A book is a process. You write. You rewrite. Then you rewrite again.
Then you craft the press releases and the party invitations. And you write about the process of writing…
So it’s never really done. There’s always something more that you can do. But that’s sort of the story of life, isn’t it? You keep working to get better, but there’s always more work to do.
When I finished my rough draft, I shared it with some friends and colleagues for feedback. The first note I received said something like this: “Congratulations! You put a bunch of words on paper. Now go work on them until they are interesting.”
Ouch (a little). But that’s the goal of asking for help, right? To make it better. The worst feedback I could ever imagine is, “That’s nice. Good work.” Because it gives you no room to improve. Besides, the author of those words was right. I had blurted out a first draft. A rough framework. Now it needed revision and finesse to come to life.
I worked with a structural editor and made another pass. I trimmed here and added there. A friend put chapters on notecards and I moved them all around until the story arc made sense.
When I was reasonably certain it was a solid book, I started looking for a publisher. When Broadleaf Books acquired the manuscript, the work started again.
“Good luck watching strangers destroy your baby,” a writer friend replied when I told her I had a book deal in hand. I’d heard the horror stories. I knew the risks. But this wasn’t my experience.
The editing process with Broadleaf was thorough and every time we made another pass, the book improved. They wanted to trim 20,000 words, but they asked for notes to point out what I could let go of and what absolutely had to stay. My editor pushed me to add more detail. Dig deeper. Challenge myself as well as the reader. And each time, the book got better.
After 12 years of working on A Peace of My Mind and three years of writing Portraits of Peace, I feel like this book says what I want to say and it sounds like my voice in the process.
Now it’s time to celebrate.
Portraits of Peace will release on September 21, the International Day of Peace. That night we will celebrate in Bloomington, Minnesota with an in-person event and you’re invited.
Tickets are free, but you’ll need to register at this link.
I am proud of Portraits of Peace. It seems like the world both needs and wants Portraits of Peace. I hope you’ll join us for an evening of storytelling, music and hope.