You never know what you don’t know you know. The learning curve for book publishing leads to alien territory where knowing what to do and what not to do is a bit like prowling a maze. You begin with confidence, treading with purpose, striding along a path that seems to be going somewhere, never mind you don’t know where. You have confidence in yourself, your book, your subject and you don’t know you have no clue that there are snoobies, and then monsters along the way.
There are good fairies for sure, with come hither smiles, and not much else, who entice with empty promises, bad advice, and more smiles. and before you know it, you doubt the showing of that much tooth. These are mostly not going to be your best buds. Well. You feel that confidence slipping right off your countenance.
You might be about to be fleeced. Forget “might”. Fleece might be guaranteed. Then again, perhaps serendipity, happy coincidence, the angels sing (doubtful) and you have a marriage with someone who cares as much about your story as you do. You hope. So. What’s it all about, Alfie? Why do you care, explain your passion, jump in while waving your check and swallow those ugly words: pay to publish.
Here’s what you want to know: why do I care so much that this book gets to market.
Six million women carried the nation while their men fought, bled and often died holding back the incomprehensible enemy. The wheels continued to turn, shops stayed open, trains and boats and planes ran and the machine of war got built and delivered. By women.
They came to the effort in broad strides, never mind all most of them knew was sheltered time with mom and dad, in the village, on the farm, and the city. Most had never held a job. They could do this. They just knew it. They did it with a vengeance and in the doing found their worth. They were united in a goal that yielded gifts they didn’t know they needed. They discovered their destiny and often it was not to marry and keep house. Above all that, they found themselves to be anything but what society and the government said they were.
They knew it and warned their missing men. They wrote letters saying so. “I’m not the sweet thing you left when you went away to war. You might not like who I’ve become. And I’m not going back.”
Valiant is not too strong a word. Young enough to still believe they could do anything, they did. Their average age was about 19. Babies. Inexperienced. Filled with patriotism. They had this idea they were as important as the men. They understood their contribution and threw their hearts into the work. They loved the idea that while the men were gone, they were holding the line, keeping it all together, and while many of them, like my mother, did dangerous work, it counted. They counted. Unbeknownst to them, the change they delivered would determine the future of the country, not in terms of safety, but in terms of growth. Seventy five years later, their daughters and granddaughters would have identity in the workplace and two women would be running for the office of the presidency of the United States of America.
They knew their impact in the day. They knew the terms: when the men returned, the jobs would go to them. They understood it. But when the plants were padlocked and the women were no longer needed in this capacity, when the war ended, they felt cast aside, and were. They had served their purpose. Their contribution blurred. Time to tend house, make babies, try to heal their men. And feel abandoned.
Many women were thrilled to put the war away, to marry and live happily ever after. To get acquainted with the returning warriors, those now unrecognizable boys to men. PTSD was rampant and unnamed. And untreated. Johnny came marching home again, hurrah, hurrah. And pretty messed up. Man up, guys, swallow the pain and the grief and the battle weariness , we have a nation to rebuild. The new world was beckoning and they all had their part to play.
The fallout was frightening, some of it out loud and shouting, but much of it stuffed deep, hidden where it festered until it took a shape to define what it was, brooding, dark and even sinister. The nights rang with remembered terror, even years after the end of war.
In that slow burning fire a new nation was forged, wounds healed over but never healed, and all of it affected the children of those unions. Little kids of hope and even joy, born to bear the weight of the walking wounded.
Mama claimed her children from the orphanage and embarked on a journey to wholeness never quite achieved. The house was filled with dysfunctional people, no rudder, no oars. Groping along seemed normal. Our components looked much like those of everyone else. There were no other choices.