This past week has been a whirlwind of photo research for my book about Labor Organizer Fannie Sellins! I told you about sending in the final manuscript, and my prediction that I would probably see it again.
It came back alright, with a massive change. The editor decided not to have an artist illustrate portions of the book, but to use only photographs. I went from providing 10-12 photographs to 40!
I collected many great pictures while researching the story since 2007. The one above shows mining families in company housing, similar to those on strike in West Virginia when Fannie Sellins went to jail. She was arrested for speaking publicly about the union. Union miners had to meet secretly because it was against the law to speak about labor unions.
Some photos that look fine on the computer screen are not sufficient quality for publication. Much of the photo research process is discovering the original source to find out if a high resolution copy exists and if I can gain permission to use it.
Below are two photos not good enough for the book.
I was initially disappointed the book would not include illustrations to portray some of the critical scenes in the story of Fannie's life and death. But letting go is part of the publishing process. Erasing the vision I’ve carried in my mind for many years and being open to a whole new concept is part of the process.
It’s a grief process, which happens over and over again as the story is editor, art director, and yes, sales and marketing. Abrams publishes amazing books (like Pure Grit), so I trust the process will produce a book which is better than I could have imagined alone.
I found myself experiencing the necessary stages of grief--denial, anger, bargaining (yes, I tried to convince my editor to see it my way) then pain and finally acceptance. Not a big deal compared to many of the losses we suffer in life, but still important, and also, good practice.
In the second half of life, loss is a loyal companion. I enjoy the freedom that comes each time I practice letting go. And I look for the new opportunity that often presents itself. In this case, I’m totally psyched about the new vision for Fannie’s story. The book will be chock full of amazing historical photos, and I’m confident my words will do their job well.
I can’t always let go in a matter of days. Many losses are more difficult and acute pain cannot be avoided. I’d love to hear about your experience of letting go. Do you think it helps to practice? Can we move through difficult losses with more grace if we’ve exercised the letting-go muscle? Or am I just building up my defenses, thinking I will be able to avoid the pain of losses to come? Share your thoughts below.
I'm fascinated to discover little-known stories of history. Stories of people and events that provide a new perspective on why and how things happened, new voices that haven't been heard, insight into how the past brought us here today, and how it might guide us to a better future.
I also post here about my books and feature other authors and their books on compelling and important historical topics.
Occasionally, I share what makes me happy, pictures of my garden, recipes I've made, events I've attended, people I've met. I'm always happy to hear from readers, in the blog comments, by email or social media.