My big project over the past few years (more than I thought it would take!) has been to take blog posts and writings and turn them into a unified book of essays. I have this vision that each essay could stand alone and be enjoyed in a single, short reading period, but that taken together, they will be more than the sum of their parts, a collection of essays that also has a narrative arc of a modern working woman who seeks balance.
One of the agents to whom I wrote last week wanted the first 3-5 pages of the manuscript. I revised them a bit and sent them off. And then I thought, hmm, maybe I should just keep going. I wanted to try to do a read-through and revision over just a few days. I wanted to read it the way I thought a regular reader might. I wasn't expecting that I might have major revisions to do, and so I thought I could accomplish my goal.
So, from Friday to Monday, I did just that: I read and made minor edits. What did I learn?
--I'm pleased to say that it reads well. I worried that each chapter might say the same thing or that I'd have basically 5 essays, repeated over and over again. That was not the case. I circled back around to major themes, but I think it worked.
--I liked the seasonal organization, both the liturgical season, the cycle of feast days, and the seasons of nature and secular holidays.
--I was surprised by how many minor errors I found: spelling errors, extra words, verb tense errors. It's nothing major, but I thought I had already caught most of those.
--I knew that some of my essays are montages of blog posts and writing for the Living Lutheran site. I wanted to make sure that I had sewed them together seamlessly. I am pleased to report that I saw no loose stitches.
--Was I successful with the narrative arc part? I think so. Will it appeal to people who like a unified memoir that reads like a novel? Less so.
--In my busy times, I need a book that I can dip in and out of. I need to be able to be away from the book for a month or more, but not need to start over when I return. In that, I was successful.
--I worried that my essays would be too short. I don't feel like they are. Some of them are more developed. Some of them are perfect for the few minutes of reading time I have at the end of the day.
--The book begins with the end of Christmas, and at the end of the book we're back to Christmas. I like that.
So, my overall impression: I like this book. I'm so relieved. As I've been working on it, I've been assailed by doubts, just like everyone. I've had those mean voices in my head that hissed, "This is stupid. Why would anyone care about any of this? Why are you wasting your time this way?"
But those voices were wrong. My book has appeal. This project has been worth my time.
Best Essay Collections of 2017 by Women Authors
5 months ago