his life story. The bottom line is that he wanted the book to be good. And as long as he’d come this far, he figured he’d stay in it for the long haul. So we kept at it.
Cue the applause.
The next phase of the journey toward publication begins today.
Jerry is going for a publisher. Doing the queries. He knows it takes time. He knows that at any time he can put it out there himself. For now he’s cool with the traditional route.
As more of us can be.
It’s not impossible to find a publisher who likes and respects your work and will take your book to market.
Here’s to all you courageous writers skilled enough, persistent enough and brave enough to craft, revise, revise again, revise again, polish once more, run spellcheck for the 80th time – and send. Keep at it. May you find abundant acceptance in all its forms.
What stage are your at with your book? Do you find submitting exhilarating or scary?