My first picture book finally found a publisher! For me, the years of visualizing the story in my head like a movie, and the arduous writing and rewriting paid off. I believed in my dream (though it was a bit dusty). One day, I searched for a publisher. Yet, a thought nagged me.
Why would a publisher take a chance on me? Business choices are made based on dollars and cents. I tallied my knowledge. Like a duck on water, my unique life experience floated to the top. As a blind woman, I’ve been using guide dogs for twenty years. Each dog inspired me. Each dog gave me independence. “Write what you know,” I hear repeatedly at seminars and writers’ workshops.
Then I asked myself, “Who would buy my book?” Years of dealing with the public’s interest taught me that animal lovers were my target. As I wrote, I wanted to put the reader’s hand on the dog’s harness handle. Every time I dropped a picture book manuscript into the mailbox, I shrugged my shoulders and crossed my fingers. I had nothing to lose except the cost of a stamp. Besides, the numerous rejection letters could be used to create unique wallpaper in my home office.
First, I perused the existing books on the topic. Then, I thought about what I wanted to show in words. Humor had to be a cornerstone. I’ve had three dogs. All of them have shown me their comical side when we were at home and they were not guiding. I often use the analogy, “To my dog, wearing a harness is like a soldier in his uniform.” The trust for a guide dog’s ability strengthens with every safe walk. Each success is a win for the handler and dog team.
My goal is to tell a good story. However, a quote on my computer desk reminded me of an important insight. Horace, an ancient Roman poet, wrote, “To teach is to delight.” My narrative dispels the mistaken belief that guide dogs are robots. While they are being entertained, I wanted children to learn a little known truth. Like humans, guide dogs have both a playful and serious side.
In 2012, a publisher responded with the words I yearned to hear, “We like the story ñ we’ll publish it.” Since picture books require extra time for the illustrations, my book NADINE, MY FUNNY and TRUSTY GUIDE DOG will be available early in 2015.
Baby boomers, like me, have been prominent in the work force, so I learned that persistence at any age can pay off. Unearthing a dusty dream may reveal a treasure, one that can be shared with others.
Carol Fleischman’s articles cover a wide range of everyday events, from yard sales to wedding showers. Her recurring theme is life as a blind person, especially the joys and challenges of working with her guide dogs.