I signed off on the book galleys of My Vertical Neighborhood a week ago. It required a deep breath and a certain amount of dismissing the ridiculous yet niggling voices in my head (“it’s not good enough…you’ve missed something…are you sure you’re done?). I’ve learned to pay attention to niggling voices – sometimes they are trying tell me something important. But sometimes they are just wrong and need to be silenced. I need Wisdom to shoo them away.
In the case of the galleys, I’m relieved I’m not the only one judging what finished, or good enough, looks like. I am not the only one determining it is now time to send my words into the jowls of a printing press. I am not the only one convinced the nurturing is done; the story doesn’t need me to tell it anymore.
Until the book officially launches on March 30, digital copies are landing in the inboxes of independent reviewers. This week, a New York publicist sent me an email asking if I’d like to use their services, since she’d read a review of my book in Publisher’s Weekly. Another voice to help silence the niggling ones.
In the meantime, all my words are in the process of being bound into a book with stitching and covers, imprinted onto pages beyond the reaches of the delete key. There’s nothing virtual about sending a book to the printer. It signals a full stop, an ending outside of my control, unlike with blog writing or e-book publishing where I appreciate the fact that nothing need ever be fully finished. Where I can always edit, fix, revise.
For years, that’s what I’ve been doing with this project. In fact, I’ve more often referred to it as my book project, not simply my book. Somehow, that phrase gave me a sense there wouldn’t be an ending, that I could keep on pondering and writing and revising forever. But when I signed off on the galleys – the printing-press formatted pages of my manuscript – I knew that this was no longer a project. It was about to become a book, solid enough to hold in my hands, to put on a shelf, to wrap as a gift or mail to a friend.
Thankfully, I’ve been able to silence the niggling voices in my head because I’m blessed with more than enough external voices assuring me that the book is finished and ready to make its way in the world. Seven years ago the idea for the book was birthed in community, a community that expanded with every stage of the project. All along the way, generous friends, family, and other writers have read chapters, sometimes the whole manuscript, and given me honest feedback.
All through 2020, I worked with Ethan McCarthy, a thoughtful and precise editor at InterVarsity Press. We passed at least five versions of my manuscript back and forth between us, each one an improvement on the last. Once we’d agreed the manuscript was ready for more eyes, a group of people read it and wrote endorsements. I will forever be indebted to them for their encouragement. Now the book moves into the world under the guidance of IVP’s team of sharp, passionate and experienced book-producing people. I appreciate the offer from that New York publicist, but my book already is already in good hands.
To pre-order My Vertical Neighborhood, ask your independent bookstore to contact IVP. You can also order directly from Amazon.ca in Canada, or IVP in the US. If you are elsewhere in the world, I hope you can order from a source that makes sense to you!