Do those words bring to mind doodling in a notebook during class? I certainly found myself doing that back in the day, especially when the subject matter was less than riveting.
More recently, in my work supporting authors through the publishing process, I’ve come to understand “writing in the margins” in a figurative sense. Because that’s when many books get written — in the margins of time — before work, after the kids go to bed, on the weekend…
And often, once the writing is done, this mantra holds true for the next phase, which becomes publishing in the margins. I used to wonder how my email inbox could sit quietly for the majority of the day (except for spam, of course), then roar to life during the evening hours with design feedback, proof corrections and publishing questions. Eventually I realized that while writing a book is an important goal for lots of folks, the time they can devote to it has to fit in around other priorities.
This is especially true for those who are publishing their first, and perhaps only, book. They are not making a career of writing; more likely, they are writing a book to support their career and juggling multiple balls in the process.
If this is you, kudos for chipping away at it however you can. When life gets in the way (and it will), weeks can turn into months, making the dream of holding your book in your hands more elusive than ever. That’s when you need to remember that publishing a book really is hard, which is a key reason why those who do so get plenty of credit for the accomplishment.
Staying the course when hiccups happen is the first hurdle. Another obstacle is finding answers to questions you don’t know you have. Throughout the writing, you are the expert — it’s your own knowledge, experience, or characters shaping the words of your story. But when you reach “the end,” the next steps can be unclear.
Please don’t let the unfamiliar territory ahead dissuade you. Just as you would hire a guide on a travel adventure, seek professionals to help you navigate the publishing process. Not only will their expertise enhance the value of your book, it will maximize those precious margins of time to bring you ever closer to becoming a published author.
“Pay attention to the cracks, because that’s where the light gets in.”
Whether your margins are slim or substantial, leverage every opportunity to keep moving forward because the story only you can tell has a place in the world. May this be the year your story finds the light.