Archive | Accountability

Finalizing my manuscript

I was just reading my last post. The post about writing my book.

Well… I did it!

The final draft of my manuscript is ready

I finalized the final draft of my manuscript in January 2019. Literary non-fiction, a novel/biography based on my dad’s life story, completed just in time for my dad’s 88th birthday. I printed it and my husband and I flew to France, where my mom and dad live, to hand the final draft to my dad in person. My brother and his wife were there too. It was an emotional, happy and very special weekend with people I love and for various reasons, we drank champagne every day!

Around the same time I gave my final draft to four other proofreaders, my coach Nanda Huneman, my sister-in-law and two dear friends, one of them being a writer herself.

Showing vulnerability

Somehow it is a very exciting feeling to hand your book over to others and to ask for their opinion. Except for my coach and my dad, who both had been very much involved with my writing, no one else had seen any of it. Not even my own husband, since he is Canadian and I have written the book in Dutch.

I had been talking about my book with others quite often, telling them about my process and progress, but sharing my writings was a very vulnerable thing to do. Especially after having dedicated two years of my life to the manuscript.

Would it be good enough? What if they wouldn’t like it? Would it be a good read?

I gave them a copy of the final draft and then I just had to sit and wait. I’m not very good at waiting you know, I like to take action 🤣 I felt quite restless, so I started killing time looking into the next phase: how to publish and promote a book. And I found out it’s a world of its own…

Automatically the next worry started creeping into my mind: would any publisher be interested in publishing my book?

The Dutch readers market is relatively small, the number of people writing books apparently overwhelming so publishing houses and agents can allow themselves to be very picky. Most websites more or less state: “if you’re not already a well-known author please don’t send us your manuscript.”

Author? It still feels like a weird word to me. I don’t feel like an author. Yet. I guess that only comes with publishing your first book…

I didn’t know of anyone working in the publishing branch. How to stand out in the pile of manuscripts… Should I look into self-publishing? But how to get into the bookstores?

We all fight our own demons every day, right?!

Then my proofreaders started coming back to me with their feedback. They loved it! Two of them even called my book a ‘page-turner’! Yay! The suggestions and comments of all of them were really good quality feedback and I was so happy to go back to my desk again and to take my manuscript to the next level. Nanda and I also had a great talk and with all of the input I was able to finalize my manuscript and I felt satisfied with the result.

I posted on FB that I was ready for the next step: to find the right publisher. Various friends reacted to that post. Encouraging reactions of friends that even used to work in the publishing sector and I had forgotten all about it!

The more I share things with people who care about me the more doors seem to open.

Asking for help is a good thing. I’ve sent my manuscript to a limited number of publishers now and there’s some good progress on the horizon. I’m very excited! And very grateful for all the friends supporting me and helping me find new, important connections.

I’ll keep you posted! 😁

With love, Birgit

Turning my dream into reality

“When I was a teenager, I told my best friend that, one day, I would write down my dad’s life story. A complex family legend, in which happiness and tragedy and the unbreakable bond between my dad and my grandma are central. I have been asking my dad to tell me his story over, and over, and over again. But he had to turn 86 years old, and I needed to go on my own life journey, before I was ready to turn my dream into reality.”

Taking on the challenge

These are the first sentences of the Author’s note of the novel I am finally writing. On January 2nd 2017, I started interviewing my dad via Skype, because he lives in France and I’m in BC Canada. Today, 1.5 years later, with the tremendous support of my coach Nanda Huneman, who is a writer herself, my book is starting to gain serious shape. I’m writing in Dutch, which is my mother tongue. But I will eventually have the book translated into English and other languages too.

The story takes place in the Dutch East Indies between 1910 and 1956. It’s a different story about the Dutch East Indies you might have heard before. Because my dad’s family wasn’t Dutch. They were Austrians. Immigrants from Vienna. As a result he and his family were declared ‘dangerous Germans’ during WWII, even though they weren’t German, and had lived most of their adult life in the Dutch East Indies. My dad was born in Bandung, Java, in 1931. His roots were there. He had never ever been to Europe.

It’s an intriguing story, sometimes hard to wrap your head around. Especially when you’re of Dutch descent, as I have noticed through the reactions of my Dutch coach. I set a challenge with her: to have the first version of my book, complete with Epilogue, finished by the end of August. This post helps me to keep me accountable and reach my goal. I am determined to publish my book. And I hope you are going to read it! To be continued 😉