After 30 years, ze Frenchman said, “I am so sick of hearing about the damn book, publish it yourself.”
So I brushed off the dust of a manuscript I had worked on with 3 agents and a dozen different editors and started over again. Long before I felt that the 88th edition was ready, my other half gave me an ultimatum, “Now or never!”
Unite a pragmatic, logical, French, feet-on-the-ground-no-nonsense-businessman and a flighty, idealistic, touchy-feely artsy American writer and then watch the fireworks! I live in my dreams. He worries about reality – about spaces, margins, and quality of images.
Ze Frenchman, a CEO in printing, formerly headed a French book printing company; now he manages newspapers in Switzerland on a 24-hour deadline. However, I have worked on this memoir nearly half a century changing the content according to the whims of a regiment of editors.
“I hate WORD (the computer program)!” I hear ze Frenchman scream from our attic office.
Ze American loves words. I am driven by words. Do they dance across the page delighting the reader?
“If your cover doesn’t catch the eye, no one will open your book.”
I worry about content; he focuses on form.
Meanwhile the website crashes. Spammers from outer space invaded the blog. Drafts are lost in cyberspace.
“Putain, vérole, bordel de merde!” he yells enriching my French vocabulary.
I learn new curse word every time something goes wrong upstairs in the attic. I jump, fearing his foot, slammed so hard, will smash through the floorboards.
What in the heck were we thinking publish a book? He wants it to be done; I want it to be perfect.
His reputation is not at stake, he is the loving husband who endured three decades of his wife’s eccentricities: writer’s block, creative outbursts, artist angst.
I want to reread, revise, re edit, resubmit. The Frenchman says, “Non! Stop!”
I press forward, trying to sneak in one more rewrite quickly, so the Boss will get off my back! Fine for him to say “Just Do It,” he’s not the one standing on the high dive with acrophobia!
There is no hand holding, no coddling, no ego stroking, back patting, confidence boosting. It is just YOU and your idea flying solo through the universe on a wing and a prayer. Self-doubt is your sidekick.
I second-guess myself on every sentence. My English language fluency regresses daily. I live in a country with four national languages – none of which are English -and work in an international school where students speak in 84 different mother tongues.
Ze Frenchman adds a comma. I take it out. He questions the origins of a word. “You can’t use that word in English. It’s French.”
“No it is not.”
“Yes it is.”
We race to our respective language dictionaries.
“It’s not in Webster’s,” I lament.
“It is not in the French dictionary either. You can’t make up words with nice rhythms, just so they can dance!”
Oh la la…how is a marriage to survive.
What was I thinking? Write a book.
Ta da boom! Three decades later, longer than it took to raise our doctor daughter, my dream, -his nightmare- takes shape.
Together we created a book baby, Home Sweet Hardwood, A Title IX Trailblazer Breaks Barriers Through Basketball. I hope that my story inspires readers of all ages to never give up on their dreams. He hopes that after publication, I will quit writing.
I could never, ever have attempted to publish a book without my techie sidekick, to whom I am forever grateful for standing by me.
What advice would ze Frenchman offer anyone embarking on such an all-consuming endeavor?
“Never marry a writer! Especially an American!”
Pat, this one warrants a Kleenex alert because I’m laughing so much, it brings tears to my eyes! You have nailed the agony and ecstasy of writing as well as having a spouse who thinks differently.( I know my husband would love me to take a break from writing…a long one) But, I must say, you two certainly know how to create beautiful babies. 🙂
Oh yes, Kathy, you know the anguish involved in crafting a good story. I am looking forward to the day soon when you launch your baby!
I’m glad you wrote it, Pat! Not everyone can say they have published book, especially of your trials and tribulations. I hope you never quit writing! By the way, Happy Birthday!
Thanks, Debbie. I appreciate your long distance support and well wishes.
I adore this post and the thought of being married to someone who knows about my work would be…daunting. To say the least!
Yes, he understands what writers know and often times regret that as painful as the creative process is at times, not writing is worse.
Pat, I know what a labor of love your book has been…for both you and G. I also know how different your’s and Gerald’s work styles are which provided great fodder for this blog. It is a testament to the strength of your marriage and your respect for each other’s differences that you were finally able to launch your dream.
Sis, thanks for being with me every step of the way. I could never have done it without your support.
Pat, you’re blessed that, for all your differences, BOTH of you saw the finished project and worked in your own ways to get there! Writing a book is hard enough; it’s really hard without a cheering section. You’ve shown that it’s not impossible to work with someone whose style isn’t like your own, as long as that person loves you and wants what’s best for you. I chuckled at the image of you going behind “Ze Frenchman” and making last-ditch edits, while he was wrangling with the mechanics of getting your baby printed. Never a dull moment, right?!
There will be a nice little surprise waiting for you at the post office back home. Hope you enjoy it.
Aw, Pat, thanks! I can hardly wait to read it and learn a bit more about you and your life!!
Great post and congrats to you and Ze Frenchman on making your dream come true. Funny and inspiring!
Thanks, Lois. As you well know writing brings out the best and at times worst of us, but without our words we are lost.
No matter what, I am convinced that you two were meant for each other. Vive la collaboration!
Merci mille fois, Helene. When are you coming across the Big Pond for the chance to practice your French and visit your son?