Saturday, August 24, 2019
The Life of a Book
There was a wonderful and inspirational author named Madeleine L'Engle. You may recognize her as the author of A Wrinkle in Time and other imaginative and symbolic novels for young people. I know her as a writer of great faith. In my years of searching, when I was much younger, her adult non-fiction books, taught me that faith, art, and science are all gifts to be used. She led a practical Christian life and claimed that all types of art could be inspirational whether they used words like "God" or not, which I found comforting at the time. I recently pulled two of her books off of my bookshelf and found something I'd underlined long ago:
The writer does want to be published; the painter urgently hopes that someone will see the finished canvas; the composer needs his music to be heard. Art is communication, and if there is no communication it is as though the work had been stillborn.
I spent five months last winter writing a novel. It is my third one. The previous two novels were self-published. It was disappointing to have resorted to that, but I desperately wanted to see them as a book, not just a stack of paper or a words on a screen. They would have been dead, stillborn, if I'd done nothing with them. Their lives would have been like my grandmother's novels––pieces of looseleaf paper in cardboard boxes for someone to find after she died.
I have no formal training as a writer beyond local classes and critiques by various authors and writing groups. However, I've written a novel of historical fiction based on the life of a real person. I had no intention of ever writing fiction again, but it was an idea I couldn't resist. Oh, how I want to see it published. I know this one is better (or maybe just the query letter is better) because it has had the attention of several agents. Some wanted to see a portion of the work and two have asked to see the entire manuscript. This, in itself, is exciting and encouraging. The agents who have read portions of it all have had something positive to say about it, but...it just didn't grab them quite enough.
I have been told that the satisfaction should be in the creative process, the journey––but no, that is not true. A book is a part of you, a piece of your soul, and contains, in some way, everything you believe in. This holds true for all manner of art and creativity.
All of my life I have a deep desire and urgency to express myself through writing, singing, painting, crafts and playing instruments. I'm sure that will continue no matter whether this new book finds life and breath or not. The most ubiquitous advice is to never give up. I will try not to.