A Celebration and Some Big News

Friends and Family,

There are a couple big events happening today, and I want to share them with you. First, today is my cancerversary. It has been eleven years since I was diagnosed! We are celebrating! When I was first diagnosed, we couldn’t even think about getting to my first cancerversary, let alone my eleventh! At the beginning, I didn’t even know what a cancerversary was.

We have another reason to get excited, and the timing is perfect. I have wanted to tell you this for so long that I could hardly stand it:

I have written a book!

Of course, it’ about living with lung cancer. This is not something I sat down and wrote one weekend and decided was good enough. I have been working on this for over four years. I have written and re-written. After that, I hired an editor, Kate Brubeck. With her help, I got the book in final form and  ready for publishing. I reached out to a dozen publishers and a dozen agents who trade in my genre. After getting no response, I read what is considered to be the bible for getting your work published: The Writer’s Market. I could have saved a lot of work If I had started there. I learned that it is extremely difficult to get non-fiction published unless the writer already has a “platform” – ready access to a large number of people who already know you and are eager for your work.

That set me on my heels. I sat on that book for nearly a year while I thought about what to do next. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that I needed to self-publish. I emailed Kate to tell her of my decision, and told her that I was going to re-write some chapters and add some new ones. Her response? “Ah! So you’re a writer!”

So that’s what I did. I re-wrote, and added chapters where I had seen some holes. I sent these changes off to her, expecting to get back grammatical corrections and typos fixed. She did all that, but there was more.

Kate challenged me to dig a little deeper, and share a little more. She suggested adding some new elements that would be included in every chapter. Not only that, but Kent, a friend whom I had asked to preview the book, suggested that I organize the chapters in a more cohesive way. I took both suggestions to heart, and set to work.  

Several months and countless hours (days?) at my computer later, I was finally ready. I re-submitted my baby to Kate. But… the timing wasn’t right. Kate had a big project in her lap, which meant I had to hold my breath for another month until she was free. (This is difficult to do with only one and a half lungs.) Finally, she was able to get back to my project. Of course, there was plenty of red ink on the typos and grammar, but those were all minor. The important part was that she loved the changes. Since the change was fairly radical from where I had started, I was both relieved and excited.

As you can tell (and probably expected), I have put a lot of heart into this book. It is not a compilation of my emails/blog stories. In fact, about 95% of the content is new. However, I won’t tell you more about it… yet.

I have learned that writing is only half of the work. There is still much to do to format and prepare the book for self-publishing. In stories where I used people’s real names, I sent out the chapter and asked permission. There is plenty of legwork to be done to get the marketing in place. While the writing is finally done as of today, my eleventh cancerversary, there is this one more phase to complete to finally get this baby out into the world.

I’ll be cranking on this for the coming weeks. Long before I’m finished with that, I will have my next CT scan. I’m hoping that I will have even more to celebrate the next time I write.

Hoping that you have plenty to celebrate in your life, too. Big or small, what is bringing joy to your world today?