The really, really, really long road

July 25, 2010

Arithmetic Village has been a long time coming. I held the idea for years.  It wasnt until Zuva was 4 months old and a writing workshop that a facilitator looked me in the eye and asked, ¨Are you ever going to do this? (pause) I mean, really do this?¨.

I hesitated, knowing that if I committed to this project out loud, I would have to follow through. (I like my freedom – following through is not my specialty.)

I answered her a solemn but clear – ¨yes.¨ The group cheered. A young man named David demanded to be king.

I started to write. Writing mostly right before bed, during bed (pen and paper on nightstand helped), in the early morning and while driving.  After 4 months, I had first drafts. Another 4 months was spent refining.

I had encouragement along the way, one person, who was planning a sailing trip with her two daughters whom she would home school (or boat school), insisted I finish before she left.  I was so charmed by her demand I took it as a challenge and finished a set of dummies before she set sail.

The enormity of the whole vision of arithmetic Village was (and is) overwhelming. After a year of focus just on the books, I was feeling exasperated by the project one day and I asked my partner, James, “Do you think I will ever finish this project?”.

It was supposed to be a rhetorical question. I wanted reassurance. If he had a script, he would say, “Of course darling, it is destined”. But he didn’t have a script. He had honesty.

He looked me in the eye and said ¨no¨.

That comment rocked my world (in an un-good way). I almost walked out. Really. I agonized over this answer. How could I be with someone who does not  believe in me?  I thought his job was at the very least to be a cheerleader. (although English men have little knowledge of such a thing.)

He went on to explain he was projecting his own doubt.  blah blah blah.   In the end, I decided that it was not about him, it was about me.  I needed to toughen up, get my act together and finally finish something that I started.

The thing is, in publishing, it is not that cut and dry.  You can say you are a writer and you can actually write books, but until a publisher gives you a contract you are officially considered delusional. So I submitted. I learned to query. I listened. I followed directions.

And waited.  I researched.  I waited. I sent. I waited.

After another year, I regrouped and hired a life coach to keep me on track.  We made a plan.  I stuck to it. The publisher’s didn´t.  I provided workshops, I wrote lesson plans. I started this blog.

Barefoot books sent me the most wonderful rejection after sitting on it for one year.  Scholastic sent me a lovely note after shortlisting my unsolicited query.

Will this ever happen?”- ¨no.¨

My real author friend, Tanya Batt encouraged me to host some workshops at her story center.  I took her up on it.  The children loved, it which was a relief. So with more confidence I submitted.

After a while I decided that there were two choices: continue to query or self publish. I chose to self publish.  ¨It will be easy!¨ I thought, and planned on getting the books out before Christmas 09.

Well, learning to self publish, hire an illustrator, learn about layout, costing, web sites, social media etc. took six months longer than I thought.

In few days, we will have all five books.  In the end, James was my technical guru and project manager. He can even almost cheerlead a bit.  He is at times, more excited than I.

I am glad I kept him. We are a team.  James, Narae,  Sharon, Lightning Source, friends, family, teachers and children and all working together.  I couldn’t do it, James was right, but we could.  It takes more than one person to form a village. It was a long (almost four-year long) road to that realization.


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