I've been thinking about the above a lot lately. The book I'm editing with a great friend-editor-writer is almost complete. All we have left is a final pass through the entire manuscript, the introduction (my last bit), and the acknowledgments. I'm almost done with the final reading/editing and the introduction is outlined and ready to be attached, but the acknowledgments have me stymied.
I'm of two minds about this form of the literary thank you. The most base reaction sounds like this in my head:
"THANKS?! I'm supposed to give thanks?! You're joshing me, right? Because this book has eaten up a part of my soul. There's hours in this thing that I'm not getting back. Hours of temperate sunny weekends that had me curled up on my porch with this laptop in my face instead of tending to my new garden or walking in Loose Park. There's a couple of great books I didn't get to read last spring. I haven't kept up with our city government goings-on or the New York Times Book Review. I've only seen ONE movie this summer and I'm pretty sure some of my friends have deleted my phone number from their speed-dials. I haven't cooked a meal in the last eight months and I have friends and family glaring at me on Facebook for missing messages, phone calls, parties, and concerts.
And who did any of this work, anyway, besides me, Jessica, and the contributing writers? I don't see anyone else reading these chapters for me. No one wrote my chapter. I don't see anyone packing away my computer when I nod off over it. Or plugging it in when the battery runs down. No one corrected typos or formatted TOCs or researched citations but me."
That's my Id there. Say hello to my Id. Hi, Id. You can take your selfish self back inside now. We appreciate your contributions.
And the other half of my mind is frantic looking for the people to thank. I want to make sure I don't leave anyone out. I want to give everyone credit. But I'm not sure who they all are. Even my husband snorted and said, "I didn't do a damn thing to help you with this book. Don't thank me for anything."
Yet, it occurs to me, I have plenty of people to thank. Lots of folks contributed to this book's completion, although most of them don't know it. And I didn't realize it until I sat down in my favorite coffee shop to work a little bit.
I want to thank the warm, welcoming, caffeine-friendly folks at One More Cup. They learned my name, remembered my favorite drink and tried to save the table in the window for me on Saturday mornings. The atmosphere at OMC is the most conducive to writing I have ever been in.
Lesbrarian deserves kudos for taking time out of her own editing to swap baldly honest emails about the banalities of writing. I always felt reinvigorated after trading complaints with her about our respective workloads.
The People's Liberation Big Band of Kansas City could propel me to heights of concentration I could not otherwise reach without their beautiful cacophonous symphonies ringing in my ears on Sunday nights. The intricate rhythms and quixotic melodies provided the best background music I've ever had.
My family and friends can never be repaid for all the times they dropped their guard and asked me, "Whattaya been doing?" and then listened to the details of the book's progress (without letting their eyes glaze over) and my hollow promises to "come up for air at the end of this month, I swear." They are a graciously impatient lot who did not wait for that to happen, but pried me from behind the computer to grab a meal or a drink, take a walk or visit a thrift shop and gently steered conversation away from the book. I'd go back to the work refreshed (albeit full of whopping guilt), but with an understanding that there's another life to go back to when this is over.
Colleagues at work contributed in other ways, too. My boss gave me all the time off I needed (usually at the last minute) to write. Another colleague ably took over the department on those days so I never had a moment's worry about it. One work friend never said anything more than, "Boy, that's sumthin'. Yer writin' a book" whenever I hid in his office to grouse about it. I owe big plates of gratitude to my editors at Booklist and NoveList who let me slide on all kinds of writing assignments to get this big one out of the way.
While he thinks he didn't have "a damn thing to do with it," my husband is correct in a sense. There's nothing of him in this book. Just like there's nothing of me in any of his musical compositions. But someone had to do the cooking, keep the cars running, and guide me through the finer points of laptop computer purchasing for the duration. And most importantly, whenever I gave in to the little demons and despaired this thing would ever be done and who the hell did I think I was anyway to do a book, what am I crazy or something, I can't do this. He'd look at me calmly and say, "Yes, you can."
I have to thank everyone above for being right. This journey is almost over and I could not have made it without any of you.