April 24, 2021
The longer I write, the more problems I have with listing my name as the lone author.
Don’t get me wrong, I work my ass off, and I have for decades, bringing essays, articles, and books into the world. Over time, though, I learned that writing only looks solitary. But being a published author takes a pack mentality.
Growing up, I was a horrible student. I mean...horrible! When it came to writing papers, I’d slap them together—usually the night before they were due—and “fling” them at my dad for editing. I’m not sure why he did me the favor of editing my work. A professor, researcher, and author, Dadhad an enormous workload. Plus, I wasn’t particularly respectful in the way I approached him. In fact, as I write this, I wonder if I even bothered requesting that he edit my papers. Or did I, a surly, self-absorbed teen, simply drop printouts in his lap with little regard for the demands in his life?
Eventually, Dad’s generosity led me to better understand:
Writing is a partnership.
By my early 20s, I’d learned to work with people on my writing, including those dedicated professors who offered thoughtful feedback. For my first book—an awful, rambling P.O.S.—I had a co-author, a wonderful woman I lived with in India, and we traveled West to East, North to South, crisscrossing the countryas we drafted the 500+ page manuscript. The book is awful...like not even salvageable. The experience itself, though, taught me to surround myself with trusted people while building worlds.
Years later, I finally learned another language, one that helped me better speak to the pack mentality of writing. Words like beta readers and critical partners came to me only afterI'd spent decades as researcher (we had our own writing-language). I also learned about the types of editors, including developmental, content, and line editors. In their own way, each editor poked and prodded me, encouraging me to kill my little darlings, to delete beloved passages and lines to strengthen characters, plotlines, and worlds.
My latest partner is Ylva Publishing, and I am thrilled to have signed with them. When preparing for my submission and the initial meeting with the publisher, I researched Ylva’s culture, reading their blogs and familiarizing myself even more broadly with their authors and books. I learned that ylva is of Swedish origin and refers to “pack,” and, more specifically to “she-wolf.”
After that initial meeting, I knew that I had found my pack, and I haven’t been dissatisfied since.
The culture of Ylva Publishing underscores the pack mentality in the best possible way. Fellow authors, like me, understand that bringing a book into the world isn’t a one-woman endeavor, so they team up to answer my questions and provide numerous resources. Even self-published writers are not lone wolves. I know multiple awesome and talented authors who are self-published, and they too maintain a pack mentality, partnering with book-jacket artists, social media consultants, and book bloggers.
The image of the lone writer is as problematic as the image of the lone wolf: both the writer and the wolf, generally, must find a pack to navigate expansive and sometimes hostile territories.
I was born into a family of writers and wordsmiths. Fortunately, though, I overcame my surly loner ways, and learned that my writing is stronger when I embrace a pack mentality. Too, I honor the readers by ensuring that my works are worth their time and energy.
My name will go on the front cover of my debut novel, Strange Attractors (Ylva Publishing, 2022); however, in my name, I will see the other names of my fellow pack members.