This week’s post is a celebratory one! After a journey of several years, I can, as of January 2016, officially say that my work has been published as a chapter in an anthology.
The Body, Subject & Subjected: The Representation of the Body Itself, Illness, Injury, Treatment & Death in Spain and Indigenous and Hispanic American Art & Literature
Chapter XIII: The Transcendence of the Body: Gabriel García Márquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera: Love and Death as New-World Mosaic, by Lauren M. P. Derby
Sounds like a page-turner, right?
If I sound somewhat flippant, it’s disguising my genuine giddiness. Articles and short stories of mine have crossed the publication finish-line before, but this is the first time my work has appeared in a book-length publication.
I could not be happier.
The road here has been one of twists and happenstance, as often occurs in the publishing world. Just last week, I was reading a Publisher’s Weekly article on Victoria Aveyard. Though she hasn’t yet achieved J. K. Rowling-level success, Aveyard can definitely lay claim to a speedy upward trajectory in the YA fiction world. Her many accomplishments–cumulative contracts for 5 books; a first novel (Red Queen) on the bestseller list for a year plus; film rights purchased by Universal Studies–all began with one meeting. While completing her BFA in screenwriting at the University of Souther California, then 22-year-old Aveyard attended a campus pitchfest, where she happened to pitch her idea to an enthusiastic representative of a television production company. And the rest is history.
I mean no slight to Ms. Aveyard’s work. I haven’t read her series, but Red Queen‘s success (as well as its earning a Goodreads Choice award for 2015) would seem to indicate a level of creative talent worthy of the attention she’s garnering.
But without that first serendipitous meeting, who knows where she’d be today?
Publication victory necessitates as much good timing and fortune as it does talent.
The story behind my contribution to The Body was far less dramatic, but equally unexpected. While I was earning my MA in Literature, the South Central Modern Language Association (SCMLA) decided to host its 2012 annual conference in San Antonio, Texas–a mere handful of hours from my home base of Houston.
Taking a chance, I submitted two proposals seeking a place as a conference speaker: one to the Science and Literature panel (regarding my work on water symbolism in Percy Bysshe Shelly’s Prometheus Unbound) and one to the Spanish Panel (regarding my work on Baroque visual art techniques in Gabriel García Márquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera).
I then proceeded to wait… and wait… and wait. By this point in my life, I already knew that no news is bad news when you’ve submitted a writing project. The cut-off date for acceptance was April 30; if I hadn’t heard otherwise by that day, I’d know my work hadn’t earned me a conference spot.
April 30th arrived, still without news. My day turned into one long resigned sigh.
But at 2:02 P.M., an acceptance email rolled into my box–my very own deus ex machina. Just as I’d yielded hope, I’d scored a spot on the conference’s Spanish panel.
Months rolled by until finally November–and the conference–arrived. My presentation went off without a hitch. I was excited, relieved… then shocked when one of the panel attendees approached to say she’d found my research very interesting.
And that it’d be an excellent fit for the anthology she was currently compiling.
This lovely woman was Dr. Debra Andrist, a professor at Sam Houston State University. She gave me her card. I promised to send her my manuscript. She promised to be in touch.
And throughout the following years, it continued much this way. Dr. Andrist would make tentative progress in finding a publisher for the anthology. I would periodically revise my essay. All along the way, I steeled myself for the possibility of the project’s never coming to fruition. After all, uncertainty is an inevitable element of the publishing industry.
But my trepidation proved unwarranted when winter 2014-15 saw Dr. Andrist connect with our future publisher, Sussex Academic Press. Since then, it’s been a slow, intriguing journey: another round of edits, a crash-course in arts permissions (I had to acquire my own for the artworks reproduced as part of my chapter), a surreal moment as I signed my contract… and a lot of antsy waiting.
But here I am in 2016, book in hand (as soon as it arrives on the literal slow boat to China), with my name heading a chapter.
When I take a moment to ponder, I am amazed by the many small steps that led me to this opportunity. If I hadn’t submitted to the SCMLA conference…. If I hadn’t been accepted…. If Dr. Andrist hadn’t chosen to attend that panel discussion…. If I hadn’t been pursuing the research I had….
This delicate chain of coincidences (as a Christian, I tend to interpret them as God’s aligning matters) puts into perspective all the waiting intrinsic to the life of the aspiring writer.
That’s a lot of tiny elements to line up just so.
Another reason to celebrate The Body‘s publication? It gave me an excuse to finally crack open an as-yet-unused Christmas present: Tequila Mockingbird, by Tim Federle. This excellent little book is the perfect mashup of puns, cocktail recipes, and literary references. Even reading this compact cookbook’s table of contents made me giggle. Drink titles like The Last of the Mojitos and Paradise Sauced stand as delightful proof (get it?) that literature can be laugh-worthy as well as enlightening.
As I pen this post, I’m enjoying a beverage by the name of Love in the Time of Kahlúa, in honor of my happy news. It’s a perfect pairing, since Love in the Time of Cholera is all about the long wait for love between the main characters–“fifty-one years, nine months, and four days,” to be exact.
By contrast, waiting four years for the publications stars to align for The Body seems a small price to pay.