My writing coach, Kathie Giorgio, once told me that publishing a book is like giving birth. Each one is different – and special. I’m sure she’s right. But I’ve only got one childbirth to compare with one book, and I think perhaps the childbirth was easier.
The manuscript, Paddle for a Purpose, is finished now, resting between the covers of a three-ring binder on my shelf. I’m submitting it to small press publishers, hoping to find one who sees the same hope and promise that Gene and I have seen in this story since setting out on our kayak trip years ago. Already, the gestation period for this book-child has been five times as long as that of my son, Eric, whom I welcomed into my arms and into my life almost 27 years ago. I’m getting eager to hold the book in my hands, to run my fingers over the cover, and flip through the pages. Some of you have told me you are also anxious to see it – to read the story of God’s work in us during our months on the Mississippi.
So, what took so long? It’s just a book, right? The first year, I worked with a small group of colleagues in a Write-a-Book Workshop. We read and critiqued each others’ work, meeting once a month to discuss our books in progress. I loved being immersed not only in writing our story, but stories in other genres, as well. After the first draft was finished, I worked by myself for a while, then weekly on another draft with a different group of colleagues. Descriptions became more vivid, sentences more succinct, and inner thought more apparent, as other writers asked questions and offered suggestions. Next came a Writers’ Retreat, where I solidified the all-important beginning of the story. Then, more drafts, reading through the manuscript with Gene, cutting out unnecessary sections, and adding authenticity to the dialogue. After a couple more independent readings, I worked through the manuscript again with the help of my writing coach. Each time, the story stayed the same, but the telling improved. After the last independent read-through, I finally reached the conclusion that the memoir was written the best way I knew how.
When I began to put our story on the page, I had no idea how much revision it would need or how much I would learn in the process. I’d like to thank Kathie Giorgio, and my AllWriters’ Workplace and Workshop colleagues, not only for their help with this book, but for encouraging and helping me grow as a writer. And of course, I need to thank my husband, Gene, for his patience, support and invaluable assistance, both during the trip and the writing process.