redlining: when words queue up in the wings
a peek at the cover…
it’s those two little eggs. they’re what bring me to tears. well, that and the fact that i’ve not slept too much this whole last week. it’s what happens when you’re redlining. which, in the world of books with your name on the cover, means you are weighing every last alphabet letter, typing, trying words on for size. hitting delete (a lot of hitting delete), then typing some more. you’re nearing the end.
i’d been waiting and waiting. for months. and then, with not even a whisper, not even a ping (i was at a funeral, and my phone was turned off), the whole 240-some pages slid in under the so-called transom (as if a laptop came with an office door, an opaque glass door, with your name etched on the face, and a doorknob that creaked when you turned it, as back in the movies and sitcoms of a whole other era).
at first, i was trembling too much to peek. i knew that this round — the one after your words have been wrung through the copy-edit machine, after the production editor puts her very fine eye to every last comma and dash, and all the words in between — this round weighed more than the others in the editing room. the closer you get to the end, the closer you get to the day the big box arrives, when you pull back the tape, and stare at the stacks, the ones with your words, covered and bound, the more it all weighs.
i quelled my butterflies. all but stuffed them back in the jar where they belong, the one with the air holes punched in the lid. and then i dove in.
i’m done with round one, the round where you read on the screen. now i move onto round two, the one where you read from pages and pages, actual paper. actual trees, felled for the service of smoothing, and fixing, and hoisting up line after line, as many notches as my brain and my heart and imagination can muster.
which means my brain cells are thirsty for coffee. and my muscles and bones are aching for sleep. and while i practice my finger-stretching exercises, the warmups for another day with the red pen and keyboard, i figured i’d give you a peek at the cover. i’d had no idea it had slid off the art director’s drafting table. certainly no idea it was over on amazon, where, with the click of a button, you too can take a close look.
you can even read how they describe it, those folks who do the describing:
Barbara Mahany writes, “Mothering was my crash course in love. Love of the sort I call Divine. Love in the way we yearn to be loved: Without end. Without question. Without giving in to exhaustion. Love with a big and boundless heart. Love with eyes and ears wide open. Love even when it’s not so easy.”
In Motherprayer, Mahany generously shares personal love letters on the mysteries and gifts of mothering, interspersed with family recipes and gentle essays, all offering beautiful lessons in how to love, and how to love breathtakingly. In her bracingly honest style, Mahany lifts up the everyday—the hard, the glorious, the laughter, and the tears—and invites readers to pay attention, cradle our loved ones in prayer, and see the sacred lessons in loving.
which is why i’d better get back to the redline. which is why i nearly toppled off my chair the day i stumbled onto those words. i was minding my business, one fine afternoon, just clicking around on the keyboard, in that way that we do now, when suddenly one click led to another, and there it was: my next little book, idling on amazon. awaiting its turn in the racks. the book-peddling racks.
so while i head off to try out some verbs, try to find ones with sinew and heft, i’ll leave you here with a promise: i’ll tuck my whole heart, and all of my soul, into the redlining to come. and the book that comes very soon after. the book that will land just in time for mothering day. the book you’ll find at the bookstore next april.
i’m writing a book for the very best reason: for both of my boys (those two little eggs in the palest of blues up above), so they’ll know, so they can hold in their hands, someday maybe even read, the record of just how deeply they were loved. and the few things i learned along the way.
redlined, of course.
if you wrote a book, what would you put on the cover?
and as long as we’re in the book bin today, why not mention that my first book, Slowing Time, was read aloud back in the spring by a lovely woman in Nashville, and recorded, made into an audible book. i have five copies that i’m happy to give away. if you’d like a book-on-tape, if you’d like Slowing Time, with a wee bit of buttery twang, just plop a comment down below, and the first five someones who raise their sweet hand, will get an audible copy. how’s that for a friday morning adventure in listening? (my dear publisher has wanted me to do this for months, but i’ve, um, been a bit shy.)
because i love to give glories where glories are due, i am leaping off my chair to holler my lungs out in thanks to nancy watkins, the brilliant longtime chicago tribune editor, who was employed to copy edit Motherprayer (and thus made my wildest dreams come true), and the astoundingly fastidious and kind and word-perfect susan cornell, the production editor at Abingdon Press, who is shepherding each and every page to the printing press. there’s a dream team on this book, and page after page, i find myself sighing at their utter perfection. consider me enchanted. blessings to both of you. xoxox
Oh, I would love an audible of your book – what a gift that would be!
you got it. i will send you the bits and links in an email. i think all comments to wordpress have emails tucked away in some seen-only-to-me place, so i can find you……thanks for being No. 1!
jody, i just sent you an email, and it bounced back. you can email me at email@example.com/ and we can try this again!!!
Love your blog and beautiful words. Also a big audible fan!
dear deb, i’m thinking this means you’re raising your hand. would you like Slowing Time on tape, the soothing way to scrub the floor with earphones?!?!? or perhaps take a walk in the woods, listening? no, i think the birdsong would be far more soulful. anyway, i will send you everything you need. you’re no. 2!
thanks for reading. and listening.
Well your words are always the beginning of a gathering in the mind and in the heart. Sometimes, it occurs in an instant, sometimes something proofs and rises minutes, hours or days later. The thoughtful pausing, remembering, feeling, and of course attending, your deliciously descriptive letters on the page oh so easily encourage our hearts and minds to reap and sow within and without. The sweet gentle illustration on the cover is simply lovely. I see ithe sowing and the reaping, the safety and the precipice, the quietly massive potential and the import of the stewardship. Love you and your pale blue eggs and your whole nest! L’Shanah Tovah.
well bless your beautiful heart — and words — my angel across the way. if you like books on tape, you’re no. 3! will send all the juicy bits your way. much love, always. and welcome home. xoxoxo
How exciting! I didn’t know there was another book in the oven! Congratulations and I would be honored to be gifted with an audible version of Slowing Time.
I have no idea what my book cover would be without knowing what the contents would be. Hmm, food for thought. Thank you B.
there IS another book in the oven and now i’m definitely glad i decided to mention here at the chair. that one will be on tape too, believe it or not. and for now, Slowing Time is winging its way to you. in email to come before i even lace up my running shoes!!!
Barbara, your writing echoes what I feel so deeply, having raised four children and a precious little grandgirl, now eight and not needing her Grammie as much, since her sweet daddy is now married to a wonderful girl my granddaughter calls Mommy. I was ruffling through memorabilia this morning, came across a folded note covered with stickers and two stick people running toward each other with arms outstretched, “I love you” scrawled underneath in proud kindergarten penmanship. I immediately welled up, exactly as I do when reading your words.
I’d be so thrilled to receive this book, bam, but if not, I’m thrilled and very grateful for your gift of words.
Thank you, for the love you share.
dear B, it’s yours!!! sending all you need via email in two seconds. i love that you stumbled on that note. sounds like the very sorts of notes i live to stumble into. i hope you find something deeply tender in Motherprayer, and in the meantime, here comes Slowing Time. bless you much!!
you’re number 5, so deepest apologies to whomever wanted to be next or next.
B…..time to get a date on the calendar for a book signing and sharing of Motherprayer….Can’t wait! Jackie
soon as i come up for air. this afternoon — on top of the manuscript — 400 debaters are landing at our high school for a national tournament, and i get to spend the weekend feeding, soothing and whatever else-ing they need.
i’ll be gasping for air by sunday night!
You have such a huge heart…bless you! No rush….just know that we really do want you to come back when you are ready.
Great! I’d love to sit and absorb your words and air when you come back our way!
Love love love reading your thoughtful words every Friday Barbara! Can’t wait until April.
bless your magnificent heart, sweetheart. xoxox
I’m so thrilled for you!! I know I’ll get tears when I read it, I just know I will.
When I was faced with an empty nest, I struggled and finally and came up with a new role. that I called Spiritual Mother that sadly got interrupted by TBI. I had to find new mothers for myself as I healed. Not sure my family likes the new me, but it’s what I’m dealt. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us ‘at the table!!’
I guess I’ve been called to “mother” myself too!!
bless your heart, beautiful lou. i’m glad you found “the chair” in your healing journey, and we’re so blessed that we found you. xoxox
Pausing to tell you how happy I am for you – a book nearly done. Such a lovely sense of work well done.
bless your heart! i am melted by the mountains of kindness at the chair today……
I cannot wait until your beautiful, beautiful book is in print and in my hands, hopefully with a special inscription from wonderful you! Blessings to you, dear friend, as you perfect these words from your heart~ xxoo
I will hand-deliver! Xoxox
Blessed be …,, may you soon say amen with a red pen and a few “… ” for all that is to come
The ellipses of wonderment…
Bless you, chair sister, here from the start! Xox
What a wonderful accomplishment. Sending wishes that the final redlining goes quickly and easily.
What Amy said! xoxoxoxoxo
Xoxoxxxx! You, the one who keeps me upright….
I just pre-ordered my copy of Motherprayer from Harvard Bookstore. Can’t wait for an email next spring (?) telling me it’s ready for pick up! xoxoxo
My heart just melted into a thousand pieces ( and that’s a good thing!) you inspired my heart through this journey, kindred mama spirit…
I count it a blessed day when I plucked your book from the new book shelf in my library. Then I added a copy to my own shelf and found my quiet place at the table where time is slow and thoughtful.
I’ll look forward to the spring beauty from your heart, Barbara.
the notion that someone would have found the way to this table through the “new book shelf” at the library is pretty much the melting-est thing i can imagine. i remember writing the essay, “mullipuffed,” shortly before Slowing Time was being cast to the winds. i had no idea where or how it would travel, but i prayed mightily that it would find its way to every heart to whom it might whisper. you have been such a blessing here, and to me. believe me in the early days after a book has been birthed, the kindness that comes in is life-saving. it’s a scary thing to put your heart or your soul out for all the world to read, to weigh in on, and i have been held up wholly on the wings of others’ kindness. so thank you once again for your supreme kindness. and thank goodness you found your way to the table…..
I’m sure the five copies have been spoken fore, but who was the woman,an who read your book onto the tape?
And your cover looks beautiful, MDP
her name is Christi Bowen, and she’s a Nashville voice-over artist. she does not have a nashville twang. but a buttery voice with a tinge of the south. she seems to be a sweetheart in the couple emails we exchanged.
okay, so i am #38 to respond. ohhhhhhhh!! but how grand to know Slowing time is a book on tape…and how fittingly coincidental – in the Mahany family saga – that the voice has that Southern twang, like having some ice tea, or a mint julep, on the porch…
sweet angel, my heart would leap if you were the 838th person to respond! because finding you here is pure joy. a mint julep and motherprayer — now there’s an equation! can’t wait till a copy lands with a plop on your porch. xoxoxoxoxo sending much love from my house to yours….
A rainy day up here in BC and I am reading again some of your posts. I must say this book cover is perfect!! Just perfect! The nest is beautiful! Love the brown sketch and the pop of two blue eggs! Always love your beautiful heart and am so very excited for this book !!! Your mom must be so excited!! We also know your dad and my mom and dad are beaming!!!! Your heart and words are such a blessing!!! xoxo
On Fri, Oct 7, 2016 at 6:22 AM, pull up a chair wrote:
> bam posted: ” a peek at the cover… it’s those two little eggs. they’re > what bring me to tears. well, that and the fact that i’ve not slept too > much this whole last week. it’s what happens when you’re redlining. which, > in the world of books with your name on the co” >
oh, sweet mary, bless your heart. i love that you always mention your mama and my papa whenever the subject is love of words. xoxoxo