I always had this dream that I would write a book, if only a small one, that would carry one way, into a realm that could not be measured nor even remembered. I imagined a lot of things but overall I love to write. I would dwell bareheaded and a summit turning a wheel what would turn the earth and undetected, amongst the clouds, I would have some influence and be of some avail or change. Everything contained in this book is true and written just like it was. The writing of it drew me from my strange build-up lethargy and I figured that in some measure it will fill the reader with a vague and curious joy. Let’s begin.
I worked on my manuscript for years and knew it needed a lot of work since English is not my first language. Systematic Functional Linguistics taught me that even the Theme and Rheme (the part of the clause in which the Theme is developed) is sometimes reversed in German.
Do you want to publish a book? The first thing is to write an official proposal and send it to publishers. At least this is how it is done in the U.S. and Canada. The proposal is a document telling the publishers about myself, the book I want to write, some sample chapters or essays, the audience I target, pictures, biography etc. Of course, I hoped this was something I can spit out in an afternoon. I looked at samples publishing proposals online and I was blown away: they were asking for 80-90 pages that won’t go into the book and actually are supposed to be mainly about myself. Isn’t the proposal a book in itself then? Anyway, I started typing. What initially sounded like boring schoolwork turned out to be so much fun. With a tight schedule at school, I usually worked on the proposal at night or on weekends. I felt like my creativity just popped off again whenever I started to work on it. Overall, I had a lovely time. I was done in about four weeks and after a bit of back and forth and correcting my “charming English” I sent it off to publishers in the U.S. and Canada. Since I am not a Canadian citizen, I cannot publish my book here in Canada, however, I do have resident status in the U.S. so I targeted publishers there.
If you are a new author, sending out proposals can be a devastating time (
almost as annoying as sending out job applications waiting for a response). All I initially received were rejections. “It sounds good, but ….”, or “We are sorry, but….” were usually the answers I got. Then one publisher said that my book sounds great and they would like to publish it. Usually, when a publisher agrees to publish a book, they give you a timeframe when you have to hand in your first draft or when the bulk of the work needs to be done. Since my manuscript was written already, I of course needed to edit it which was so much work. My publisher mentioned that I need to change many sentences and structures and came back with the copy editors notes. Changing 80% to his suggestions but he said just keep your “German style” in the rest for “personality reasons”. ” It makes the book more charming. We do not want to take the German out of you”, he said. So the book has 30% of Daniela/German-ism in it, be aware. 😉
I quickly realized that I have to do most of the work at night because I was in school full time and have a 5-year-old son who wants to be entertained. A book project like this takes up mental and even physical time. I knew that I can manage it since I have done so many other complicated projects in half the time and writing is my passion. I actually was not worried at all. All I had to do was to add up a million ideas that I have in my head in a cohesively and coherent way.
When the writing is done, the font of the text is next. The publisher gives you several options and suggests what works best. Then the publisher works with you on the design of the book. I wanted a picture that my friend Judith Lockett took as my front cover. The rest of the book was designed by the publishing company. I emphasized that the ecstatic of the book is important to me and that the book, in the end, represents me and what I am all about.
My first book was out. If you had told me this ten years ago, I never would have believed you. I wrote since I learned the alphabet.
What I love most about writing? That I can be creative. I baked about a million inside jokes into the text, created mean fantasy boyfriends named Gabriel, many lovely characters but also evil witches. Mining the contents of my memory makes the writing process so much more fun. Sometimes I can just write and have no idea where this all came from. When I have a very good day, I can write for hours which almost feels like blacking out it pushes me in sort of trance.
“You have just published a book. This is amazing and a success, ” my friend S. told me when I said that my life was a disaster last summer. Well, she is right. I am proud of myself but I also realize that most books do not earn back the expense it takes to produce them. Writing a book is not fancy. I mean, I am not J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, or Andre Alexis (His new book coming out on February 19th!) who probably make the majority of money for publishers while every other book ends up shortly on the Chapters “80% off-sad-pile” close to the washrooms. Honestly, I am glad my book is published and I do not care too much about how many copies I sell. This may be weird to some but to have the book on the shelf in the store means so much more to me. Success for me is when I feel immersed in my work and that I am getting better at it.
Lastly, I want to add that reading and writing is equally important to me. I know that I become a better writer by reading more. I read everything I can get my hands on, some voices that are similar to mine and voices that could not be more different, such as Hemingway. I read a chapter in a book on Quantum Physics on my friend’s kitchen table while waiting for coffee and then asked him 10,000 questions, a memoir by Elizabeth Hay or poetry: The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T. S. Eliot. Read. Read. Read.
And then, I get very quiet, sit at my desk and let my own voice speak. I take a deep breath and start typing. My best essays usually come when I am not forcing it and trust my instincts. I work on launching my new book project “What If This Is Enough” for fun before sending out proposals to publishers on www.kickstarter.com soon if you would like to check it out.