While sitting in the corner coffee shop, with glass windows from top to bottom, I could see the neighborhood book shop across the way, also wrapped around a corner with glass windows from top to bottom. The clothing store next door to the book shop looked empty, but the book shop was filled with customers browsing the shelves for their book of choice. From my position in the coffee shop, I could observe people coming around the corner; working men with their trolleys, a grandmother pushing her cranky grandchild in a stroller, three friends out on a day of fun – better known as a shopping spree, mother and daughter talking about this or that (I obviously couldn’t hear their conversation) but possibly it was about the daughter's latest boyfriend. Once again I see the trolley guy walking back around the corner, this time with an empty trolley, back to his truck probably on his way to the next drop off. As I make all these observations, I hear sounds in the background, the continuous sounds of the espresso machine, spurting steamed milk – hissing away. People are ordering their coffee, talking. Suddenly the background music blasts in my ears. Maybe blasting is an exaggeration, but the volume is undoubtedly turned up to create more buzz in the background. This coffee shop used to be quiet, but being updated and all to attract the younger customers, the noise element was superimposed. A man talks on his cell phone at the counter with absolutely no consideration whatsoever for those sitting a few inches away. I wonder, whether he realizes his conversation is of no interest to the other customers? His voice has an annoying ring to it, and is getting progressively more annoying. I must leave.
But I don't because it is in this coffee shop that I often wrote a large part of my first book. I felt inspired here. This is not an ordinary coffee shop. It is a Hungarian coffee shop with pastries that have just the right cream and just the right taste (éclairs, napoleons, seven layer cakes, cookies galore…). The average age customer used to be about seventy-five. I often came here with my parents. My father loved the Marzipan pastries, his favorite. My mother and I, we relished the chocolate croissant. After my mother died, I came here alone, inspired here by the age and the wisdom surrounding me, coffee made to perfection in just the right sized mug, and a chocolate croissant to feed my soul.
I finished my book or guide, whatever you choose to label it, about a year ago. According to the "publishers," my manuscript didn't fall into any labeled category. It was too short to be a "book" and too long to be an "article." It didn't fit on the shelf with the other books. It wouldn't hold its own. I guess eighty-nine pages really isn't a book or credible for that matter. Anyway, I didn't like the idea of my book standing upright alongside the other soldiers on the shelf. Wasn't my masterpiece supposed to stand out?
Being an unknown author also didn't help much in the way of publishing. It's not all about talent and subject matter. The publishing company has to make a financial gain and business is always about money. That's understandable. And so it occurred to me that I might have to publish this "not a book, not an article thing" on my very own. I wanted this book to look a certain way with the cover of my choice, artistically done with upbeat colors, designed by a creative person, the size I chose and not filled with needless repetition of the text so that my book could stand upright alongside the other books, I call them soldiers on the shelf – ha! (My options: to forcibly lengthen my book if the bookshelf was my goal).
I wanted this book (concise as it is) to be different, maybe not a masterpiece in the literary sense – but I’m hoping the subject of children with learning disabilities, will send an important message to children, parents and teachers, even if it’s in the slightest way. I don't want a book that is a carbon copy of its shelf neighbor, visually or in style. I'm not interested in what's acceptable or not. Being a carbon copy of your friend, neighbor or colleague is boring. Being who you are, that's the best way to go and that's what counts.
And so, as is true to a child with learning disabilities, my book too is different and didn't fall into the "right" category. (Too short for a book, too long for an article?) The rules are too rigid – why identify this "thing?" Helpful words? Giberish? Wisdom? Why label? Is that really so important? And so here it is, in its original form, as I created it, as it should flow… without compromise.
As I sat at the glass window in the coffee shop looking across at the book shop, one year ago, I felt frustrated, wondering if my message would ever find its way to the bookstore. I imagined seeing my book calling out to me from the glass window across the way, but when? Even though my book would never be a best seller, by nature of its subject matter, it had a message, and I wanted to share that message. You will never know or be able to comprehend how much the need to share that message burned within me. I sent out my manuscript to many publishers. I received many rejections in the form of a standard letter with no explanation. It is tedious work researching publishers, sending manuscripts, and waiting what seems forever for a reply. The hopes and dreams in only a second fall down to point zero when that rejection comes in the mailbox. The anticipation is indescribable, maybe this time, if only… if only there was one publisher who was able to understand the message.
And then there was one.