Back in the Saddle Again

I have been thinking about this post for days, weeks, even months.

I’ve longed to be able to write it, but made myself wait. There were times I never thought this day would arrive. Now that it’s here, my thoughts are a (barely) coherent mess and the words are tumbling out on the page.

Well alrighty then. Time to get the thoughts and words out. Let’s have at it.

First up is an apology for having been such a recalcitrant blogger.

Recalcitrant is precisely the right word: lacking obedience, non-compliant, resisting authority, difficult to manage or work with.

Look up the word in the dictionary and my photo is right there. Little Miss Recalcitrant, 2013.

It hasn’t been for laziness or lack of interest or something to say. There are actually a number of reasons, only some of which I can share right now, but the others will come out in the fullness of time. And by fullness I mean in the next few days and weeks.

As a blogger you sign up for the gig of writing about what’s on your mind, what moves you, what puzzles you and what matters. You’re free to define your ‘niche’ and select post topics with abandon. When it involves others? Well, not so much.

Beginning today, I’m back in the blogging saddle again. And yes, I’ve got Stephen Tyler screeching in my head so here you go: Aerosmith’s Back in the Saddle Again.

You’re welcome.

I’ll be posting on a far more regular schedule (back to 3x a week). I’ve really missed blogging, and when you can’t do something you end up spending a lot of time thinking about how you’d do it differently when you finally can.

First up is getting back to a blogging routine. Routines needn’t always be boring. For writers, it may seem counter-intuitive but routines actually are  freeing. You just focus on writing, and then post as the mood and topic strike you.

After much mind-wrangling as to where to begin, I’ve decided to go with today’s post: one of the reasons I’ve been off the blogging grid recently is that I’ve been finishing my book on the importance of emotional resilience in expat/cross-cultural life.

And no, it is not finished. Yet. But we’re so close I can taste it. We’re in final editing, which actually turns out to be several back-and-forth rounds as we zero in on the Holy Grail of publishing: a manuscript that is ‘done’ and can be turned over for layout.

The past eight weeks have been full of intensive writing, rewriting, adding, cutting, some reorganizing of material (which surprised me at this late date but came to me one morning after receiving some feedback, and makes eminent sense), my own editing and so much more.

In a perfect world you finish your manuscript and then send it out to hand-selected reviewers (i.e., experts/fellow authors in your chosen genre or, in this case of a non-fiction book, field) for cover testimonials.

My world isn’t perfect, and has been far from it for several months, but that is a post for another time. So with the encouragement of my publisher (Jo Parfitt, Summertime Publishing) and my editor (Saint Jane, aka Jane Dean/Wordgeyser), I sent out an 80% completed manuscript and hoped I wouldn’t be laughed out of finishing it.

And yes, doubt and insecurity do creep into the minds of even the most confident writers. Which is why I appreciate having Saint Jane around to tell me that it’s perfectly normal, part of the process and happens to everyone – even before I’ve confessed my fears and concerns to her.

What if they don’t like it? What if I forget something really obvious? What if they think it’s ‘light weight’? What if they’re out there rolling their eyes and thinking up polite ways to say ‘this really stinks’? What if they don’t even bother to be polite?

As the feedback and testimonials rolled in, I’d waste precious minutes with the cursor hovering over each email, mentally preparing myself for rejection. And what I received was such a gift – many gifts, actually – that bouyed my spirits and encouraged me to return to the keyboard and keep going.

In between writing spurts I got to do the fun but time-consuming task of working with my designer/layout person on the front and back covers. Lisa of Lemonberry.com is nothing short of amazing (and patient). I’m sensing a theme here.

We talked about what I was envisioning for possible covers, the concept I was going for, feelings I wanted to evoke and ideas to try out. She went off and did all of those cover mock-ups and then threw in a few more for good measure.  It was in the latter group that I clicked open a file and stared at what I knew would become the cover of my book.

Tears? You bet. Lots of them.

Just like the first time I saw the book’s ISBN (international standard book number). Wept like a baby.

I also had tears in my eyes when I went to pick up the foamboard mock-up of the final cover from my local print shop. I was heading to the 2013 Families in Global Transition conference (yet another forthcoming post). While my book was not yet published, I was going to participate in the ‘new author book signing’ nonetheless; I wanted to have something people could hold in their hands while we chatted.

I also designed business cards with the book cover on them, and had them sent directly to the conference hotel for collection upon arrival. Nearly cried when the hotel manager handed over the package, but Daughter was with me and would have been mortified so I held it together until we made it to our room. Tore the package open, raised the lid on the box and – you guessed it – started blubbering.

Color me nothing if not consistent when it comes to emotional crying.

So where are we now? In the dance that is ‘final editing,’ which in my case means taking the latest clean, edited version from the long-suffering Saint Jane and finishing up the last of the ‘to be added later’ sections. Lest you worry that I’ll send her over the edge (and yes, I have been concerned I’ll do just that), she’s getting away for a well-deserved break from the intensity of editing. Over the next ten days I’ll be butt-in-chair to finish this puppy off in time to hand it over for more ‘final, final’ and ‘final, final, final’ editing.

Because in writing a book, I’ve come to learn that nothing is ever final. I’m going for ‘done’ and over to lovely Lisa for layout and a publishing date in late April.

And yes, I’ll cry the entire way.






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