3 years ago, I wrote a book. 200-pages of my scintillating travels around Africa. Needless to say, it was an exercise in humility. However, prior to the flooring encounter with humility, I soared on a grandiose illusion of success.
I was so convinced my unpublished book was going to be a million-dollar hit that I began introducing myself as Bestselling author, Amma Bonsu. I had barely finished the first draft when I crafted a letter of resignation to my employer and started collecting pledges from people eager to support my work. After 3 gruelling months of wordsmithing, I hired a professional editor and we worked on the manuscript until I could smell the drool of publishers as they clamoured for the rights of my bestseller.
To my utter dismay, most publishers did not even acknowledge receipt of the manuscript. The kind ones sent a letter of rejection. 6 months later, my editor found an interested publisher but the advance they offered was so little I walked away. I gradually stopped referring to myself as a bestselling author, yet I kept a wistful eye on the phone…
Although my failed attempt to dazzle the literary world shattered my ego, it came with 3 important lessons.
1. Let it go. When you have to recount your life’s experience in a book you will come to a point where you have to edit. It is a arduous task which forces you to trim details you deem important. Editing made me recognize that I had wasted so much energy crying over people and events who did not deserve a footnote in my autobiography. Naturally, I wrestled with eliminating these individuals and events from the book but, I realized that without them, my story still had meaning.
2. There is a season for everything. I struggle with this sagesse but I have learnt to trust it. Had the book been published, I would be praying for a magic wand to undo how I presented myself to the world.
3. Finally, as hard as it is to admit, I understand why publishers treated my manuscript like over-cooked pasta. It was a self-indulgent pack of literary valium. I used to think of the unpublished book as wasted effort, now, I see it as an unbirthed opportunity. I have decided to revisit excerpts of the manuscript and publish it on my blog. I will tighten loose screws, smoothen rough edges and polish it until it throbs with drama. Chapter 1 will be ready in 1 week.