It Takes a Village to Write a Book, Part 1

time to celebrate. Sent query to agent. Thanks to the village. Some people think of writing as a solitary activity. You sit at your computer in the attic, typing and eating bonbons, as one of my teachers has said. Or drinking wine. Or whiskey. Alone.

In reality, the successful writers I know all depend upon a community. A friend to edit first drafts. A reading group. A writing workshop. Often, a supportive partner.

In writing my first novel, Spice Lady: A Novel With Recipes, the village is so large that not all of the names will fit in this post. In fact, I could write another book about the village, and the process. But don’t worry, I won’t.

Instead, I’ll get a start with a few thank yous here, with more in future posts.

This week I am sending the first part of my book to an agent. As an author, I know there is no guarantee of success. But getting it out there feels like a big accomplishment in itself, so I want to take the time to thank a few people of the many who helped get me here:

  • The good folks at the Writer’s Center, from former director Charles Jenson, and current director Stewart Moss, to my writing teachers, especially Kathryn Johnson and Shannon O’Neil. Mostly, the participants in the Writing Staycation class I facilitate, because, as all instructors know, the students often do a lot of schooling!
  • The friends who reviewed drafts and gave me feedback. For starters I will just mention the early readers: Sarah Madsen, writer extraordinaire, Micah Trapp, foodie buenisima, and Lorin Kleinman, careful reader and recipe tester. Also, my sister Rachel Heckscher and her dear husband Eric “Bluby” Olson. Their early encouraging reviews gave me the spirit to keep on keeping on.
  • The other novel with recipe writers out there. Ok, truth be told, I have never met any of them. But their examples gave me inspiration. Nora Ephron, I wish I could have met you, and I thank you for Heartburn. Laura Esquivel, Like Water for Chocolate helped me find the magic in all flavors of food writing. And Tamar Myers, I never knew there was an Mennonite murder mystery/recipe genre before I found your books. You rule the genre, and your books inspire.

My deepest thanks to you and all the village. Stay tuned for more gratitude.

Key members of the village that makes it possible for me to write.


About Zahara Heckscher

Writer, educator, social justice advocate. Co-author of How to Live Your Dream of Volunteering Overseas (Penguin, 2002) and forthcoming Volunteer Travel Reimagined: The Learning Service Guide. Instructor at The Writer's Center in Bethesda, MD and co-inventor of The Poetry Game. Mom, wife, cancer thriver, advocate for a world of justice.
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1 Response to It Takes a Village to Write a Book, Part 1

  1. Susan Hughes says:

    That was lovely, Zahara. Best of luck with your novel!

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