Somehow I got into the habit of referring to my memoir as “my baby.” Last year I even teased my pregnant daughter-in-law that I wanted to have my baby before she had hers because I’d been pregnant longer.
She beat me by a whole year. As it turns out, Warrior Mother was released on my granddaughter’s first birthday, August 28, 2013. Now I’m getting to learn what happens for a writer when her baby has finally been birthed.
Like a new mother of a human baby, the arrival of the offspring is just the beginning of a new author’s life. This is not the season to give oneself over to shyness or uncertainty. Both books and babies need lots of tender loving care after they arrive so that eventually they can live on their own. And that’s what we wish for our creations, that they will someday be able to live without us.
“So what now?” People ask. “What’s your next writing project?” That question feels like someone asking my daughter-in-law on the way home from the hospital, “So what now? When will you have your next baby?” I am continuing to write but at this point my writing skills are being used in the service of the baby I’ve just had.
I’m busy exploring ways to introduce my new offspring to friends, family, and community. Since my book is autobiographical, I’ve been a frequent visitor at the post office, mailing signed copies to some of the people who appear in my book, people whose stories have been important in the telling of my own. I’m gifting copies to people who helped to midwife this baby; to edit and advise, to read early drafts, to endorse, and to provide encouragement when it seemed I would be in labor forever. As all successful published writers can attest, it takes a couple of small villages to bring a new entity into the world and help it find its place in it.
Moving toward sharing Warrior Mother with people who don’t know me personally, I’ve been collaborating with my son on the creation of a book trailer. Like a movie trailer, we hope this minute and a half excerpt will entice people to purchase a ticket to the experience of reading the book. Our collaboration, going through family pictures that illustrate some of the events described in the book, has turned out to be, for each of us, an extension of the healing that took place for me throughout the process of writing the book. Now, as I prepare to use my skills as an improvisational artist and “perform the book” in my hometown and at an independent bookstore in Scotland, it won’t be long before I’ll be able to see the impact my baby will make in its readers’ lives.
* * *
Sheila K. Collins is a dancer, social worker and improvisational performance artist. In Warrior Mother: Fierce Love, Unbearable Loss and Rituals that Heal (She Writes Press), Sheila shares how she got through the loss of two of her grown children. See Sheila in action with her performance troupe at TedX Pittsburgh, friend her on Facebook, and Tweet her @SheilaKCollins.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!