Community September 1, 2023
I hope your Summer was longer than mine! Where did it go? Okay, having said that (and got it out of my system) I wanted to discuss the importance of Community, to me and my writing.
If you read my past blogs, you know I am working on my next book. Since the process starts in every author's head and eventually ends up in print, the value of community may not be fully realized until later. This was the case with the upcoming book. All the elements of writing a book are a collaboration beyond the first (...second?...third?) edit.
These "author edits" really get me thinking. With this book about South Carolina coastal ecology, I initially relied on my ability to visit and see, first hand, the places and characters I wanted for this story. Then, I utilized my research skills to keep moving forward. Being the eternal student, digital fact bits just didn't feel right or enough. So, where could I go?
I am always a believer in Divine intervention, which puts answers in front of me to see if I'm paying attention. I was trying to keep a pretty good pace to move this book along. The Universe laughed and I heard!
There were lots of "moving parts" already. A brand new illustrator who is a fantastic artist was the first addition to my plan. She and I knew each other already and I had admired her talent. Illustrating a book for middle schoolers would take a good deal of coaching, agreements and contracts to make this happen. We both needed patience and dedication for this to come to fruition.
Then there's the anthropomorhism element to the story. Could I really make the threatened or endagered animals believable? Could they come across as I envisioned? This requires the ability think like each character, who just happens to be an animal.
The more I wrote and coached the illustrator, the more I knew I needed some coaching on all these characters. Books and websites just did not seem enough, though there were plenty. Where could I turn? I was begining to contemplate that this project was not going to happen on my original time line. (Ya think!?)
Oh, did I mention that my darling partner, John, wanted to travel anywhere and everywhere now that restrictions were gone. It was good that we had lots of timeshare banked to trade and bring us closer to more local places such as Charleston, Hilton Head, Edisto, Defusky Island and Florida coastal regions. I would get to see/observe many of the animals first hand. These trips brought invaluable texture to the story line, thanks to John's insistence, over my resistence!
So, here's the next place that I was sure I heard the Universe laughing: How could I get expert advice on each of the animals? As we prepared for another trip in June for a family wedding up north, I saw a newsletter post about an "open house" at the Marine Resources Research Institute in Charleston. They were holding this event on the same day I would be at a wedding over 700 miles north. I heard the chuckle... or was it a snicker? Never being one to miss an opportunity for "Go big or go home," I reached out to the Director of the Institute. What's the worst case scenario? The answer might be, "No, sorry." Now the Universe was smiling with contentment.
This woman was enthusiastic about my request for the specific feedback I was asking about... I just had to wait a bit longer. She and her teams were into "reporting season" on all the research they were doing over the past year. My response was, "Yes, of course I can wait! Thank you!" That's when I heard the distinct sigh of relief as the Universe realized I loosened my grip on "my" timeline.
One would think I know with every fiber of my being, the phrase, " in due time." I now admit this next book will likely be out in the Spring of 2024. Things remaining on the "To Do List":
Send manuscript to the children's book Editor
Decide on book cover
Decide on where the book will be published and if I will format
Write an amazing dedication to all the people from the South Carolina
Department of Natural Resources
Pack for next trip John has planned (It's a doozy!)
Make certain there's enough funds to cover all of the above!
Thank you, Universe and all the wonderful people you placed in my life to keep me in check!
Halina Schafer, Author
Third-Career Press, LLC