Three days ago I leaned back and let out a long sigh. “It’s done!” The manuscript for my second book—complete. Months of writing, getting new ideas, scanning over drafts, revising, checking facts and dates, adding, sharing, more revisions. I developed the same attachment to the words that had occurred with my first book. A certain pride, loving affection, worrisome fussing. Does it need a different layout? Larger font? New paragraph here? Italics for emphasis?
It came to me that this is similar to the caring and fussing I saw acted out when I was a teacher. When I was a kindergarten teacher I saw hundreds of parents bring their child to the door on that first day of ‘real’ school, smoothing down a collar here, straightening a bow there. “Do you have your snack?” “Remember the teacher’s name?” “I’ll be right here after school.”
Some parents let their darlings off in a casual way. Pulling up to the drop-off lane in front of the school. “Out you go. Shut the car door. See you later.”
Others walked up to the edge of the schoolyard boundary, hand in hand with the new student, bent over with a kiss and a hug. “Have a nice time. Be good.”
And then there were the moms and dads who walked up to the outer school door, held it open like a sentry escorting royalty, marched the little prince or princess into the classroom, and began helping their little darlings with sweaters and snack bags. The Parting was emotionally and physically difficult for both parent and child. Hands were held tightly, sometimes little arms wrapped around mom’s waist, or even clutching a leg. Then I’d gently intervene and lead parent to the door “We’ll have so much to tell you after our first day.”
And so it seems to be with my manuscript. It is like a child I have birthed and cared for, and nurtured with healthy words and attention. I had it dressed and ready but had forgotten a part or two. What about the acknowledgements? This story needs more details about my cousin. This one needs details about that lake episode. Wait—another look at the whole package.
It’s hard to let it go. The book is filled with people stories, love stories, parent-child bonds, marriages built on years of shared challenges and successes. Writing a personal story to be published is like opening your heart to the reader.
And just as all those parents knew kindergarten was a necessary new journey for their child, I know it’s time to let my manuscript go off to a trusted publisher and send it on its way. It’s ready and so am I.