I tried again. I sent a query letter to another publishing company. With the query I sent two sample chapters, a table of contents, and a vita.
The next day I found an email in my mailbox. Send the whole manuscript, the publisher said.
A few months later, though, their response was more complicated. They were open to publication—but only with successful revisions.
A memoir can have two narrative voices, I learned—the experiencing narrator and the remembering one. I had told my story as the experiencing narrator. I had written about my experiences in second grade at Yoder School and at Bendle High in the Flint public schools. What was missing, they said, was reflection from the older, remembering narrator.
Fifty years later, what were my thoughts on the horrified fascination I had felt reading Orwell’s book 1984 about Big Brother watching? Now that I had taught school for 30 years, how did I interpret that time when I showed up to class late because my car was stolen and a professor refused to let me take a quiz?
This proposed revision with double narrators daunted me. But I anchored myself at the dining room table and start writing, once again.
I resubmitted my manuscript. And some weeks later, I found another email from Cascadia Publishing House in my inbox. And this was the heading: Congratulations, YODER SCHOOL, formally accepted for publication.
(I hope you’ll consider buying a book in the early fall.)