How long did it take you to publish your book? At times, we write something knowing that improvements can definitely be made. We write more drafts to add or edit sections, but have you ever taken twenty-six years from the time you started writing to publication? Trafford author Mary Jean Irion discusses the lengths she went to, to perfect her book SHE-FIRE.
Way back in 1986, I had been on safari in Kenya. The first little spark of SHE-FIRE was sent to my safari group for Christmas: sixty-five pages remembering that experience.
“It’s good,” the women said. “You should publish it.”
It took twenty-six years for that to happen. But the tug of MORE was in that safari, underneath somewhere, unexpressed, definitely there to be pulled out—like a poem not yet finished. It needed work. So I did another draft. And another. And another, each time pulling out more. If I’d do another draft now, I’d learn yet more. Nature and human nature, when they work together, are full of meaning.
In between drafts were months and or even years, when the manuscript lay at rest on a shelf. I thought the book was finished in 1997 and again in 2002, each time putting it on the market.
Wherever queries went, the answers were the same: interesting, you write well, but it won’t make the bottom line. HarperSanFrancisco cared enough to recommend other possibilities; but checked out, they also were interested and said no.
No publisher wants to lose money. I understand that with no hard feelings, so I buried the dead bundle at the bottom of my bookcase ten years ago.
Two years ago, Paul enjoyed self-publishing his novel on immigration, working with Trafford. So I thought, “Why not?” After one more draft of the manuscript, my safari in Africa, twenty-five years later, now lives again in a book called SHE-FIRE, published in June, 2012.
Mary Jean Irion’s Trafford Bibliography: