I did it!
That’s what I want to write, that’s what I want to shout out from the rooftops: “I did it! I did it!!!”
The sentence, however, feels incomplete.
My First Book
As I’m writing this, I’m looking at a signed contract between me and a real-life bona fide publisher of good books. What I’ve been wanting to do since I was a child, what people have expected me to do since I graduated from high school, has finally happened. I’ve written a book for which a publishing company wants to pay me, a book that will be sold in bookstores, available in libraries, sitting happily on people’s side tables. I’m going to be a published author!
Yes!!! My New Year’s resolution of 2018 has come to fruition and the book that I have written will be available for all of you to read. More information will be available in the coming months. I still can’t quite believe it. I’m thrilled, excited, relieved, and nervous. I admit, I’m a little bit scared about marketing and publicity, but amazed and grateful that I get to be so scared — what a fabulous difficulty! Within all of these wonderful feelings, however, I’m still feeling doubt.
Interestingly, I don’t doubt the goodness of the book. There are times when I’m feeling frustrated or fearful in everyday life and I think to myself, “What does it say in the book?” You see, the book is a deeply meaningful, and even practical, resource for me in appreciating and living the fullness of life, and I do believe that it can be so for others as well. Much like my blog, I was inspired to write each chapter for my own better understanding of life — of God, and so of who I am as an image of God — and I received the blessings of learning and growing as I wrote. When I say that I don’t doubt the goodness of the book, it isn’t any kind of bragging on my part because, as imperfect as the book necessarily is, being written by a mere human being, the book, though it contains memoir, has as its main subject the very heart of reality: Jesus Christ Himself. There is no better subject. Through reflections on Christ’s human life, I have come to better understand my own little life, I have come to better understand and appreciate who I am in the light of Christ and what an astonishing wonder, joy, and privilege it is to be human, to be alive here and now. This is what I share in the book.
Life is good.
What I think I’m experiencing in terms of doubt is the very classic feeling of “too good to be true.” When something amazing, wonderful, and long-desired happens, we may naturally expect to abruptly wake up to harsh reality, as if from a dream, or to have someone tell us that it was a joke or a mistake. I’m not quite sure how to get over us this feeling, except to have faith in God’s will. If I let it, that faith will see me through until I can hold my own book in my own hands. (Even if I can’t physically open the book with my own disease-weakened hands. LOL Yes, really, laughing out loud!)
So, every once in a while, including when I started writing this reflection, I allow myself the little, childlike euphoria of “I did it!” As I wrote earlier, however, this proclamation is incomplete.
That’s because the answer to “How to secure a publishing contract” is this: you can’t do it alone.
How to Get Published
Firstly, there’s God. First there is always God. The Creator and Master of all chose to eternally join this particular genetic combination (my body) with this particular spirit (my soul) so that I was created. I am first, foremost, and always a child of God with unique gifts given to me by my Divine Father. Each and every human being is this, but we don’t all know it or accept it. I thank God that I know and accept it!
Then, there is my family. My amazingly self-giving parents and my doting big sister have given selfless care and support throughout my life. This along with the inspiration and encouragement that they and my brother-in-law and nephews give every day, are as much responsible for the publication of my book as are my choice of words to write. And what I have written has taken shape through every relationship — with extended family members, fellow students, friends, teachers, etc. — in my childhood, teenage years, and adulthood. Both positive and negative experiences teach us and form us, hopefully in the ways of virtue, and shape our stories. I had an overwhelmingly positive childhood experience — yes, me, the kid in the wheelchair who couldn’t go into the field with the other kids, who became severely fatigued by the physical attendance of school, who knew that she would never get married, never become a mother, never be independent — because I’ve always known that I am loved. Without that knowledge, this particular book would not be.
Also, if no one had ever read and commented on this blog, I would never have written a book. I know that to be true. We all need, not only validation of our gifts, but conversation with other people about the things we hold most dear. No one learns in a vacuum, no one grows in a vacuum — no one has ever published a book in a vacuum. And so, I thank all of you, my dear readers, for being here and teaching me, for bugging me about the writing of my book when I asked you to do so, and for simply being you.
Does this mean that you need to write a blog in order to secure a publishing contract for a book? I don’t know, I am not an expert. What I do know is that writing this blog has improved my ability to write and opened my mind and heart to the message that my Creator wants me to share. The next practical thing I would advise is to become part of a writer’s group. I am a joyful member of The Catholic Writers Guild, a wonderful group of people who have provided inspiration, advice, and concrete assistance to a little, unknown writer like me, who was willing to reach out and learn. Attend a webinar, a conference, read what other people are writing, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Having my manuscript looked over by beta readers was also helpful, and before I did that I googled how to do that!
My original plan for my book was to self publish it, and I believe that independent publishing is a viable and admirable option for anyone who is serious about writing and publishing a good book. This became my second option, however, after I hired a freelance editor, Michelle Buckman, to help me improve my manuscript before self-publication. She enthusiastically insisted that I write a book proposal and use her contacts in the Catholic publishing world in order to get a contract. After more effort and much soothing encouragement from Michelle, it worked! As someone with limited strength and time, it is a great blessing to have professionals handle all of the formatting and business side of publication, as well as distribution and marketing. I will, however, be fully and happily involved in marketing and publicizing, doing whatever I can to get my book into the hands — and its message into the hearts — of as many people as possible.
Is this really happening?! Yes, Christina, it’s happening!
As the working title of my book proclaims, “It Is Good to Be Here.” (That’s true even if this book deal somehow fell through, or if it had never happened at all.)
While I’m having fun saying, “I did it! I did it!” I most certainly did not do it alone. We did it, my readers, my family, my colleagues, my friends, my God — we are doing it. This is real.
Woo-hoo!!! (And gulp. Deep breath.)
© 2019 Christina Chase
Although crippled by disease, I am fully alive in love. I write about the profound wonder and terrible beauty of life while living with physical disability and severe dependency. Unafraid to ask life's big questions, I was briefly an atheist and considered other religions before finding, in God's choice to intimately share our humanity, what it truly means to be fully human. A revert to the Catholic Faith, I blog weekly and have written a book called It's Good to Be Here.