I got a very exciting e-mail this week from my publisher. It was notification that my galley proofs for Tales From the Dry Side: The Personal Stories Behind the Autoimmune Illness Sjögren's Syndrome were ready for my review. This is a big step in the publishing process for me. Galley proofs are basically the actual book digitally presented for me to review; the cover, the interior, all of it.
It's a scary process editing these galley proofs because if there are any mistakes, the full responsibility is mine. I have to say, as a perfectionist, that is much more responsibility than I want. On the other hand, one of the things I have enjoyed so much about the self-publishing process has been the opportunity to create a book that is completely and uniquely mine. With that, comes great responsibility. However, I can only do my best and in my heart, I know I have given this process everything I have. The final product, with any imperfections, will be enough. Just as I have been enough.
My goal during this entire publishing process has been to have this book, my very first book, available to customers in time for Christmas. Of course I only have so much control over that, but yesterday was my opportunity to speed up that process. So in between having some work done on my car, doing a hospice volunteer visit, taking care of a sick dog, and choir rehearsal, I worked fervently on reviewing the galley proofs. And this means rereading and editing the entire manuscript...for like the zillionth time. That may be an exaggeration, but I have read this thing more times than I can count. And last night, at 8:30pm when I was exhausted, cranky, and ready to throw my computer out the window because I would rather be concentrating on watching Grey's Anatomy, I realized just how sick and tired I was of this whole book writing/publishing thing.
That was, until I got to Laura Jeanne's chapter....again.
It is still surprising to me that every single time I have to review this manuscript, some part of one of my contributor's stories moves me to tears.
Last night was no exception.
Laura Jeanne's story is an amazing testament to the strength of the human spirit. This woman, like many of us, has gone through such hell in her Sjögren's journey. Yet, her faith in God remains steadfast and certain. She still wakes up every morning putting one foot in front of the other. She counts her blessings and while several times has become close to just giving up on life entirely, she finds some hope and continues on her journey.
Rereading Laura Jeanne's story last night reminded me of why, for two plus years, I have continued with pursuing this dream of mine to publish a book of personal Sjögren's stories: to inspire, bring hope, and remind people to put one foot in front of the other. To remind them that it is possible to survive, and sometimes even to thrive.
Thank you Laura Jeanne, and thank you too all of my amazing story contributors. We are just one more step away from actual publication and one more step away from bringing these stories out into the world. There is no doubt in my mind that these stories will help countless Sjögren's patients. These stories will make a difference. They will educate and bring awareness to the medical community. They will bring hope and comfort to the four million people diagnosed with Sjögren's syndrome.
The Tales From the Dry Side stories will....
Change the world in a small way.