Let it go...
Last week I was asked to let go of something; something I never thought I'd have in the first place. Something that has helped me to define myself and who I would like to be. It has given me aspirations and purpose. I've been wondering whether this is the right place to talk about it but hey, I decided, let's do it. I'm not ashamed.
I have been asked to terminate my publishing contract. I'm going to refer to it in terms of a romantic relationship, even though it's not, because it might be easier to define what letting go of it means. This relationship began because I won a competition. I won the relationship itself and the chance to give birth to new life in the form of a book. It took this book a year to grow in my imagination and be written, all 90,000 words of it. This was a honeymoon year; with lots of appreciation and terms of endearment both ways. A magical year full of hope and promise.
Once born, my publisher-partner and I rejoiced. The book was fed and clothed and made to look pretty so that other people would hopefully love it too. Now despite initial efforts and quite a few people who loved it like I did, there wasn't enough time for me as its parent to take it out to show off (mainly because I'd actually also given birth to a real life baby – my second child) and to coincide with this, after its second year of publication sales had dwindled. Sadly, my publisher-partner's communication was gradually dwindling also. When I had won the competition, he had only a few partner-authors in his care but while I was writing it and after, his book family grew and grew. Of course, I had understood that we were not mutually exclusive so I was fine with the poly-amorous relationship and growing array of different offspring. However, I found that some of my emails were never answered, and others only after months of waiting and I realised slowly and with a sinking heart that my publisher-partner was falling out of love with me. I tried not to become bitter. My book-baby was not the favourite but that was okay because I still loved it. But love doesn't make the world go round if you want to make a living as an author – or as a publisher for that matter.
So over the following year, I immersed myself in parenting my real children and working part-time. Then in 2018 I quit work, went on a journey of self-discovery and started my own business based on my true passion: writing. Everything looked peachy and I'd come to accept that ours was a relationship of few words. Until last week when I received the email. I'd been dumped. My initial feeling was one of failure. 'I've not made it work', I thought. 'I've done my best but it wasn't good enough', I groaned. Then Shit FM started kicking in: “You're not good enough, Sibby. You'll never give birth to a book-baby again. No-one will take care of it for you. Find something else to do!” But you know what? Instead of feeding the self-pity I switched the damn radio off and read the email again.
It laid the situation out plain and simple. My publisher-partner was no longer fulfilled and wanted to move on, cut his losses. It must have been clear from the past two sales statements that the relationship was floundering. He wanted different things, to focus on his other 'children'. He said it had been a pleasure; that he wished me all the luck, that he was giving me back all the rights to my book-baby so I was free to do what I wanted with it; to take it anywhere. Free! I realised that yes, this was an ending, but also a new beginning. Thanks to this relationship, I can always and forever ad infinitum call myself a published author. I can pick up and hold and smell and thumb my very own novel, that I wrote myself from the heart and gave birth to through my own imaginative labours.
I have a beautiful book-baby which I know would never have been born without my publisher-partner nurturing its very beginnings. I can hold my head high and thank him from the bottom of my soul for the opportunity he gave me four years ago; that his faith in me at that time gave me the chance to go on a journey I could only dream of before. That every time I look at my first book-baby I can rejoice in its existence and know that its future is in my hands.
So a while ago I started to grow another book-baby. This one sort of implanted itself; it needed no other parent for its conception. It's taking its time in there; it's having a good look around. But it's definitely growing. It's taken longer than a year already, it's definitely very comfortable in there. But that's okay, because while it grows it gets more and more beautiful. It has to come out one day of course; there's nowhere else for it to go. It's getting too big for my head and too expansive for my heart. One day it will be ready to meet the world. And I suspect, when that day comes and I feel ready to find a suitable publisher-partner, that we will do this together, and maybe its older sibling will want to come too. And we will all link arms and embrace the future; a family bound together with love, and thousands and thousands of words.