Wanna find out how it feels when a debut author is anticipating the release of her book? Beth shares to us her thoughts about it!
They say it’s like having a baby – the initial excitement, the long wait, and eventual flurry of pain, relief, exhilaration, and exhaustion. I suppose this is as good a metaphor as any and yet, even though I’ve had four kids of my own, the best preparation I could have had for the experience of writing a book and having it published has been the nearly thirty years I spent as an organic vegetable farmer.
People I knew were pretty surprised when I told them I planned to quit farming, was resigning as manager of the farmers market and director of the not-for-profit I had founded, and that I hoped to become a writer. They were further surprised to discover that I had no intentions of writing about agriculture (at least, not directly!) or sustainability or community planning or any of the other topics I’d devoted my career to so far. What they really couldn’t have known, though – and I didn’t either – was that the experience of farming had, in many unpredicted ways, prepared me well for some of the things I would need to learn as a new author.
Like patience. Is there anyone who truly considers themselves patient? I certainly tried my best to be patient with my kids. And farming is nothing if not an exercise in patience. You know those gorgeous red-ripe tomatoes you love to buy at the farmers market? Well, we farmers plant those seeds in February, nurture baby plants along until they can tolerate the outdoors, weed around them for months, watch them carefully as they ripen, finally bring them to customers a good six months later. And none of this includes the months before spent perusing seed catalogs, selecting varieties, comparing records, crunching numbers, or the previous years dedicated to creating a fertile garden in the first place.
Writing a book is nearly exactly like that. It’s a whole lot of ‘hurry up and wait.’ All of your experiences have collided to create this book in the first place. You’ve spent varying amounts of time getting those perfect words recorded. And you certainly have an idea of what your ultimate goal might be (a published book!) But even once you’ve done the research to determine where to send the manuscript, even after you’ve found an agent and the agent has sold your book to a publisher, there are so many steps along the way and so many chunks of time when you are simply waiting for the process to unfold.
I guess that’s why they call it ‘practicing’ patience.
And still, for all your best efforts in identifying and pursuing all the necessary resources, you really have very little control over the outcome. Some of it certainly comes down to hard work, some of it is timing, and some of it is just simply dumb luck (sort of like the weather.) And though it may be kind of hard to believe, that’s actually a good thing – recognizing that all you can ensure is the integrity of the process, the quality of the relationships built along the way.
In many ways, that’s been the best part of becoming a writer and the part where my farming experience has turned out to be most relevant. It doesn’t matter how perfect that tomato turns out to be if nobody ever picks it up, admires it, savors the lovely flavor. Especially with organic farming, each vegetable is truly a labor of love. It matters who eats it, who shares with you a recipe they used to prepare it, who comes back to find more just like it. And writing is the same way.
Authors care what people think. A book is a special kind of relationship, characterized by the nature of the story, the voice chosen to tell it and the total vulnerability we risk to present it. In the same way that my farmers market customers wanted to be connected to the food they ate and the people who grew it, readers seek stories that will make them feel connected to something larger than themselves, that tell them something about the world of the author, the world as a whole, and, maybe more importantly, something about themselves. I am honored by the opportunity to give that to them. And of course, that’s exactly what authors want too and are willing to go to a whole lot of trouble to get it.
One of my most favorite posts in our blog event, Beth gives us a great insight on how authors feel whenever their book is ready to come out in the world for all readers to get their hands into. Thank you, Beth!
Getting Somewhere by Beth Neff
Add Getting Somewhere to your Goodreads list!
Four girls: dealer, junkie, recluse, thief.
Sarah, Jenna, Lauren, and Cassie may look like ordinary girls, but they’re not. They’re delinquents whose lives collide when they’re sent to an experimental juvenile detention program on a farm in the middle of nowhere. As the girls face up to the crimes they committed, three of them will heal the wounds of their pasts and discover strengths they never dreamed they had. And one, driven by a deep secret of her own, will seek to destroy everything they’ve all worked so hard for.
Getting Somewhere is published by Viking Childrens Books, released January 19th 2012.
WIN A SIGNED COPY OF GETTING SOMEWHERE BY BETH NEFF!
Beth was kind enough to have the copy signed and guess what? It is OPEN INTERNATIONALLY!
As always, all you have to do is fill out the form below and answer this:
What's the lowest point you've ever been in your life and how did you overcome it?
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I will be posting my review for this fantastic book tomorrow so watch out for that and goodluck!