"I had pictured my life as linear, but now an unseen artist put all our walks together in one place on one canvas. Everything fit." (page 192)
It is not so coincidental that I was reading Leaving: One Woman's Story of Verbal Abuse by the Marguerite Morris as I traveled back and forth for a gig where I work, coach, judge, and as needed, and when not in conflict with those I'm judging, provide editorial guidance to debut authors as they bring their new books into the world. Doing so is a big part of what I do and who I am now. It's awfully humblebraggy to tell you that I always thought I could be good at all this, and I am. It is less so to say that I enjoy it immensely. And it is something else entirely to say that the first person who ever paid for my editorial feedback and coaching was none other than Marguerite Morris who picked me from a list of potential manuscript consultants at the Northwestern University Summer Writer's Conference. I was paid to read the opening ten pages of Marguerite's manuscript and meet with her for an hour. We ended-up talking off and on for another year or so and now there's this book, Leaving, published, out in the world and entirely riveting.
"Had I been holding my breath for thirty years?" (page 50)
When I had read only the beginning of Leaving, I told Marguerite that when the book was published it would save lives. I said that because I knew her story would resonate with countless readers where abuse, verbal and otherwise, is a reality they know all too well. I also believed it could be published, which is an entirely different thing. Her story alone deserved to be told, and maybe not everything, every life, and yes, every story, has to be a book, but Margeurite's work read like a horror story, full of dread and well observed, a mix of detail and emotions readers would relate to. And it's not that we know what will be published when we set out to write a book, or even provide editorial, but we have to believe the work can be published and then make it so. Still, more than that, we have to finish our manuscripts. I say to authors in general, and clients in particular, "there is no book until there is a book." It's not intended to be cute of pithy, but we have to reach the end of the manuscript before we can talk about getting it published or the book's potential impact on the world. That Leaving is now a book that I could receive in the mail, read and write about here is terribly moving in and of itself. That the writing itself is also terribly moving, and that Margeurite takes us on her journey, and journeys, literal and otherwise, both realistic and dreamy, including, but not limited to her ability to breathe, again, is a triumph. Do I still believe Leaving will save lives, I do, and do I also believe that reading it will change your life? Unquestionably.