To publish or not to publish, that was the question.
I’m into my first week of pub month of my memoir and I’ve been asked if it was my goal to publish. I hesitated in answering because I honestly didn’t know. My intent had always been to just write and working on my manuscript was no exception. At the very least, the idea of publishing something I wrote was daunting and out of my reach. I equated a published author as a professional of a league I was not a member. My work was forever under construction where I dismantled my pieces and reworked for a smoother finish. My focus was on those moments and not looking ahead to any other place.
I “took the summer off” fifteen years ago to write. I quit working a full-time job, one that was not defined as a career position, but rather was a job due to reinvention. I had uninhibited time that first summer to figure out what my next move would be in life.
Time gaps in my day opened the emotional arena in my head. Here I was, forty years old, still young for perhaps another reinvention, yet too over-the-hill to think of competing with a younger work force.
I considered where I was in my life, and I reflected on how I got there. I thought back to my beginning, my girlhood home, the red brick Colonial on Carlisle plotted in the center of a lot with a large backyard and landscape front for maximum curb appeal. How I loved to walk the perimeter of my house! I’d start and end in the same spot, near the front door where a young birch tree grew. I noticed my physical amblings as a child and how they were repeated as a forty-year-old, only these amblings where in my head.
I could say I felt unfamiliar, uncomfortable and perhaps a little insecure. But when I recalled memories of home, particularly on that day when I posed near my birch tree while waiting for my picture to be taken on my first day of kindergarten; I thought life was good. My birch tree became my buddy, synonymous with home. When spotting a birch throughout my years, I was reminded of being in a good place, of being at home.
I continued to work on my manuscript, its state to be perennially in flux. Perhaps this situation reflected my personal status where my life was still being written. My thoughts filled pages as I recalled vivid details of my young girl self growing up, teenage years, and then college and out into the world in my twenties. And with years affording me time to flush out a theme, I believed I had a quiet story, free of complicated significance.
I thought of how we all deserve to feel at home, in a good place, as if we belong. But disconnections – divorce, lack of close friendships, not fitting in, are sure to be part of our journey’s landscape where we may have lost our sense of place and belonging at one time or another. I believed I had a story of making connections and finding home, one others could identify with me and with themselves through my narration.
Along my manuscript’s development a door had opened. Publishing was on the other side.
I looked at this opportunity as a sign that not only were my words ready and my book to be opened to the public but also I was ready to let go of the baggage that harbored the disconnections. I no longer had to travel with the effects of being a child of divorced parents, of not fitting in high school, or finding a job I was passionate about. The time was right to publish – and to let go.
Sometimes it’s okay to not have a goal but to amble about, treading the earth underfoot, to see that life is indeed good. To when you can feel at home again.
So the next time I’m asked if it was my goal to publish my memoir, I will answer that I let time tell when I was ready to publish.