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  • It Takes a Village To Raise a Book

    One of the contributors to our HerStories Project book is a new fiction author! She’s just published The Rooms Are Filled: A Novel.We couldn’t be more proud and thrilled for Jessica Vealitzek! Today she writes about her friends and biggest supporters. 

    It Takes a Village to Raise a Book (1)

    It’s common to hear authors talk about the publication of their books as, “giving birth.” I always took that to just mean it was like delivering your baby to the world—it had been inside you for so long, and now it was coming out. But, now that I’m going through publication, I see there are other ways this somewhat gross analogy is accurate, and I’ll use another cliché to describe it:

    It takes a village.

    Not only to deliver and raise a child, but to deliver and raise a book.

    It would bore you to tears to list all the people who in some way—through words or actions, knowingly or not—have helped me. So, I’ll stick to telling you about just a few of my friends:

    Melanie (whom readers of the HerStories Project book will know) had a celebration the week I finished my final draft. It doesn’t matter the celebration was without me (she happened to be at dinner with several other couples and my name came up); knowing she told them all about my book and toasted me makes me smile. Several times since, she’s looked me in the eye—the kind of look that usually causes this Irish gal to look away—and told me she was proud of me. She’s known for bear hugs and I’ve gotten plenty. I sent her an advance copy, and she called me so I’d be on the phone when she opened the package and held my book—my baby—for the first time.

    My friend, Heather, is an endearingly obnoxious cheerleader for me—telling everyone she knows, and some she doesn’t, that I’ve written a book, with me standing right there. She’s kind of like the parent who has the child play piano for guests. Having gone through it many times now, I’m pretty sure I prefer Melanie’s method, deep stare and all. But I wouldn’t trade the embarrassing moments for a less enthusiastic friend, not a chance.

    My sister, Katie, pretty much acts like she is me—she posts all my essays and announcements on her Facebook page, emails all her friends about me, and generally does everything I would ask her to do, except I don’t even have to ask. She’s the one who would take the baby out of my exhausted arms and change its diaper.

    Ginny bought me a children’s book about making your mark in the world, and wrote a note inside so lovely it made me do the ugly cry in public. Again, very un-Irish of me. But it left me feeling strong and determined. She’s inspirational, and reminds me of the beauty of the whole picture.

    Catherine, Cindy, and I engage in “kid swaps.” These benefit all of us, but the afternoons they watch my children have enabled me to dedicate regular time to the enormous task of launching a book, all the while knowing my (literal) children are happy and safe.

    There are people online I know I can count on to support me, encourage me, and promote my writing, as I would for them. These online friendships are remarkable. I really do forget that I haven’t met some of them in person, they are such a vital part of who I am as a writer.

    What Jessica and Stephanie have started here is exactly what I’m talking about—a community of writers and friends supporting each other, lifting each other up. Writing can be solitary, the kind of solitary any new mom can relate to, and outside support is not only a plus, it’s absolutely necessary. It feeds the brain, the soul, and the side of you that gets nourishment from hanging out with those who know exactly how you feel.

    All of these friends consistently provide me with a chance to simply say, “Thank you.” I’m learning to let them make this a big deal, and I’m allowing myself to be proud, like they’re proud. In that way, their support is everything.

    And so, once upon a time, this village launched a book. It was hers, and theirs, and everyone’s.

    Jessica Null Vealitzek is the author of The Rooms Are Filled, the 1983 coming-of-age story of two outcasts brought together by circumstance: a Minnesota farm boy transplanted to suburban Chicago after his father dies, and the closeted young woman who becomes his teacher. You can read more about Jessica and her book on her web site.

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