Orchids are not exactly my favourite flowers. They do fascinate me. For years I’ve tried to grow cymbidium orchids. Some years they bloom with festive joy. Other years they sulk. This has been a sulking year. My orchid plants have been neglected while I’ve been writing, rewriting, worrying. Not one bud has emerged.
I’ve been working on a manuscript for years. The title, not surprisingly, is ‘Elopement: a memoir.’ What else would I call a book about eloping? John and I married the day after his seventieth-first birthday. I turned seventy later that year.
The evening of the day we celebrated our secret, romantic marriage, we flew to Paris. Our return six weeks later was marked by mixed responses from family and friends. We had shocked them!
In the olden days, a manuscript that had been sent out so many times would be dog-eared. The internet changed that. Publishers have been kind. Some have liked it. Others said they do not think it is commercially viable. Perhaps that’s publisher-speak. Maybe they mean a book about old people is not interesting. I’ll never know.
Sister Mary Theophane taught me for the last three years of my school-life in the 1950s. As well as school subjects, she taught me valuable life lessons. She showed me how women in any position can be feminists. That was in the days when first wave feminists, the suffragettes, were becoming a distant memory. Few people outside France had heard of the French philosopher Simone de Beauvoir.
A few years after I left school, Mary Theophane went to complete a PhD at the Sorbonne University in Paris. That must have been her dream.
Not giving up on something you believe in was one lesson I learned well from Mary Theophane . And her twin idea was, ‘If you start something, finish it’. That’s one reason why I’ve spent so much time on my manuscript. It might help explain why I’ve persevered in the hope of traditional publishing.
There’s a downside, of course. It means that if I can’t finish something, I get stuck. Who else, for example, has taken thirteen years to complete a Bachelor of Arts Degree? Why would I persist with orchids plants that don’t flower?
So, in the interests of my sanity (and John’s) I’ve decided to self-publish. If I don’t, this manuscript will hang around for the rest of my life, finished and waiting for someone else to publish. The decision was not easy. Other People’s Country, my first book, was accepted within two weeks by the first place I sent it to. I had hoped this would happen again.
What, you may well ask, does this have to do with orchids? I guess it is about perseverance. I don’t plan to give up on my manuscript or my orchids.
As a distraction, John and I went to the Western Australian Winter Cymbidium Orchid Show last week. These are some of the beautiful plants we saw.
I’m looking forward to sharing my new, self-publishing adventure in future blogs.
I’d love to hear your comments. Thank you.