Have you ever wondered how a first-time published essayist may feel when she sees the final product and finally has the chance to hold the book in her hands? Joene Hendry penned her thoughts and offered to give us a glimpse of how she felt the day she received her copy of Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart: 28 True Stories of Love, Loss, and Everything in Between
My First Read of Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart: 28 True Stories of Love, Loss, and Everything in Between
By Joene Hendry
The cold, rain-drenched November day shed little natural light toward my overstuffed reading chair. Some supplemental florescence would be needed to read what the mail delivered yesterday in a nondescript corrugated package. Though I had carefully opened the package to insure the contents arrived undamaged, until now I had to squelch my excitement over the words within my copy of Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart: 28 True Stories of Love, Loss, and Everything in Between.
The book is a compilation of essays - one of them mine - written by writers who are also members of the professional writers' group, Freelance Success. As a freelance writer my byline appeared on hundreds of print and online articles, all reporting facts and research. This was different. For the first time my name is listed as an author in a published book. For this publication I put a piece of myself - a huge, intensely personal piece - out there for all to read.
Many years had to pass before I could begin to write the feelings my essay conveys. Many months went by before I had the emotional strength to rewrite, rework, rehash, and tweak the words that eventually matured into Tending the Garden of Grief.
When I first compiled this essay I suspected my series of sentences and paragraphs was worthy of sharing, but I was too close to its contents to be sure. When I submitted the essay to Andrea King Collier during one of her popular essay classes, and she called to say, "this is beautifully written," I knew I had the makings of a publishable work.
Still, my tale - not the kind of feel good essay many publications seek - remained in the essay folder in my computer, undergoing occasional tweaks and revisions. It only came out from its protective archives when the Freelance Success team asked members for personal essay submissions for a self-published book project they planned.
After carefully reading the submission guidelines and tweaking my essay out of its lengthy gestation I hit 'Send' and hoped for the best.
It's a major understatement to say I was thrilled after learning my essay was chosen. Now, after of hundreds of hours of committee work by Freelance Success members who believed that turning a bunch of personal essays into a book was a worthy exercise, I held the book in my hands.
My collective words make up just one/twenty-eighth of the other personal stories in Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart: 28 True Stories of Love, Loss, and Everything in Between. I was anxious to see, feel, and absorb the subjects the other writers tackled.
I read of events that wove the fabric of each author's life - that strengthened the author's sense of self or of others. Some ring true with my memories, others are foreign to my experiences. But all, whether about families, friends, lovers, pets, or life-changing events, touched some part of me.
As I sat curled into my don't-bother-me reading chair, protected from the autumn chill by the afghan my Grandmother made for me years ago, I read how two dear friends share the warmth of their friendship by trading off the crocheted goods they created when they lived near each other. How a woman knitted as her way of dealing with the loss of a loved one.
I shed memorial tears of losing two of my adored pets as I read others' accounts of finding, learning to love, and losing their beloved furry companions. And I marveled at how a wingless butterfly can be the impetus for a child's and a parent's learning.
After reading this compilation, I'm overcome with admiration for my fellow essayists. The breadth and depth of the subject matter is so diverse - sexuality, personal quirks, family shortcomings and traditions, sending children off into the world, loves gained and lost, foods that nourish beyond the belly.
Anyone with a pulse will find something in Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart: 28 True Stories of Love, Loss, and Everything in Between that tweaks at or pierces their heart.