Even before I tried writing a novel myself, I was fascinated by authors who wrote them. Curious about the folks writers regarded as their inspirations or helpmates along their journey toward publication, I invariably read the acknowledgements’ page in their books.
I still do. Currently, I’m reading a riveting debut YA novel, Pointe, by Brandy Colbert. In her acknowledgements, she thanks 21 people plus her entire publishing team at Penguin and the dance studio where she learned enough to feel confident writing about an aspiring ballet dancer.
At first glance, that might sound like an excessive number of people to thank. After all, Colbert is the one who had to face the dreaded blank page and create an entire world of characters confronting all sorts of external problems and emotional conflicts. She undoubtedly spent many solitary hours of writing and rewriting her novel.
But the truth is that the road to publication is absolutely full of wonderful people who help authors along the way. I’ve been thinking a lot about this because this past week, a really nice thing happened to me. I signed and sent in a publishing contract for my second novel. There remain lots of revisions and work to do before it gets published in 2018, but the project is hopefully on its way. I am beyond thrilled, and I already have a great long list of folks to thank—all the members of my writing groups who critiqued early drafts of the novel, my amazing mentors in my MFA program at Seton Hill University who shepherded me through this project, my grad school critique partners, and most recently, my fabulous agent and the editor and publisher who thought enough of this project to take me on. Then there’s Richard Johnson, who has gone above and beyond the job description for a brother-in-law by creating and maintaining my website. And how could I forget my amazing husband? Even on my worst writing days, he’s my encourager-in chief, not to mention my first reader.
It’s an awful cliché to say that “it takes a village” to do anything challenging, but that’s probably because it’s true. I simply could not do what I do as a writer without a lot of help from folks who’ve been advocates, cheerleaders, and critics. I am a much better writer because of the generous and honest feedback I’ve received.
Now that I’m writing novels, all I can say is, twenty-one people is hardly an excessive number of folks to give a shout-out to.
And like Brandy Colbert, I am incredibly thankful.