(Just a short note before you start reading this... At the moment, I can't find the time to tell the people I'm closest to this amazing news that I recently received. I can't find the time to personally send everyone emails. So please forgive me for spreading this news so 'massively' in one go. I'd have loved nothing more than to sit and type personal messages to all my closest family and friends... But for that I simply have no time right now. So, I'm sharing it through my blog, because I simply need to let you all know. I hope nobody feels this is too impersonal or is offended...)
At the moment, I’m still absorbed in teaching and in India. I have been ever since I took on this job. Occasionally, over the past 4 months, I’ve had short and intense panic attacks, whenever I’d think about the book I’ve written and that’s waiting to be published. Being here, in this teaching situation, has often made me feel bad for ‘neglecting’ the process of publishing. I’d feel guilty for the fact that the teaching has taken-over and that I wasn’t actively searching for a means through which I could get the book to the reader.
In October, when I had free time, I had a notion to set-up my own website so as to publish the book myself. That was during my time in Chennai. I worked hard to suss out what I needed to do and was eager to set things in motion… I was so desperate to share my story. After Chennai, what I’d hoped to do… I was unable. I’d hoped that I could teach daily and work on self-publishing in my spare time. But that never happened… Lack of time, lack of internet connection and, more importantly, lack of physical energy. I also felt it a shame to be diving into a world of books, when there was a whole different world to explore just outside Lekha’s back door. So I accepted the fact that I had chosen to teach and that I was only able to do so much. I’ve learned that when we try to focus on too many different tasks and jobs at one, the work we then do in all areas will never receive the right amount of energy and the quality will never be as high as when we put attention only on one task at a time. So I distanced myself from the job I’d put upon myself; self-publishing and I worked as hard as I could to teach the kids some English and to teach myself some teaching skills. All was working great… and it’s still ongoing.
But something changed as a result of a connection that seemed insignificant at the time. On one day back in early December, when I was teaching in Sasthavattom, I checked my email and received a message from Julie, a close family friend from back home. She told me about a publisher she’d personally met. She’d spoken to her about the book I’d written and this lady was interested in such stories. So Julie sent her contact details to me in that one very ‘insignificant’ email.
When I first read the email, I was startled… because I hadn’t actually considered approaching publishers, as I was going to (eventually, when time, energy and internet connection would permit) do the work myself. Also I was startled to think that on the other side of the world, close friends and family still remembered that I’d written a book and still supported my dream and my passion so much. Because here, in this environment, nobody has a clue of my passion (or they may know that I write, but have no idea how much it means to me) nor do they have a clue of my past… Here in my ‘little Indian bubble’ I’ve often forgotten just how much work I once put into writing that book… Except for days when the little panic attacks would hit and I’d be struck by a bout of desperation to get the book on the shelves NOW… then I’d be at a loss as to what to do… whilst being ‘stuck in my Indian bubble’. I had no clue how I’d get it out there…
So on that day when I got the email, I was startled, then excited and anxious. There wasn’t really anybody I could share this news with. Because, as I said, nobody really knew. In my mind I was racing ahead, thinking of where this new, and oh so random, connection could lead. But, as well, after learning from previous rejections by other publishers, I knew the chances of her liking it, were ever so tiny. And if she WERE to like it, the odds of her actually publishing it, were even slimmer. So I tried not to get my hopes up when I emailed the manuscript, after being so tempted to edit the whole thing just one more time or to at least read it, scrutinize it and scrap some ‘not so strong parts’. Thankfully I resisted temptation and trusted that if she was going to like the story, some editing wouldn’t stop her from wanting to work with it. So I attached it, wished it well and didn’t expect to be bedazzled at anytime in the near future. This all happened around 2 weeks before Christmas.
Then, 3 weeks into the new year, sitting in the internet café in Kayamkulam, this is what happens: I open my email and there’s one in particular that gives me flutters in my stomach. It’s from this lady, the publisher. At first I’m a little apprehensive to open it… but… I have to know what her thoughts are, even if she’s going to disregard it… I tell myself not to be struck down or disheartened by her rejection; it’s nothing personal, everyone will have a different opinion and all publishers and agencies are searching for a certain type of writer… it’s all part of the tough book publishing world.
However, fear shouldn’t be near! Because, there it is… for the first time since writing the book, I receive positive feed-back from somebody other than my family… Yes yes yes! Finally, some happy words about my book! She’s positive, she likes it a lot and feels it has a good flow and a sincere message to spread. The comment blows me away… and it’s followed by: ‘can we chat on skype?’ By this point, I have tears running down my face, but I don’t know what she actually wants to discuss. I simply cry for the fact that she likes it – whether or not it leads to anything.