Finally I got the email from Shambhala. Put simply, they weren't psyched. The way we'd framed the book was too political. And Shambhala doesn't publish political books - like, ever.
(This is the last part in a multi-part series. For Part 1, please click here.)
Reading back on that email now, after we've signed the contract and handed in the first draft and worked with Jenn on edits and it's almost a sure thing that this whole is actually probably happening, I can see that it was all moving forward just about as smoothly as it could.
Still, something about being in the process makes perspective difficult. And so, as I went back and reworked everything I'd written, as I steered it away from politics and more toward surviving modern life, I didn't feel the least bit sure that it would work at all.
Long story short: It did work.
As before, Jenn and I volleyed. I wrote. She edited. I wrote. Then she showed it around the office and she emailed me every week or two while it made the rounds for the entire month of October and into November. And then, finally, on November 15th, seemingly out of the blue, Jenn sent us a contract.
From there, things fell into place. The team at Shambhala decided to make our book a lead for the Spring 2020 catalog. Which meant a manuscript due date of February 1st. And so Devon and I sat down and hashed out how we'd write a book together in ten weeks.
We decided I'd take the lead on the first draft. That I'd more or less interview her for stories, themes, studies, meditations, and all the rest. Write it all up. Send it to Jenn. And then, when we got back the edits, Devon would step in and integrate all the new ideas and themes and such to make sure her voice, perspective, and experiences were fully in the mix.
So that's what we did. In between flying between islands for my job as a psychologist-intern, I buckled down during November, December, and half of January and wrote a whole lot of words on this theme of staying sane while the whole world spins off its axis.
We handed in the manuscript on January 15th. Got back our edits. Devon just finished infusing the work with her special blend of wisdom and charm. And this weekend I'm headed into a four day "writing retreat" to polish off this version before sending it back to Jenn for another round of edits.
Next step: a couple of readers. Integrate their comments. And then . . . well, it's due in April sometime, so at some point I guess we'll have to call the thing done . . .
Oh! And we have a title, finally, after about 7 weeks of back and forth between Devon and me and Jenn and Shambhala's marketing department and a Facebook poll and far too many discussions and far too many bad ideas. And that title is:
HOW NOT TO BE A HOT MESS
A Semi-Buddhist Guide for Surviving Modern Life
As I said on Facebook the other day, if there's one thing we've learned from this topsy turvy extravaganza, it's that publishing is a team sport. Getting on the Shambhala team was a little like going to tryouts. (If tryouts lasted six months.) But now that we're on the team, it feels fabulous. These guys have published all our heroes, from Joseph Goldstein to Roshi Joan Halifax to Pema Chodron.
For now we’re loving being a part of it all, soaking up the wisdom of all the folks we get to work with, sharing ideas, and maybe even making something that will hopefully help some people. We’ll keep keeping you updated along the way . . .
All the best,