At Last!

Photo by Wojciech Celiński

Finally! It’s done.

Six years of writing, getting my manuscript workshopped by my first-rate writing group, and revising and editing until I no longer see what’s on the page clearly any more… Always a passionate storyteller, I used to share my favorite stories of teaching at dinner parties and family gatherings. Now they’re organized into a teaching memoir being published by Politics & Prose.

This book has incubated in my head for so long that I can’t quite wrap my head around its publication later this fall. I’m working with my point person on the cover, seeing a long-time vision finally coming to fruition.

It has been 26 years since I published my second textbook about writing. I wrote my first text on a Mac Classic in the early 90’s. I had to send the floppy disks to my editor by snail mail then, and, in the days before background printing, I had to stop writing whenever I printed new documents. The current ease of communication and revision has been a godsend. I’ve loved revisiting the experiences that stood out for me, even those that made me squirm.

And I find myself thinking about my Advanced Placement literature students and their struggle to complete their I-Search papers. Less than six months instead of more than six years, yet the same kind of mountain to climb. They got to pick an author and book that touched them personally. Their papers had three sections:

  • The story of their search: what they knew when they began, what they wanted to know, and the research process they used to learn, including dead ends
  • What they learned and how they related to their book
  • Their reflections on the process and its impact on them.

More personal than the traditional research paper and certainly more time-consuming and intimidating, the I-Search absorbed my students for more than a semester. As they completed their work, many of them grew euphoric. I usually enjoyed reading about their journeys, and I appreciated their commitment to stick with the work until they were done. They climbed their own mountains with their efforts.

Here I am, in the final stretch, with the hardest work done. I seek the euphoria they enjoyed… Like their papers, this book is very personal to me. I’m certainly enjoying focusing on details like cover design. I certainly appreciate the lack of constant deadlines, albeit self-imposed, that I’ve faced for so long. But I’m still stumbling about in disbelief. I can’t remember not being consumed with this manuscript.

Some time this fall, though, I will be holding my book in my hand at last! I can’t wait.