Who would have thought it would be the formatting that would do me in. The simple, yet seemingly impossible task of placing page numbers on the pages as they should properly appear in books. You know, with the roman numerals grandly marking the preface, and the number 1 positioned neatly at the bottom of the first page of chapter 1. Not to mention the alternating headers, with every other page marking the author name and the book’s name. Yet, the melt-down was inevitable at some point. The feeling of being so close to birthing, after having labored for so long, but still having that final lip, or hurdle, removed is something I have experienced before. And, like this birthing, it felt like a failure.
It’s all coming back to me now. The memories of trying to birth my first child into the world without help are in so many ways mirrored in this birthing of my first book. But it goes back much further in time. To the five year old child who knew with a fierce, yet secret conviction that she was here to write books. And even further, to the fetus who knew rejection before birth, and held onto the feeling long after. She holds onto it now. When we hold onto a belief, it becomes our truth, and true to form, that fetus became a child, and later an adult, who experienced multiple forms of rejection. Or so that was her perception.
This birthing has taken, in essence, my lifetime to date. It is my story of truth and all the entanglements that have had to be unwoven, then rewoven in new form, to get there. It took me many years to write and rewrite. Over and over again, in an effort to birth a perfect form, while knowing that perfection is impossible to achieve. It took the acceptance of failure, or at least failure in the form I had always imagined. To set aside the dream of having one’s book accepted and published by a “real” publisher is something I’ve had to accept, only I realize now that I have not fully accept this, which feels like another huge form of rejection. It feels like a failure as a writer, especially perhaps, one who has an MFA. You see, we writers who have been trained to be writers, are conditioned to believe that you are not a real, credible writer, unless you obtain a “real” publisher to support your work.
So that is something else I need to let go of, along with the notion that I have no idea what will happen after I do get over the last, seemingly insurmountable, hurdle to self-publish my book. There is, of course, the possibility of another failure, or at least in my perception, of the book, once birthed, not making its way out into the world. I’m not going to lie, having only a couple of dozen copies of the book purchased will feel like a failure, if that is its fate. Yet, birth it I must. I know I have no choice. It is the fetus, now formed into a full-term baby, pushing its way out of the birthing canal. I can feel its pull to get out of me. It squirms with release, yet there is a lip that pushes against it, holding it back, for now.