Remember a while back when we told you guys that we were writing a book? Well, we did. (At least until the first edits come in.)
For those of you unfamiliar with the process of submitting a completed manuscript, let’s just say that we made Kinko’s very, VERY happy yesterday.
When we first started this project, we had huge plans for chapters that would cover immigrants from almost every country in the world. After research, we had a database of over 1,000 people. We really thought that we could talk to all of them, or at least most of them. We were thinking not just one recipe from each person interviewed, but maybe 2 or 3. And then we were thinking that we could do some nice Southern riffs that would use the flavors of the different countries and bring Southern ingredients and cooking traditions to the table along with them. Yes, we were very ambitious. We were really worried about fitting everything we wanted to do into a thousand page manuscript.
When we were told that we would get 350 pages, we were really sad. We had to cut down our plans. We had to choose more carefully who we would talk to and why. We had to limit our recipes to only the recipes we were given by the people we talked to, and even then, we had to choose which recipes we could include if they gave us more than one.
Paul and I both remember a time when being told that we had to finish a 10 page paper was a nightmare. It was so hard to get enough information to fill 10 pages. I’m sure you’re all familiar with that. I know that I resorted to giving my margins that extra 1/8 of an inch because that was a small enough change that maybe the teacher or professor wouldn’t notice it. If you did that on sides, top, and bottom, it could really help. I remember getting that one line, or maybe even two on the 10th page so that I could turn in 10 pages. And I was an English major who actually enjoyed writing.
Life changes over time. It was actually really hard to cut what we wanted to do down to 350 pages. We had to leave out some really great people. And some really great food. But we did it. When it’s all on computer, 350 pages doesn’t seem like a lot, especially when it’s broken down into individual chapters that are only 20-30 pages each. (And we were tempted to fudge the margins, only this time we wanted to push them out. We thought there was a better chance of professional editors noticing that than our teachers did way back when.)
Yesterday afternoon we printed out and sent off 3 years of our lives. Over 10,000 miles of driving. Conversations and people that we’ll never forget. People that we really hope we’ll get to see again. Food that we really want to taste again.
Printed out, taking up almost a ream of paper and more ink than I even want to think about, 350 pages looks like a lot. It’s heavy. It doesn’t fit in one of those nice little FedEx boxes, especially when you’re sending off 3 copies. You have to go for one of the boxes that is actually a specific size. The lady at the counter actually has to weigh it. It actually weighs 12 pounds. (Seriously.)
But now, it’s gone. No more editing and reading and re-reading until 3am. No more weekends spent on the road hoping that people remember that they agreed to talk to us. No more deciding which cheap hotel to stay at based on our experiences with the chain’s mattress quality. (Comfort Inn is one of our favorites for that; Quality Inn will do in a pinch if it’s cheaper; EconoLodge is a cheap place to stay, but I can’t say that we ever had a comfy mattress at one.)
To be honest, we don’t know what to do with ourselves today. We both feel like we should be writing something–hence this blog post. We’re actually lost to be completely honest. There’s a big feeling of relief and accomplishment, but at the same time it was like sending away our toddler who we’ve been coddling and feeding for the last 3 years; sometimes we regretted that we had chosen to have this baby; sometimes we loved our baby more than ourselves; the terrible twos were rough, but we made it through.
So, now what?