Saturday, August 18, 2012

A Little BSP

In today's publishing world, there is a tongue-in-cheek phrase called Blatant Self Promotion or BSP. It's nothing new. When Walt Whitman introduced the first edition of Leaves of Grass, he wrote three fawning and anonymous reviews. He also made sure the world knew about Emerson's praise of it. "The public is a thick-skinned beast," Whitman said, "and you have to keep whacking away at its hide to let it know you're there." 

Now to my own BSP. 

Lies at Six was first written in the late '90's. After that, Major Life Change time began in earnest and, for a while, seemingly without end. The manuscript, then titled The Lies We Live By, was put on a shelf through divorce, a return to full-time work, loss of my agent, cancer, chemo and surgeries. The changes kept on but definitely took a turn as I fell in love with a musical and imaginative treehouse builder, sold my Olympia, WA house, left a comfy if uninspiring job after 16 years, started and developed a business as an eco-lodging proprietor at Mt. Rainier, married, and moved to an off-grid life in a cabin on homesteaded land in a national forest. I swapped my dishwasher for a bucket to haul water from the creek by our house so I could wash my etched crystal goblets. Fortunately, I’ve always loved irony. 

All the while, I felt like a failure for having abandoned something that once had my heart and soul: writing. I had two unpublished manuscripts, what became Lies at Six being the second, and both sat, untouched except for the occasional dusting, for NINE years. It astounds me to think of this. Years back, I felt proud I’d never known a moment of writer’s block. Comeuppance times ten.

One day last autumn, on a whim that interrupted my morning meditation, I picked up the loose 81/2" x 11" pages of my second manuscript. It was only a few feet away, an easy reach across the years. I held the bulk of it between my hands, took a deep breath and flipped over the title page. 

I began reading the prologue, and by about the third line, tears surprised me. I had abandoned something of value. I can never name that value for anyone else; I just knew at that moment that the book had intrinsic value. I called my husband to come up to our bedroom where I sat, and I read him the prologue. Bill, as a musical artist, understood. He urged me to get the book out into the world. Soon after, writer and friend Carolyn Rose opened a door for me with Krill Press, and Ken Lewis at Krill invited me in. I am very grateful to them both. And I am grateful my days now support a writing life far better than my former schedule did.

The process of getting to publication in these rapidly changing days of e-books and e-marketing has been an eye-opener time and again for me. As Carolyn advised: "Forget everything you know about publishing." The axis of the planet Publish took a new tilt in the years of my writing hiatus, and it is tilting still more. 

Thank you for your interest in reading this, my first author’s blog.