On Sunday June 29, 2012, my friends on the board of the Pond Dakota Heritage Society hosted a book lauch celebration at the Gideon Pond House in Bloomington. It was a lovely afternoon in every way!
During the years I spent researching the book, my goal was simply to uncover enough of the story to be able to write it. Then during the years I spent writing, the goal was simply to finish the manuscript on time. When the book went into production a year ago, the goal became seeing the manuscript in print. Each of those goals was discrete: meet it, check it off, move on to the next step.
But in the week leading up to the book release party, I realized the goal has become more nebulous: will the words work? Perhaps the people who attended the party are an unusually discerning :). But from the feedback so far, it seems people are reading it in the spirit I wrote it. I’m relieved and pleased.
For those of you who weren’t there, I’ll share some pictures and the text of my remarks. The theme of the afternoon was the process and the effects of the collaboration on A Thrilling Narrative. Zabelle over-viewed the project, including how she met Gwen. Then it was my turn to go back and fill in parts of the big picture with a few stories.
Zabelle tells a nice story! Projects like this one would be easier if from the beginning if we could see the path mapped out for us: that the connections would happen, that we would like the people with whom we collaborate, that anyone would ever read the book!
This is my first book project and I’m thrilled with the way both the process and the product worked out. But honestly: it has been very humbling. There were so many times I thought this book would never happen.
Four wonderful reasons are in the audience today: my daughters. In December of 2005, when a routine trip through the Riggs Papers at MHS turned up a letter from Mary Renville, who, for the first time I recognized as the author of A Thrilling Narrative, I had three children. My oldest was five, and my youngest two were at opposite end of being two. Three years later, Zabelle and I were editing the proposal for an annotated new edition of A Thrilling Narrative when I flew to Korea to bring home my youngest daughter. She was two when Raymond J. DeMallie and Mary Wingerd recommended University of Nebraska Press offer us a contract. Nebraska did; we accepted.
Then things got really interesting because I had a book to finish in six months’ time! However I have a wonderful husband who not only funds my hopeless addiction to research, he works from home and gamely pitches in running carpool, changing diapers, cooking dinner, and emailing me photos of the girls all those Saturday trips to zoos and parks and museums he orchestrated so I could have a few quiet hours to write.
Without him and a cadre of aunties and grandmas and cousins pitching in with childcare and dishes and entertainment –without all of them helping me, none of us would be here today because the book would not yet be done.
If you ask my girls, they will tell you it took a long time. Six weeks ago, when a friend emailed that her copy of the book had just arrived, I said to the girls, “Can you believe it? Someone actually has the book in her hands and is going to start reading it tonight!”
My seven-year daughter old enthused, “Well, it is about time somebody read it! It only took you like a million years!”
“It did not take a million years,” my eight year old said. “It only took about…” she paused to calculate, “about one half of your whole life so far!”
Continued in Part 2.Photo credit: Sheila Strobel Smith