Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Making a good book great

Once, a friend of mine, who has her own editing service ( http://www.wordmountain.com/ ), made a suggestion to me about my essay collection on deaf parenting: Team up with an expert or professional to make this book not so much about MY experiences as a deaf parent, but more of a book ABOUT deaf parenting.

There are two reasons why I eventually decided not to do this. One is that I was worried that, if I did that, it would kill it. The end result would NOT be a book in support of deaf parenting or something to actually HELP deaf parents, but it'd turn into a book where deaf parents might as well be laboratory rats underneath the looming telescopic lens of the world.

Here is the other reason: Once upon a time, I got so much criticism and grief from family members who knew I was writing this book. They essentially mocked my qualifications for writing it, chiding me about not being an expert and how, if I made a comment about parenting, they'd sarcastically suggest, "You should put that in your book." Because of this, after extensive soul-searching and being angry at them for judging me and my book, a book they hadn't even READ, I decided to just make it a "personal book." Just publish it as an essay collection, nothing more. Make it a "how I do it" type of book, instead of something that said "this is how you can do it, too."

So I went about my merry way, fixing up the book to make it more personal and making sure there was NOTHING in there in which I come across as a "wannabe expert." I figured this was just as good, you know? It would STILL offer some tips and techniques on how to handle deaf parenting, and it may even inspire other deaf parents with ideas and support.

Then I started talking to deaf parents about this book and all of a sudden I heard a cry from them. A cry that said, "WE NEED THIS BOOK!" Basically, there were deaf parents out there struggling with poor confidence, low self-esteem and a host of discrimination episodes from teachers, doctors and friends. Even their own family members! There were deaf parents out there who didn't know what to do, where to turn, and how to find the resources that they needed.

One thing about this book is that there is nothing else like it on the market. There is NO OTHER book on deaf parenting giving readers, both hearing and deaf, such a generous inside look at the world of a deaf parent. And since this book will be filling that void, why not take it the extra mile?

Instead of making it my story...why not make it instead my sword? My sword to give to deaf parents.

Like Jesus said in the Bible, "I do not come to bring peace, but a sword." He gave His people weapons to fight their battles with. And I think my book should do the same thing. It should give other deaf parents out there exactly what they need to keep on keepin' on.

The problem is, I don't know what EXACTLY I should add to this book to make it do that. Besides a list of resources, pictures and magazine/newspaper articles to read. I thought of asking other deaf parents out there to contribute their own stories, but then that'd turn this book into an anthology and there's NO WAY I would do an anthology! Then I thought I could include articles in the book -- maybe my SIGNews articles on deaf parenting? -- but I'm not sure if that'll be sufficient. I just don't know how to take this book a step further to make it the valuable resource that deaf parents need.

But, I'll think of something.

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  • At 10:03 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Hi Dawn! Interesting post, and I'm glad that you still are interested in this project that you've already worked so hard on. What I'd really hoped for, after reviewing and editing a lot of your work was that you'd either find someone who has considerable expertise in helping deaf parents to work on the book with you, or at least find professionals to endorse it once you're finished.

    A while back when I was looking at your manuscript, I scouted around for books on deaf parenting issues, and didn't find much. That was a while ago, though, I haven't looked recently. But the market certainly seemed open, and you have a unique opportunity to meet a need.

    I still think it would be really great if you wrote a book that acknowleged and discussed the particular challenges of deaf parents, but most specifically offers SOLUTIONS to said challenges.

    I think that a book like that could help many people for a long time.

    Don't give up,


  • At 4:33 AM , Blogger John Robison said...

    Have you read my book, Look Me in the Eye? It's about growing up with Asperger's syndrome, a mild form of autism. People read my story and draw inferences for their own lives, and it's widely held to be inspiring.

    Perhaps it will give yo some ideas for your own work.

  • At 7:45 AM , Blogger Dawn Wilson said...

    Thanks for the comments.

    Lisa, this book has SERIOUSLY gone through some major revisions since you last saw it. I've definitely reslanted a lot of the essays to offer concrete solutions to problems. I realize this could conflict with my trying not to pass myself off as an expert, but these are solutions that have worked for me and maybe they could inspire others, as well. I've gotten interesting pointers on the WC to help out on that.

    Hi, John. I'm sorry, I haven't read your book. I will look for it. Thank you for providing your own success story. :) I hope I can have the same luck with my book!


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