Nothing like the arrival of a box of bound galleys on your doorstep to yank you out of reality and place you in the slow, unfathomable timeline of the book’s creation.
This book has been six years in the making, and that’s just from contract through galleys.
I have learned the lessons of a lifetime from all that it took. Here’s what that plot looks like, thinking back:
- 2010-ish: the first dawning of an idea–a picture book, surely, on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King’s trip to India in 1959
- 2011: a tentative draft that never quite sat right in its little 32-page container
- submission and editorial feedback–interesting, but this isn’t a picture book. Middle grade nonfiction?
- 2012: a proposal–reach big. Why not? The transnational diffusion of Gandhi’s methods to the US civil rights movement?
- acceptance, followed by terror at having to write something that felt beyond my capability
- 2013: the first ragged draft
- six rounds of rewriting–throwing it all out and starting over
- 2015-2018: three rounds of edits. Editorial letters provided obligatory encouragement while urging me to write boldly, to claim my role as the teller of this story
- 2019: revising, revising, revising
- uncounted rounds of reading, questions, and comments from my patient, thoughtful critique group
- 2016-2019: three years of searching for photographs and navigating permissions mazes
- 2020: three–did I count them correctly?–rounds of keen-eyed perusal by the copyediting geniuses at Atheneum
- 2020-21: inviting comments from three generous, knowledgeable content readers and addressing every single one of their responses
- checking every quoted line at least three times
- checking sidebars, source lists, photo credits, everything
- 2021: letting go…reluctantly, understanding that writing this book has changed me
Now I am not sure what I’m meant to do with my days.
I’ll get past this. I’m sure the reviews (gulp) will help me face reality. For now, I’m grateful to be in the twilight zone of bound galleys.