Summer’s embers. What does that mean? It means summer is burning down, petering out, ending (it’s done)—but what do we know about embers? Embers smolder, they keep burning even when the fire is mostly out. Embers glow in the night, in darkness, hot coals in relief. Embers hold on to their fire.
This summer, I had my ember moment.
For ten years, I have been writing a book in one form or another. Ten years of lighting the pages and then burning myself down. Ten years that resulted in the completion of an unpublished memoir and a second memoir, I DON’T DO DISABILITY AND OTHER LIES I’VE TOLD MYSELF, a complete new book, in the form of a collection of essays. Art feeds on art, and so fanned the flames.
In the dying days of my summer vacation in Greece I knew this: my manuscript of essays was complete. I read the book twice over before I left, having written and polished the individual essays over years. I spent two weeks prior to the trip feverishly sending out queries to desirable publishers. Their responses could take months, years even. I wasn’t sure if I could wait. But of course I could wait; I’ve been waiting for ten years.
The email came in Greece as I was sitting in a chaise lounge on the beach reading a book, the day late, the sun winding down, the waves calm and rhythmically lapping the shore. I reached for my phone, opened my emails, and saw the new message at the top, the one from the publisher. I read the first two sentences and burst into tears. I could barely contain my emotion to read through the rest of that email. What did it say? It wasn’t a book deal, no, not yet—but the editor’s words held the real promise of one. And I knew, full stop inside of my being, that I DON’T DO DISABILITY AND OTHER LIES I’VE TOLD MYSELF was going to be published. I felt this truth burn inside me.
Several months prior, I was talking to a literary journal editor about my book. I was so certain about the need for my work on disability parenting and motherhood and being a woman, and my determination to make myself and my daughter seen, that when I paused, the editor looked me in the eye and said, “It’s already done.” I didn’t have a book deal or a connection or anything tangible to know for certain that publication would happen, but I believed in the work. I believed fiercely in my work.
What that email on the beach said was I SEE YOU. Not in those words, but in how the publishing editor described my book, in how she wanted to take my project on, in how she wrote, “Can we talk?” And isn’t that what everybody wants? To be seen and heard for their ideas and who they are? To be understood?
And so in this quiet and intimate way, I am sharing with you the story of how I came to get my first book deal. I DON’T DO DISABILITY AND OTHER LIES I’VE TOLD MYSELF has found a home with Dundurn Press, a Toronto based publisher I deeply admire. Release date to come, stay tuned.
I am no longer that ember, close to burning out.
I am pure celebration; fireworks, shooting across the sky.