I had an incredible opportunity this past week, one which I am profoundly grateful for, and will continue to be, although it did not pan out. A fairly substantial publishing company contacted me regarding the possibility of publishing killing Mother (the book). I was asked to submit a couple of chapters to their editorial committee for consideration for publication in the fall of 2012. I swallowed deeply and submitted a couple of rough chapters.
Today I got a response, “There are many strengths in the work you submitted, but the consensus was that while you eloquently describe the problems we are facing, the balance of material was somewhat more weighted towards describing and deconstructing those problems than to providing the concrete antidotes and strategies needed to move beyond them.” After a sharp jolt to the stomach (I had been trying to avoid getting my hopes up, but they were up nevertheless), I reflected. The acquisitions editor and her editorial board are absolutely correct in their impressions.
Knowing this particular publisher is primarily “solutions based,” I was frankly surprised when they contacted me in the first place. I have worked out pages upon pages of sustainable solutions for our world in crisis, but when I read them back to myself, they always sound shallow and naïve because I personally don’t believe them. Being the scientist and avid student of human behavior that I am, in reality, sadly, I do not hold out much hope for our species in the long run. Sure, we have solutions, but we lack the cultural and universal will that will be required to enact them. My authentic self just can’t buy into the rainbows and sunshine and happily ever after.
I do have a bright vision for the future of nature. It is one that involves a Planet Earth with many, many fewer people on it (2 billion maximum), limited technology and cultures that value all life, not just human life, equally. This vision is a solution, but getting there is not going to be pretty. When one looks objectively at the numbers and the science, suggesting a painless and pretty solution is just not authentic.
The timing of my literary rejection was fortuitous nonetheless. The email arrived at 5:45 pm, and at 6, I was off to yoga with the incomparable David Bowen (Turks and Caicos). The class was so phenomenal that I actually did forget about my disappointment completely. By the time class was over, I realized that all had transpired as it should. killing Mother’s message is not intended to be one of false hope. We are probably doomed as a species because of our own arrogant stupidity.
But nevertheless, the sun shines. I went home after yoga with my still-sexy husband of 22 years, devoured him and some black beans and rice that had been simmering in the crock pot all day and read a great and funny book before bedtime. Tomorrow I will go for a walk on the glorious beach of Providenciales before heading north again just in time for the fall colors of the Southern Appalachians. Life is good, and it goes on. This is the message I know is true.