I never meant for it to happen this way.
I couldn’t have planned it if I tried.
Indeed, truth is often stranger than fiction.
Here I am, though, with a new baby and two books being published this month. Yes, two.
Tough Love: A Wyoming Childhood, published this month by Pronghorn Press, recounts my experience as an only child growing up among the raw and grisly characters in rural western Wyoming. It began in 2008 as a collection of essays for my Master’s thesis in creative nonfiction writing. I knew from the get-go I would go all the way with it, writing the pieces one at a time, piecing them together with a thread of a theme (what does it mean to be tough?), and eventually pursuing publication, sending out query after query until a “yes” finally came.
The “yes” did come – but, unexpectedly, so did a positive pregnancy test, three days later.
That “yes,” along with the blue “+” sign on the stick, came while I was knee-deep in work on my family’s small business history. Bucky’s: Stories and Recollections from 50 Years in Business, commemorates the grit and determination of a small-town service, repair and retail shop doing whatever it took to survive off of a quiet western main street. I began the project while Tough Love: A Wyoming Childhood grinded its way through the query mill, back before a pregnancy was even on the horizon. The business history was a grand effort in helping my family carve out its well-deserved legacy. It was to be for me a venture in self-publishing, my intention to learn the ropes of the trade to be better informed and equipped as a writer during this tumultuous time in the publishing industry. I planned to publish the “Bucky’s book,” as it affectionately came to be called, in June 2012.
Then the nod came for Tough Love: A Wyoming Childhood.
Then I got pregnant.
In other words, life happened.
And here I am, with a baby who was born the end of July, a book of essays to be published on schedule by a traditional publisher, and a self-published small business history that, due to life circumstances, was postponed for release until September – the month of the business’ annual grand open house.
So we leave next week, traveling from California to Wyoming, where for the better part of the month I will be promoting my work. September will be a crazy month. But I can’t wait.
I go into it with heart racing and eyes bright with excitement. Here are the moments where the hard, dogged work will be worth it. Finally, I will meet the finished products. Works of art into which I put my whole self. I will get to talk about this craft I love so much. I get to share words, encourage others to share theirs, and talk about the value of preserving life stories and leaving legacies.
This is work that I love. I am packing my bags now.
Please, join me if you can. Click here for a list of events. Stay tuned for upcoming readings and get-togethers in California. And, if you’re interested in using Tough Love: A Wyoming Childhood as a pick for a book group, ordering copies of either book, or learning more about the crafts of creative nonfiction writing and/or telling your own life story, please get in touch.
Writing, at its very core, is about communication. If I can reach people, if I can inspire and encourage, only then can I smile and say to myself, “Job well done.”