Saturday, March 10, 2007

The First Writer

A while back, my daughter's Orientation and Mobility teacher (more on what that is later) gave me a chapter from the memoir she's been writing about her 30 plus years teaching children with vision impairments. As I read it I became excited. Not only was the chapter about my own wonderful daughter, but this teacher could WRITE. The prose was beautiful, the rhythm and word choice excellent. A few days later, I told her how much I loved it and blurted out, "I'd love to publish it." I told her I was starting a small press with a friend and we were looking for a manuscript to launch and hers would be perfect and would she like to work with us because it would be great and I couldn't offer her an advance because, like I said, we were a start-up but I would do all the marketing and PR for her book which was what she'd be spending her advance on anyway, so wouldn't she like to publish with us and have more creative control and what do you think? She looked at me for a moment with her head tilted to the side as though trying to figure out if I were serious, or crazy. Then she said, "That sounds perfect." The idea of working with the mother of one of her students appealed to her, so she ran home, got the rest of her manuscript, and returned with 220 pages for me to read.

It was slow going. Yes, she could write, but she still needed to learn how to put a novel together. Some of the chapters were bogged down with beautiful, rambling prose, which brought the pacing to a halt. But the story itself was compelling, and the way she wrote about her students brought each individual child to vibrant life. These weren't stories about poor little crippled children. These children were unique, funny, cantankerous, exuberant, challenging, kind and REAL humans who just happened to be blind. After reading the entire book, I was more certain I needed to publish it.

The author is rewriting it after I gave her feedback and agrees with my comments. She is as hungry to see her book in print as I am to help make that happen. And once it's closer to her vision and a strong manuscript, we will work out the contract. For now, the revision process feels like coaching and editing. I cheer her on, offer suggestions, try to decipher her metaphors, and constantly ask if this is the book she wants to write. Is this the best work she can do? I love watching her book evolve, as much as writing my own. We talk about structure, scenes, dialogue, what the title should be and what kinds of ideas we have for the cover design.

I love this work! My partner is as excited as I. As soon as the author has the structure of the novel worked out, she'll send it to my partner, the Queen of Polish. This woman is a grammar and spelling guru. After that, we create the book itself. The cover, interior, font, and price. Which means I'd better figure out how to do that.


Mother of Chaos said...

Ooooh! I just noticed your (well, I guess it's Pietro Papa's, but still) Medusa! She's gorgeous!!!

Good luck with the launch!! You know we're rooting for you... :)

Dilettante said...

What a wonderful way to start a new venture! I'm very excited for you. Let me know how it goes...