Birthing a Book


In response to queries about my new book—where I got the idea, how it’s progressing, when it will come out, if it can be pre-ordered, and so on—I’d like to share some of the process and answer your questions in this and the next post. I know you come here for the psychological content, but I assure you I’ll weave some of that in along the way. It won’t be difficult, since I always look for, and usually find, psychological meaning in everything! Plus, the book’s about psychology!
While certain basics never change, the details of the process—from the conception of a book, to the writing of it, to its publication—are as unique as each book. When I started writing my first psychological book , The Bridge to Wholeness:  A Feminine Alternative to the Hero Myth, in the fall of 1989, I had just retired from college teaching because of a restless discontent with my work and a deep knowing that I had something to say that was vastly different from anything I had written professionally. With no expectations for what would emerge, I followed my heart and for three or four days a week wrote a series of memoir-type essays via which I searched for meaning in my life’s most interesting and puzzling experiences. Essentially, I was re-mything my life from a Jungian perspective.

I’d been recording and working on my dreams for over a year, so I was delighted to discover that my unconscious self supported my writing by providing material at night that often inspired the next day’s work.  Six months into this project I was sitting in front of my make-up mirror one morning when a fairy tale wove its way into my awareness via a spontaneous session of active imagination. This story provided the focus that pulled all the essays together and a year later I sent a proposal and three sample chapters to ten publishers. With a hint from a dream and a suggestion from a Jungian writer, one was based in California. Three days later Lura Geiger of LuraMedia called and told me she wanted it, and my new creation entered the world in 1992!
My next book, Dream Theaters of the Soul: Empowering the Feminine Through Jungian Dream Work, underwent a very different gestation. Shortly after Bridge was launched I was again filled with restless discontent, so one day I began to explore ideas for a book to help others understand their dreams. Within a few hours I had an outline. Three months later the completed manuscript was also accepted by LuraMedia and it was published in 1994!
Encouraged by my previous successes and motivated by a powerful longing for answers to some pressing questions, in 1993 I began researching and writing the next book. Fifteen years later I had five manuscripts in my computer! Each had a different title and focus and none felt finished, but they were all related to my passion for understanding how gender and family issues, plus my religion, spiritual experiences, and psychological development had influenced my search for self-discovery and spiritual meaning.  By the summer of 2009 I had a new manuscript with a new focus that combined elements from all five. After another rewrite based on suggestions from three experts in their fields, I signed a contract with Larson Publications in March of 2011. That book will be formally launched this summer with the title, Healing the Sacred Divide: Making Peace with Ourselves, Each Other, and the World.
Honestly? The others were deeply satisfying, but this baby feels special! More about it next time.

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0 Responses

  1. Dear Jean,
    This book has a rich history and a beautiful evolution.
    Prediction: a healthy and beautiful baby will emerge.
    Looking forward to it.

  2. Jeanie,
    Thank you for your persistence and courage in sharing your inner processes with us through your books which are providing us maps for our own journey with self, soul and Self. This new birth will also undoubtedly be right on the cutting edge of what Spirit invites us all to see, claim and live ever more deeply into as we transition at this vulnerable time on earth in becoming ever more skilled in unconditional loving. I celebrate with you as you eagerly await the moment of receiving this new, completed birth into your hands! With love and gratitude, Julie

  3. Jeanie, I could be wrong but the process you describe seems fairly straightforward and, dare I say, easy. It could just seem easy to me because I’m sitting over here on the outside reading your process and because you sent out a proposal and some sample chapters and someone wanted it within three month! The second one was even quicker.
    I am in the gestation period of writing a book. I don’t even know if it is going to be a “book”. It feels a bit of a mess. I am still writing the first draft. It is a scary process. I feel like you had/have the confidence necessary to be so successful. Well, confidence and an excellent idea and fine writing skills.
    By the way, I love your workspace. It is so inviting. My space is a bit of a mess. I have papers and folders all over because of my project. I think I am going to straighten it up, place my inspiration objects around, light a candle and snap a picture. So if at any time it doesn’t look inviting I can glance up at my picture and imagine.
    Thanks for sharing your process. I hope one day soon, well, maybe not soon, but one day, I can give birth to my baby. Janice

    1. Hi Janice,
      Actually, it was surprisingly easy for the first two books, but that’s extremely unusual! Of course I had to find out how to write a proposal, find names and addresses of publishers who’d be interested in my subject matter, etc. I also made a cold call to a Jungian analyst in California who’d written a book about dreams I loved, and she was gracious enough to take my call and suggest a publisher. None of this was done without enormous self-doubt and trepidation. Perhaps confidence is simply overcoming your fear and doing it anyway.
      But getting the third one written and published was a real bear. My first two publishers had both gone out of business, so I had to start all over.I underwent a very long and challenging process of lots of reading and study, writing several manuscripts, composing several proposals and queries and sending them to several agents and publishers over several years of writing, re-writing, changing directions, starting over again, etc. Sometimes it was very discouraging, and I had pretty much resigned myself to the idea that my family would be the only ones who’d ever read whatever the final product would turn out to be. In the long run, what made the difference was my single-minded passion (you might call it obsession) for my subject matter and my dogged persistence!
      Good luck with your book! I’m glad you like my workspace. It is very inviting. My windows overlook a cypress swamp and a few minutes ago a young osprey flew up to one of them trying to get in. It’s been doing that every day for almost two weeks now! A winged messenger, perhaps?
      Thank you for writing, Jeanie

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