Folks around my Northern California college town have heard the news that I wrote a book. How could they not, with me blathering about it both on social media and whenever anyone has run into me and asked, “What’s up?” for the past two years. “Funny you should ask,” I have answered in the grocery store, while waiting out Sophia’s dance class, and at parties and art openings. “ I am writing a book and honestly it has become all-consuming and SO MUCH FUN. Turns out I want to be a writer when I grow up – me, Chico’s home birth midwife. Who would have thought?”
Nowadays everyone asks, “So when does it come out?”
“Ha,” I answer, having just spent six months querying agents and learning about the molasses pace of the publishing industry. “ It’s like waiting for a baby to come – only much, much longer. In fact you could have a whole brood of babies before the book will come out, if it does at all.”
But let me back up for a minute. I never planned on writing a book. I followed the call of my dream; Adam and I pulled the girls out of school and took them to India for a year so we could all take a break from the routines of our lives and grow in new ways. I was no Elizabeth Gilbert, getting a fat book advance to travel and then write about how the journey changed me. But my family traveled, and the journey changed all of us. I kept a blog for friends and family, who were both worried and excited for us, probably mostly worried. And I kept a journal, writing almost every day so I would not look back later and think, “Too bad I can’t really remember much, other than eating rice and dal, and that one hotel room made of bamboo, which bugs had eaten through in places. We all slept in a pile on the single bed with a mosquito net and still woke up with bites from six varieties of insects including the infamous Keralan blister-beetle.” I have learned that it is the hard times that stick in my mind; the strings of beautiful days run into a memory-blur. So I captured those, one scrawling cursive journal-entry at a time.
When we returned home in the fall of 2014, friends and acquaintances told me they loved reading my blog posts, and that they would have loved to read more of them; I should probably write a book. I can’t credit this solely to my great writing. In our town, people post on Facebook about their darling kids’ home-school projects, a smoothie they just made, their Christmas trees, and lovely meals at the Brewery. Clearly, my posts from India stood out.
There was something else, too. Everywhere I went, people asked me, “How was India?”
How. Was. India.
“Amazing, “ I answered, “Incredible.” But no simple word or phrase can come close to the truth. India – it was everything. There was no way to answer that question, other than by writing the book.
I started writing Relax, Nothing is Under Control on a lark, and then the writing took hold of me and led me on a second journey. “We write to taste life twice,” Anais Nin said, “In the moment and in retrospect.” Mmmm, rice and dal. Again and again.
Now back to the first question: When does the book come out?
Well, here is what has happened. In November I signed on with my dream agent, Laura Yorke at Carol Mann Agency. She was the agent for Janice McLeod’s Paris Letters, and Steph Jagger’s recently released Unbound; A Story of Snow and Self Discovery. (Isn’t that a BOMB title?) In other words, travel memoir is her bag, and she loved mine and called it an Eat, Pray, Love for a Whole Family. Laura submitted my book to a number of publishing houses three weeks ago, and the next step would be that one of these offers me a contract to publish my book. Once that happens, I will be able to tell you when the book will come out.
For now, we wait.
Dena and fam