Baby steps, volume II

Well, I’m on my way again.  Createspace, so far, is looking good.  It appears that I might be able to do a lot of the work which will save this poor, starving author some bucks.  They are very responsive in their emails and have a 24 hour free hotline for questions, tips, etc.  I like it, I really like it.

I wish I had an idea of when this will be done.  Right now I have to get some photos changed because their dpi is too small.  After that, I can go to the next step.  I have to fight this frustration, though. 

It had better be done before I leave for Italy for vacation.  I want to try to talk to someone  in the media in my family’s hometown and tell them about the book, about the return of this long lost Italian son.  You know, build up an audience.  Of course, that will be awhile because I was quoted $5000 to translate my manuscript into Italian!!!

I will be attending another book launch and am anticipating that.  It will be interesting to see what someone else does.  Perhaps I can get some ideas and incorporate them into my launch.  I’m sure the owner of Cypress in Oregon City thinks I’ve fallen off the face of the earth!!

Oh well, I suppose it builds suspense and interest, right?  I was talking with a guy the other day about Italy.  He wanted to know why Ioved I Italy so much.  I gave him a brief rundown of my background and he then admitted to me that he had been adopted by an Italian family in Connecticut and he was an adoptive father himself!  Everywhere I go, it’s the same thing.  Whether it’s the young man at Fed Ex or the woman in a lounge, I’m running into adoptees.  Our name is legion.

But it is gratifying and it serves to validate me in what I’m doing.  I harbor no illusions and do not expect to get rich.  But I have two very good friends who are convinced I’ll be rich and famous.  Even my boss is convinced of that.  Makes me feel good.  Me?  I prefer not to get my hopes up.


Ho hum, hoooooo hummmm

That’s right.  It’s nadir city.  Things are slow right now.  Meeting with my attorney next week.  Trying to figure out Createspace.  I think I’m pretty much done but I’m unfamiliar with their processes.  The way I look at it, I’m pretty much done; all they need to do is format but I’m unclear as to what more I need to do.  The thing that frustrates me is their website that says books are ready in about six weeks!  I’ll lose my mind if that’s the case.

Oh well, at least I finally got my new laptop.  Finally got rid of that dinosaur I’d had for seven years.  Didn’t realize until I looked under “Properties” that the memory was something like  75mg–basically it’s an Alzheimer’s version of a laptop now!  Still getting used to this one.

Some new relationships aren’t a rebound

OK, so I have a new love now. And it’s called Createspace, the application/company affiliated with that helps nascent writers with their works. So far, it’s seeming quite easy. But then, I’m coming at it from a great point–my book is finished and it’s been formatted. I don’t know what more they will require of me–will they accept my book cover? Is the formatting to their specifications? Will I be charged up the ying yang for every little thing? The latter is what I fear most. Already I’m finding out it’s more than twice the cost of my previous publisher–and remember, I didn’t get any of that money back.

So I’m trudging along. Had lunch today with one of my closest friends who has written two books and used Createspace and he was a wealth of information as he usually is. More than anything, though, he encouraged me to move forward. An adoptive father, he saw intuitively the inherent importance of my book and the potential implications for its publication.

It was important for me to talk to him. I value his opinion and I needed the encouragement. I think anyone who steps out and takes risks feels an innate insecurity–why am I doing this? Should I do this? Will it (I) be accepted? Will they like me; will they REALLY like me?

And I feel this is especially prevalent in the creative arts. What we are doing is stepping out from the shadows and demanding to be seen and noticed and to have our work accepted. It’s a huge step because creativity, I believe, comes from the soul. And there are few things more personal or sensitive than the soul. To have your soul rejected is tantamount to being told you don’t exist.

OK, I’m getting maudlin and way too deep. Let’s keep it light–“It’s a small world after all…”

Are we okay yet?

I’ve been told that these hiccups in the process are only going to benefit me. That they will whet people’s appetites. I see that happening to a point because people are always asking when the book will be out. I’m even hearing people discussing my book with others. This is so very gratifying. Almost as if everyone is taking a personal interest in my book and its success.

I suppose I’ll find out, won’t I? Createspace is saying the book will take six weeks. That would put me into April! But, I’ve come to realize that many companies give themselves wiggle room and that they usually deliver much sooner.

I am in the process of planning for my Italy trip. A buddy is going with me and I’m hoping I can accompany him on to Munich, Vienna, Salzburg and Budapest. Hope, hope. The Italy leg is, of course, most important. Not just regarding my family, but because I will be attempting to talk to someone in the media in my family’s hometown to build up interest in this book about a long-lost Italian son who’s come home. Additionally, I hope to speak to a translator about translating the tome into Italian. Guess you could say I’m serious about this, eh?

Divorce ain’t pretty

Marriage is wonderful, but divorce is unpleasant. I’ve always known that, but today I experienced it when I divorced myself from my publisher. It is a long story, but the crux of the issue is that they wanted me to delete virtually everyone from the book and replace them with non-existent characters, change all places, dates and situations and basically re-write the book as a fiction piece. They are concerned about libel.

While I respect their concern and understand how gun shy they are after a lawsuit, what is the point of writing a memoir if it’s not a memoir? In conversing with my attorney I came to find out that the First Amendment and case law look favorably upon memoirs and, unless I’m making an accusation that can’t be proved, I’m quite safe.

I am somewhat miffed that my publisher didn’t give me this information sooner. After I relayed my attorney’s opinion, they went ballistic and accused him of being a charlatan, only after my money. Now we all know about the reputations of attorneys and the jokes about attorneys (What’s the difference between an attorney and a bucket of shit? Answer: The bucket.) Nevertheless, I am happy with my attorney.

What I don’t get is why my publisher decided NOW to tell me that I have to take my brother (one of three main characters) out of the book as well as ANYONE else who could POSSIBLY sue, change all dates, places and facts before they would publish. Why didn’t they tell me sooner? Why didn’t they say what their restrictions are? It would have saved me two bloody months of work. But you live and learn. In those two months I’ve been able to create my Facebook page, my Lemonade website, my Twitter account and this blog. And don’t forget, in those two months I had a two week trip to Dubai and a four week encounter with a neck injury. Someone is watching over me.

Can I be sued? Sure. So can you–if someone doesn’t like your politics or your eye color or your religion. This is America and we are sue-happy. It doesn’t mean someone is going to win. And I am confident, after hearing about the law and the reach of the First Amendment how protected I am.

So, now I’m off (giddyap again!) to find a new publisher. I’ve got a small handful that were considered earlier. I’m hoping that from this we can move forward. This whole experience is becoming a bigger education than I expected. But education is never a bad thing, is it?

Thought it was time to “Giddyap”. Instead, it’s time to “Whoa”.

So what do you do when your publisher refuses your manuscript despite the legal opinion of your attorney? When your publisher demands you make all these changes when your attorney says you’re protected? Who’s right? Who do I follow? I don’t suppose anyone could blame me for wanting to pull the plug. This hearkens back to my musing a few blog posts back where I questioned this book.

If anything, this experience is enlightening. But I have to be honest and say that I’m getting sick of this crap. My publisher thinks they know the law better? Do I look for another publisher? The one I chose was the best one of the bunch as far as I was concerned. And their comments beg the question of why didn’t they tell me all this earlier? They asked me to contact a lawyer and now they are disagreeing with said lawyer and laying on the line to me what they want to happen.

I’m going to drown myself in my favorite sitcom, Frasier. After sleeping on it tonight, I won’t be so despondent tomorrow. I’ll be able to think more clearly.

Off we go into wild blue yonder! At least until the next roadblock…

OK, I’ve heard from my attorney and his legal opinion is that my book can continue apace because there is little chance of a libel suit. Fortunately, the First Amendment that our forefathers crafted has been ruled to be quite strong. Hallelujah!!

I’ve sent the manuscript off to the publisher with the attorney’s information. Hope that it satisfies them. The next step is for the publisher to format the manuscript. From that point, I will send them the book cover. That is the only fly in the ointment I can possibly see. If the cover doesn’t mesh with their software and their system, then I might have to bag my the whole thing. Or totally re-do it. Another setback.

At least I got my business cards the other day. I was excited about that.

One Bad, One Good

OK, still have not heard from the attorney. I know this is supposed to be typical of attorneys but can’t they at least have a secretary follow up? This confirms my suspicions that attorneys rule the world. They can’t be sued successfully. Just gotta bite my lip.

However…I did get my business cards today. And I was jazzed by that. It confirms to me that this is on its way–just not as fast as I’d like. I am definitely looking at no earlier than March now and I am getting a little frustrated. But I truly believe there is reason why it’s being held up. I think it’s because Oprah needs to be primed.

“Makin’ friends for the world to see”, Elton John 1971

I would be remiss without mentioning the impact of friends on this journey of mine. Virtually everyone I know is hugely supportive of my book journey, several of whom are actually working to help me be successful. I have two incredible friends from high school who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in helping with photography, book cover, the book launch, editing, etc. They know who they are and they know that I am humbled to silence by their generosity and love.

I have another beautiful friend in Southern California who is going to recommend me to a friend of hers who is involved in the adoption world. She works for the rights of adoptees to gain access to their birth records (Oregonians passed a law several years ago allowing this). This woman has also produced a couple of adoption documentaries.

This just scratches the surface. But it underscores the importance of our relationships. They are so crucial; the relationships I have (and their number is legion) bless me so much that I can’t even articulate it. I can’t say it loud enough, don’t let go of your friendships. There are so many people waiting to bless your life–and waiting for you to bless theirs. Take that step. Be bold. Be resilient. Not all will work out, but those that do will render the others irrelevant as you savor what you have.

Baby steps…

That’s what it’s about…baby steps. This writing and publishing thing doesn’t just happen. I don’t know, color me ignorant, but I really hoped I would have everything done by now–the book launch would have been wildly successful with special appearances by Angelina Jolie and CNN, you know what I mean. Instead, it’s baby steps.

Today I purchased my business cards for the book. One more way of getting the word out there. Expensive little suckers! I suppose that’s because I went through FedEx/Kinko’s. Who knows? That means one more little thing on my To Do list is finished. Every baby step helps.

Now if my attorney would just reply to my email. That would alleviate so much concern. We still have to get the publisher to format the bloody thing so we can prep the cover. God help me if they don’t accept the cover. That will be another barrier to overcome.

Just gotta keep pluggin’ along.

Hope / Should I?

There’s still time to pull the plug. Should I? It seems that barriers keep cropping up. Is this a message that I should heed? I admit I struggle with this journey I’ve chosen. Writing a memoir is heady stuff. When I first started on this journey, my attempts were half-hearted at best. I felt I should at least try to get some of this information down. Even though I will never have children, isn’t this still important information for my biological family, especially my nephew, Anton?

When my attempts later accelerated and I allowed myself to feel that rush of excitement, I had to discern what I wanted from this book. My dear friends Leslie and Deb asked me point blank what my intentions were–“Bob, do you want to sell a million copies and become rich or do you want to sell a hundred copies and touch a hundred lives?” I had to sheepishly admit that I wanted the latter. I say that I sheepishly admitted it because I didn’t want to sound like some self-obsessed savior. But that is the truth–part of the truth. I also want it to do well. But if ten people tell me that they have been changed then I can die a happy man. And the irony in all this is that people are already telling me how my story is impacting them–for the good. So I guess I’m on my way.

Yet, still I grapple. In determining to write this book, I had to make the wrenching decision to overturn all the rocks and show all the slimy things underneath. We all know life is not pretty, yet we also determine how we will edit ourselves even with those we love most. I’m going further than that and I grapple.

Since I first started sharing my adoption story with people, the unanimous response has been, “You should write a book.” In the early years that was implausible. I was an undergrad at Oregon State University and my journey had just begun. There was little to write about and certainly no social media available to chronicle the journey. Now, hundreds of millions can conceivably read this. And still I grapple.

Why am I exposing my family and our lives to microscopic examination? My parents were beautiful, loving, Christian people. Am I besmirching their good name and reputation by overturning the aforementioned rocks? I worship the ground my brother walks on; will he be hurt? He’s already read the manuscript and wasn’t happy yet he has somewhat begrudgingly given it his blessing by telling me he’s proud of me. Why am I exposing myself and risking rejection and judgment?

And then tonight. I was watching an episode from the classic TV sitcom I Love Lucy. In this particular episode, the principals are excited about an upcoming trip to California where Ricky is to be featured in a film on the life of Don Juan. Lucy’s mother wants Ricky to give the head of MGM her book. It is about her family. Ricky rolls his eyes. You can see where I’m going with this.

Immediately I felt the same thing. Is God talking to me through I Love Lucy? I know it sounds silly. But hell, people have seen Jesus in a tortilla. This waiting causes a person to question and to grapple. And the roadblocks don’t help. Is this Someone’s way of telling me that this must be done right and that the exact time is later?

What if it’s all for naught? I always cling to my editor’s words. We had never met, only communicating via email. I agreed to hire her and I emailed her my manuscript. When she was done, she told me that her normal approach was to read a chapter of an author’s book, mull it over, and then go on to another chapter before she started to edit. But mine, she said, captivated her. She couldn’t put it down and she read it in two sittings–the sign of a compelling read. She told me she wanted to know what happened to these people; she had to keep going.

I was immensely gratified by that. A handful of people I know have read the manuscript and they’ve loved it. However, author familiarity can color opinion. It’s a fact. While I appreciate their accolades, it helps to have an objective viewpoint.

After my dad’s death in late October, I had to rewrite the epilogue–and have it edited. My editor received the epilogue at Thanksgiving. According to her, she had a house to clean, dinner to prepare and grown children on the way, but she couldn’t stay away from the epilogue. She devoured it and it made her literally weep. Her final comment? “Bob, you have to publish this book.”

But doubts creep in. They swirl in my brain. Sometimes I read the manuscript and I think it’s a piece of garbage. Other times I read it and am convinced it’s a masterpiece. Such is the response of Italians. Always passionate, never an in-between. Is that good? Is that bad? Time will tell.

Yet I know this, no matter what the response is to this book, I did it. After nine years, I finished it. The dream would be that I can finally pursue my, well, dream! To do something that compels me and to have it resonate. To touch someone in a way they needed, but didn’t realize. In a way they weren’t prepared. To create something that will change one tiny corner of the world no matter how insignificantly. And if it results in happiness or forgiveness, is that really insignificant?

But the potential costs haunt me. Honesty has a price. I’ve experienced that firsthand lately. People oftentimes claim they want honesty. But when they get it, they throw it back. Kind of like catch and release trout.

Sometimes pain is more bitter the second time around. Sometimes seeing your life in print is unnerving. There’s something almost permanent about writing; it gives something an almost eternal bent. Something that can’t be erased, that can’t be taken back. Something that must be faced.

I’m not grappling anymore.