Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Book Submissions - Author Suggestions

I got this today in my email and thought it sounded like a very good idea:

- I was wondering if you might want to offer "author guidelines", like what you want people to focus on (e.g. part 1- story, part 2- where you are now, part 3- how you cope, what you have learned-- I'm just making this up). Otherwise you may get stories all over the place (but again, maybe you want that, I don't know).

She also asked what kind of tone I want to set with the book.  In thinking about this, I really want to be able to put out a positive book that will allow people to tell your stories, voice your frustration, anger, fear, depression, etc..  But I would life to also talk about how you have learned to live with your illness, what you do to overcome your limitations, what are some positive things about your illness (this is hard, but I really believe there are positives to every situation).  I don't want to wallow in the fact that we have chronic illnesses or dwell in the negative, because we are so much more than our illnesses.  We want people to read our stories and empathize and understand; not get disgusted and put the book down because it's so depressing, right?

I am working really hard at putting Toni Bernhard's lessons from How to be Sick into play in my own life.  I am pacing myself, trying to live in the present moment, accepting that other people may have things going on in their own lives and it's not always about me, me, me...

That last one's a tough one, I know.  Because don't we really always think it's about me, me, me?  I know I do.  And I've been very quick to rush to judgment when people don't act the way I expect them to or keep in touch the way I think they should.  I'm learning to change the way I handle that situation and try to understand that other people have lives where things go wrong or that they might be just busy.

So, I think it would be a good idea to follow some kind of order in the way you are writing your stories and I think the suggestions in the first part of the email above are good.  Tell me what happened (and you can include all the bad, negative things that you want here), tell me where you are now, and then tell me what you have learned from having a chronic, invisible illness and how you cope every day.  It's okay that you have good days and bad and maybe some of you only have bad days.  That's okay.  This book is your voice and I want to hear it all.

Lastly, I know not everyone is a writer and I know that not all people have not gotten higher degrees or have focused on how they write.  There will be a variety of people contributing to the book and I want people from all walks of life.  I will be editing what you write, so if it's not perfect, that's okay.  But please try to spell check and do the best you can with grammar.  Please try to make your story cohesive and understandable.  And please do your best with punctuation.  It's much easier to edit something that is written carefully and thoughtfully and that has been proofread a couple of times by the author.

I appreciate every one of you who is willing to contribute to this project.  I think it's high time that people with invisible illnesses tell their stories to anyone who will listen.  Just because you can't see an illness does not mean it isn't real.

Thank you.



  1. Hi Chelle,

    I'm really loving this idea of yours! I have a couple of questions and thought that I'd ask them here in case other people may have the same questions.

    In your last post you mentioned:
    "If you suffer from chronic pain (and I would prefer stories that have this component. because it's the information I am trying to get out there)..."
    I just want to clarify as you earlier mentioned mental illnesses, would bipolar be something you are looking for, as it doesn't involve chronic pain? Or because you are bipolar you would already have a story about that and not need another?

    Also, if we were to contribute, and one day later decide to write a memoir (okay, this is a long stretch for me as I'm not the best writer but it has been suggested before) would we be able to use similar content, such as exact sentences in a future publication? I'm only talking about what we have submitted to you, obviously anything which you have specifically edited would not be acceptable.


  2. Hi Bec,

    Thanks so much for asking these questions. Mental illness, just like physical illness, involves pain. It can be emotional pain of what the illness is doing to you, the pain of losing family and friends because of your illness and the damage it causes to your relationships, or the pain of being unable to follow the path you wanted to follow in your life and not being able to support yourself in the way you would like. There is also so often the pain of having to go to social agencies and tell them about the mental illness, which can be humiliating because of the stigma. So, to say mental illness does not cause pain would be patently untrue.

    And yes, I will be accepting multiple stories about the same illness. Of course, I would love it if you would submit your story and anyone else on your website wants to as well.

    You will always have the right to publish your story in other places from me. I don't believe I have the legal right to take that away from you, nor would I want to. Anything I write would be copyrighted, but you would be absolutely free to use the story of your life anywhere else you wanted to. I am toying around with how I am going to state this in the release exactly, because if there is a story I have to edit substantially, I might want the "exact words," in the case of something I had extensively edited and worked on, to be copyrighted, but I would never tell anyone they couldn't talk about their illness to another publication because the whole point of the book is to get ourselves heard.

    I will do a blog entry about this to make sure everyone is aware that mental illness is, in fact, right in the category of what I am talking about here.

    Thanks and hugs,



I'd love to hear from you. Feel free to tag back to your blog in the body of your message. Comments are my favorite!