In the Hero’s Journey, there are challenges meted out, tests thrown at the Hero by circumstances, individuals, and tasks to be completed. Through some of them the Hero’s innocence is often a sort of protection, while in others, it means the learning of important lessons. The whole of the story, however, is a growing process, the development of character and the learning about self.
I wasn’t ready for the experience that was now coming at me. College had prepared me for some things, certainly not for others. I was still taking very small tentative steps and planning on a rather hard slow climb, but here was this huge leap, and all I could do was hang on and hope for the best, whatever that might mean.
The contract arrived with all of its incredible legalese language. I sat down, seriously, and read through its several pages, knowing full well that I didn’t comprehend most of it, but that I was certainly going to sign it anyway. I really didn’t know anyone I could ask for help about what I was doing and had gotten myself into, totally ignoring the fact that the young woman living with me had a paralegal certification and probably would have understood the language far better than myself. I wasn’t about to not sign the thing.
A few months later, I got the galley sheets of my poem and how it had been set up on the two pages it would fill. I was instructed to look it all over very carefully and to change whatever I felt needed changing. Two middle stanzas had been jammed together ignoring the space break I had originally put into the structure of the poem.
It took me a bit of time to figure out how to explain, in written form, what I actually wanted corrected, and I drew lines on the galley sheets, with arrows pointing to the placement I preferred to see. By the time I finished, it looked a bit of a mess and I simply crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. Far too concerned about telling people in the business about how to do their business, I missed something within the poem itself. It was one word, but it came back to haunt me later.
After sending the whole thing back, I once again settled into my normal routine and began waiting. Almost an entire year went by and I heard nothing more about the poem, or the book. At times, I wondered if Paper Mache Press had changed their minds, maybe finding a better poem for the anchor piece of the book. I did receive one very short note, telling me only that the book would probably be published and available by the end of the summer. Did that mean my poem was still in it? I didn’t have a clue.
A friend and I had decided to drive into Milwaukee to our favorite hamburger and ice cream place. We had to pass right by Barnes & Noble’s, and on the spur of the moment, we decided to stop and take a look at some things we were both interested in. She went off immediately, to the aisles where her interests were located, and I was meandering slowly in another direction.
I happened to look over at a colorful floor display, and realized that it was the book, my book, hundreds of copies stacked in and around a table. I just stood there for several minutes, staring at them, actually afraid to approach the display, holding my breath for fear it would all suddenly disappear. Was my poem actually in there? I hadn’t heard from the Press for so long, I didn’t know what to expect. I reached out my hand and realized it was trembling.
I don’t mean to make this sound so dramatic, but I had a streak of self-doubt inside of me, firmly planted when I was a child, and at that moment it was roaring through me more loudly than a frieght train. I was terrified to pick up the book, perhaps to discover that it had all been some huge mistake on my part, some kind of misunderstanding.
Finally, I had the book in my hands and slowly turned it over and opened it to the final pages. Yes, there it was, Front Porch Partners by Elizabeth Crawford. It was all real.
I promptly bought the book, found my friend, and went home to sit quietly and let the reality sink in.
(to be continued…)
Note: The book is still available at Amazon.