“Where has the year gone?” As I ask the familiar question, I know exactly where it has gone.
My daughter, who lives out of state, was married in St. Louis in mid-April. I bet you can guess who was the main wedding planner!
“Oh, but I thought you were finishing up your book?” you might ask. Well, that too.
I finished the book by the beginning of March, and sent it off to the beta readers. My beta readers were varied: a teacher, an English major, a mother of a child with autism, a licensed social worker, and a “just plain” reader with no connection to the world of autism. I gave them six weeks to read the manuscript while I finished wedding planning. Due date: the Monday after the wedding, of course.
I got back to the final details of wedding preparation. Among other things, I needed to finish knitting two shawls: one ninety-inch-long gray shawl for the bride and a slightly shorter pink shawl for myself. This was a barn wedding. In St. Louis. In mid-April. And the ceremony was outside. I wanted to be prepared. The bride showed me a picture of a shawl she wanted and I tried to replicate it. My other daughter, the only bridesmaid, thankfully said she would rather freeze than wear a knit shawl handcrafted by her mother. I say thankfully because I would never have completed a third shawl. She froze, unfortunately, as it turned out to be a brisk, sunny day. It was, however, a beautiful day for a wedding.
Once the wedding was a pleasant memory, I was eager to hear what my readers had to say. Some asked for more definitions in my narratives that begin each chapter to make the book more easily understood by new parents who might know little about autism. They felt it would make it easier to understand some of the candid parent stories in those chapters with more background from me.
Overall, reader feedback about the book was positive. The woman who knew little about autism before reading the book told me she learned so much from the heartfelt words of the individuals who shared their stories. The teacher told me that the stories were down to earth and real but, in the end, she felt the book leaned toward hope. I was hoping for both of those results when I began the project.
It was now my editor’s turn. She agreed that I needed to add some definitions. Since the book is mainly honest and very personal parent quotes, I had really hoped to stay away from clinical and diagnostic definitions, wanting the parent narratives to carry the message. After feedback, I realized I did need to clarify some terms. I worked hard to do that without getting too dry and technical.
I have never written a book or worked with a professional editor before. The parents who spoke to me shared their words in a total stream of consciousness, the way many of us talk when we have a lot to say. That means the sentences ran on, used poor grammar, and were impossible to punctuate at times. The words are emotional and unfiltered and real. My editor knows that it is important to me to keep the voice of each of my contributors. Every time I read their quotes I am transported to our original meetings and feel all of the same emotions I felt then.
My editor has been awesome in working with these quotes and making them as readable as possible. I am not sure all editors would be like that.
This week, my book is back to my editor for Round 2. The process is slow. At this point, it’s all about the journey. Surprisingly, I’m okay with that.