The Story of Reading Lips
Waiting for a book to be published is not, no matter what one may have heard, like waiting to give birth. At least not as far as I am concerned. When I was trying to get pregnant I was fully aware of the fact. Each romp in the bedroom was, I was hoping, going to lead to growing fat and round and swollen and then to the big Ta Da!
When I was writing the personal essays that would eventually become a collection to be released by Unbridled Books in April, 2011, I had no idea I was actually nurturing a seed which would grow and grow and become more than just nattering for my own personal pleasure. Each romp at my computer was simply for fun. Not for procreating. I was not imagining celebrations for a newborn or attempting to come up with a name. And yet, here I am, a book on the way. Unplanned to say the least. But a welcome surprise. And perhaps more fun as I wasn't trying at all. I felt no pressure from anyone. No one even knew I was working on this. No friends or family members called on a weekly basis to ask if anything was new. Unlike when I was trying to get knocked up. I had opened my big mouth and soon everyone wanted to know what was new.
The other evening a couple of writer friends were over and we were well into a bottle of wine, which if I were pregnant with a baby I would not be able to enjoy but when waiting for a book to come out is almost mandatory. One of them asked me about my “process.” How my writing came to feel, in his opinion, so honest and so relaxed even when dipping into the very personal. The secret, I told him, was that when working on this soon-to-be-released book, I never, ever, imagined anyone reading it. I was free to move about the cabin without a care in the world. No seat belts to restrain me. I just sat down at my desk one afternoon and listened to a voice in my head and stepped back into my past and wrote. I wrote about a boy named Teddy and how much I loved him. And in the blink of an eye I was in fifth grade and it was the end of the school year and rumor had it that Teddy was planning on kissing me. And as I sat writing I could remember every moment leading up to that last day of school. I could hear the kids in the yard. I could taste the tuna sandwich my mother had packed me for lunch. I was off and running.
For months and months I would set aside my real work, my newspaper columns and magazine stories and play around in the past. When in New York City, where I am lucky enough to be able to spend months at a time apartment sitting for friends, I would treat myself to time at the computer at any time of the day or night. If words began to buzz in my head at three in the morning I got up and made myself a cup of tea and sat at the desk and played. And as the essays continued to come, not in any particular order, I began to save them so I might print them when I returned home. And eventually I began to share them with my husband, Michael. He was my first listener. And he was encouraging. He made me feel as if they were good enough to at least place them in a drawer where they would not get lost. And there they stayed. For a very, very, long time.
So how did they get from my cluttered drawer to Unbridled Books Spring 2011 Catalog? And were there any bumps in the road? Sink holes narrowly avoided?
I'll have to get back to you on that.