Sunday, July 19, 2009

Reading the Tea Leaves

Glasses of lemonade and tea. Check. A plate of cookies. Check. A laptop set to run through power point presentation. Check. Children in the basement with a movie set to go. Check. Manuscript in hand. Check. All that I needed were some bodies to fill the seats we had set up in my grandmother’s living room, and I would be ready to run through my first book presentation.

It is a scene reminiscent of the numerous tea parties I attended that got me here in the first place, but I am the one in the hot seat this time. I am relieved to see some of the faces who attended a tea party at the start of the project, and I’m thankful for the new additions who have come just to listen to the reading. At every research party I attended, I was the note-taker and the interviewer. I never shared my story, nor the darkness that motivated me to make changes in my life, but the readings are the story behind the project.

Each time I read the first chapter I am thrust back to that difficult time in my life and in my marriage, but it does seem to be getting easier each time I let a little more of it go. So much has changed and I am at such a better and happier place than I was six years ago, that I had to reassure my listeners today that I have moved well beyond the malaise of those memories. The chapters after the first one are about how I built back what was broken and mended what was weak, as well as what I have found that will be important for the years ahead, but that is not what I read today.

I was unaware during the reading that one of the women had started to cry, and I guess when the story is sad, it is an okay thing to evoke that kind of response. Over the course of this project, I have learned to expect the unexpected, and now that I have started the readings, I should be just as prepared for surprises. Some will be better than others, and I have no doubt that, as I diligently pursue publishers, I will be disappointed with rejection, but I feel safe enough to stick my neck out. There are too many women who have supported me along the way to not land softly on those hard rocks ahead. My gratitude is very real for the women who came today and offered words of support and encouragement. This project is moved by the engine of such women, and it is for them and because of what they do for me, that I hope to have a chance to see this book in print someday.

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