Yesterday I turned in my final approvals and mark-ups of my copyedited manuscript. I was a little nervous about the feedback I would receive. What if there were so many mistakes that we had to slow down the publication process? What if the writing itself needed more work than originally thought? What if the content itself wasn’t interesting?
Like everything else I worry about, none of that happened. In fact, my publisher sent a really touching comment from the copyeditor:
“This inspiring memoir traces the author’s journey through mental illness, alcohol abuse, and challenging relationships with the help of taekwondo, a Korean martial arts form. Told with humor and disarming honesty, it captures the reader’s attention with a lively style and sound writing. (It also has a great title.)”
It does have a great title, doesn’t it?
The content itself was fine, and the writing was solid. The errors she corrected were minor things like commas or missing words. Apparently “gray” is the correct spelling according to the Chicago Manual of Style, and you never, I mean never, use the word “towards.” Some English major I am.
Over the past few months I’ve begun to appreciate prose in a way that I hadn’t before. Much like how our ear delights in a melody or the rhythm of lyrics, I’ve started to pick up on the music of written language. When something flows beautifully or even just in a funny way it really catches my eye and sticks in my mind. Reviewing and reflecting on my copyeditor’s corrections helped me think more carefully about the words I choose and the phrases I craft.
Turns out I wrote a pretty good book.
I am pleased to officially announce that I am now a contracted author with She Writes Press*. We are set to publish my memoir Kicking and Screaming: a Memoir of Madness and Martial Artsspring 2021.
Kicking and Screamingtells the story of my emotional and mental transformation as I began taekwondo training and successfully tested for my first degree black belt. Some lessons came naturally; others were learned the hard way. Taekwondo has indelibly changed me inside and out, and I am so grateful to the life I’ve been able to build because of it….and my book is funny…at least I think it is.
I so greatly appreciate the support and encouragement I’ve received from my readers over the last five years. I’m glad my stories have given insight, ideas, and inspiration to people around the world. Taekwondo is not just punching and kicking. It is a lifestyle, a philosophy, and a mindset. The indomitable spirit of taekwondo is available to everyone, whether or not you ever set foot in a dojang.
I will be providing periodic updates on my main blog Little Black Belt: https://littleblackbelt.com, and this site: Kicking and Screaming The Book. Tentative publication date is spring 2021.
A thank you, a bow, and a fist bump to all of you. It’s finally happening!!!
*”She Writes Press is an independent publishing company founded to serve members of SheWrites.com, the largest global community of women writers online, and women writers everywhere. She Writes Press is both mission-driven and community-oriented, aiming to serve writers who wish to maintain greater ownership and control of their projects while still getting the highest quality editorial help possible for their work.”
–She Writes Press Author Handbook 2019
Please take some time to learn about this wonderful women-driven company at http://shewritespress.com.
You guys, I am DYING to give a very exciting update…but I want to get all my proverbial ducks in a row first. 😉 Hang tight, because a dream come true is about to happen!
Heart pounding and breath held, I just submitted my work to be reviewed by She Writes Press. This company is a hybrid publisher that promotes female authors. I first became aware of this company when I took a course titled “Write Your Memoir in Six Months.” One of the instructors is the co-founder of this company and has been an excellent mentor along the way as well as my other coach in the class.
Last summer I submitted my work to about 60 literary agents. I got one bite of interest and was ultimately rejected with some very helpful feedback. It was disappointing, but it was also the impetus to take a very critical look at my writing and challenge myself to make it (1) tell my story in a more artful and cohesive way and (2) make it more appealing to a broader audience. While the memoir is of course about a chapter in my life, it’s not meant to be private diary entries. What I hope to do is let other people who are going through similar struggles know that they are not alone.
Plus I want to be funny…mostly that.
As of 1:50 PM on May 25, 2019, I have completed my most recent and most thorough edit of Kicking and Screaming: a Memoir of Madness and Martial Arts! I made much-needed changes based on some valuable feedback I’d gotten from an agent last year. While the process took longer than I’d hoped, I feel very satisfied with the end product.
It’s been four years since the events (both taekwondo and non-taekwondo) in the book took place, and I value the objectivity time and distance has given me. Some elements in my personal life that seemed so looming at the time were in the end not relevant to the story. Ultimately my story is my transformation through the vehicle of taekwondo. I think with this new edit I’ve been able to more clearly share the lessons I’ve learned and the challenges I’ve overcome. I think I’ll be able to better strike a chord with readers who have either shared my experience or simply find interest in my story.
The work is far from finished! I now need to rewrite my proposal and begin the process of tracking and contacting editors. While I’m still shying away from self-publishing, I’m expanding my reach to indie and hybrid publishers.
Thank you to those of you both online and in person who have supported me through this process.
Not long ago a writing mentor of mine cautioned her social media followers about writing with “vengeance.” Many memoirists tell stories of abuse, conflict, or other painful situations. Part of the craft of successful memoir writing is being able to tell the story, even a difficult one, without getting lost in venting for revenge.
I began writing my memoir around the spring and summer of 2015. As I’ve re-edited and reflected I’ve seen more opportunities to become objective about some fo the relationships I describe in my book. A memoir isn’t a place to complain about other people or paint oneself as the blameless victim (I use my journal for that, ha ha). Having some time from the events that occurred has changed my perspective not on what happened but how I choose to portray it. I am also forced to admit the flaws in my own personality and choices.
I sometimes can’t believe that four years have gone by since I finished the first draft of my book. Having a full-time job and a part-time taekwondo career keeps me pretty busy! Perhaps I’d be published by now if I weren’t busy, you know, paying my mortgage and electricity bills. But I’m thankful for the time I’ve had to improve my writing and gain a more detached perspective of both the good and bad things that happened while I was training for my black belt.
Last year I shopped my book to several agencies and publishing companies. After initially expressing interest, an agent I had contacted ultimately claimed she could not represent my book. She said my book had some pacing problems–too slow in some places, and too rushed in others. It was a humbling experience and great feedback. Since then I’ve been working my way back through the book line by line to make improvements.
In addition to re-editing, having some time between the real events that occurred in the book (2013-2015) has given me a different and more objective perspective. There were moments of sadness and anger that swept me up not only in the actual moments, but in the re-telling of those moments. Now that four years have passed I’ve been able to reflect with a storyteller’s eyes.
To be truly honest, it was quite a disappointment to be rejected from the agent, but you have to have some no’s to get to yes, right? If I hadn’t gotten that feedback I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to make my book a better representation of my story and create a better end-product for my readers.
At some point I will have to let the editing process go and be brave enough to share it with others again…but not yet.