Path to Publication: Claudia Sternbach's (mis)adventure continues

Claudia Sternbach is out of pocket this week, so I'm posting the fourth installment of her continuing adventure from brainstorm to bookshelf with her forthcoming book Reading Lips: A Memoir of Kisses. Click here to read Chapter One.

Chapter 4

It is funny thinking about all of the things that can and did happen over the past few months while waiting for the book to come out. As my friends and family began to hear about the "tell all" each had comments and/or advice. Everyone felt I should go on Oprah. And that advice was given as easily as say, you should put on a jacket if it is snowing out.

I know that to slip into my black puffy parka I just need to grab it from the hall closet and pull it on. I haven't a clue how to end up on Oprah. But I do know I wouldn't wear that fat jacket.

Many felt that the book should come out on Valentine's Day. The title, Reading Lips, a memoir of kisses, seemed to go perfectly with heart-shaped boxes of chocolates and red roses by the dozens. But, I told them, not all of the kisses in life are romantic. I have kissed my dog and had no lust in my heart whatsoever.

Eventually the advice died down. After all, how many months can go by with nothing happening and still find folks interested in the publishing process. New topics of conversation cropped up at dinner parties and holiday gatherings. I was off their radar. But deep in the night when I could not sleep I held the truth close. A book, small as it was, was on the way. I had a new job I loved as an editor of a literary journal, I had my position as a newspaper columnist that I found fulfilling, I was still finding a moment here and there to work on a novel. Life was good.

But I could not shake the feeling that something was wrong. I am sixty years old and am much more used to the snags and glitches and pot holes and black holes in life.

So when, one evening late in the summer, my phone rang and it was a new features editor at the paper calling to say that after more than fifteen years I was no longer needed as of that very moment I began to feel a bit more like myself. And when the next day a writer friend sent me a letter filled with angry denunciations, not the least of which was calling me an idiot, I thought, yes this is more like it. And when the following afternoon while making my way through New York's JFK Jet Blue terminal and getting ready to check in for a flight to California I heard my cell phone ring and was able to answer it while my carry on was being scanned only to have my sister tell me that our father had died just moments ago, I thought, ah ha. My life is back on track.

I settled in to my aisle seat. Tried to stay composed. But when one of the flight attendants noticed my tense expression, my clenched jaw, my blank stare, he kindly asked if I was alright. Which caused me to cry. Which caused him to bring me a cocktail. Which I appreciated so much I wanted to kiss him.


Argh. I can so relate to the "helpful" advice to go on Oprah (what writer can't) and that feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop. I was sorry to hear about your Dad though. And such bad timing, too.
How awful--and beautiful. Your story has so much truth. And I must admit that I'm a bit dismayed although not altogether surprised to hear that the advice doesn't stop when the book's about to come out. Sigh. I was hoping that once I got an agent, people would stop telling me what to do. I guess it's like having (or not having) children. People always have an opinion, even if it's irrelevant.

You tell your adventures so beautifully, Claudia. I keep waiting to hear more. :)

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