Friday, May 18, 2007


I love reading the acknowledgments page(s) of a novel. You learn a lot about what kind of assistance an author values, whose brains they picked for research, and most importantly you see the enormous network of people behind the writer who support/encourage/enable her to write. Reading these for me gives me the same kind of pleasure as being at the birthday party of someone who is well admired and listening to their friends and family stand up and say nice things. It also reminds me that getting a book published is the end point of a very long journey, rarely ever a result of instant success.

I'm a fan of the gushing, over-the-top acknowledgements. The kind that go beyond thanking the agent and the editor, but give you a peek into the writer's life. I've even had the good fortune to make it into someone else's acknowledgements. My friend Ellen Meister was ridiculously generous to include my name in her hilarious and tender novel The Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA --which is coming out in a very cool paperback in August: pre-order it here--when the most I ever did to help was vent and whine about how hard it is to get published :)

Since I've been in the throes (i hope final) of my book Make a Scene this past month and this past week especially, I've been thinking a lot about support and acknowledgement. This week I have made no dinner, cleaned no corner of my home, picked up not a single thing or tended to anything domestic in any way save kicking my dirty clothes into a corner of my room (oh honey, I'm pretty sure we need TP!!) But E. has been nothing less than sympathetic and devoted even though he works this hard all the time. He has said to me on more occasions than I can count over the years, "I knew you were a writer when I met you" suggesting he knew some of the perils and pitfalls (and as much as I want to shake free from the manacle of considering myself special, we writers and fellow artists are not like everyone. I mean how many sane people do you know who would rather sit at their computer imagining things than go on a tropical vacation?)

It's a good thing my husband knew I was a writer, as he says, though I'm not sure he was always prepared in these 11+ years for some of the insane writing projects I've tackled (National Novel Writing Month 3 times; graduate school and a Master's thesis; innumberable Saturdays devoted to writing about people who don't really exist, spending hours with strangers in order to write 1200 words or fewer about them). So today I want to say how grateful I am for his support. There is no way in God's green earth that I would have done half of it--a third of it--without him. I've thought about how I would thank him in any book I were ever to publish a lot, actually. You'll just have to buy the book to find out :)

Obviously there are so many more people whose support has nurtured, tended and led me to various kinds of fact, there are so many I'm not sure I could ever reasonably thank them all. There are even some people who helped me to get where I am that I am no longer in contact with, even a couple who probably don't like me very much and will never pick up a book I've written...I thank them too, though, in my heart. I am very aware of the help that I have been given and deeply grateful for it.

In that spirit, I thought you might find it fun to see how other authors thank various and assorted people in their books:

From Lottery by Patricia Wood (I read the galley--the book isn't out until August):

"To Paul Theroux and his wife, Sheila Donnelly Theroux, who provided wise words while I tortued them both during their horsebacdk riding lessons. To my good friend Nodie Namba-Hadar. She was the one who told me about the good fortune of dragonflies and allowed one to land on my manuscript..."

I love this line from the acknowledgement in Janet Fitch's novel Paint it Black:

"Most of all, I thank my daughter, Allison, who has had to deal with such an awkward and demanding sibling on a dail basis--thank you for putting up with me."

I especially like acknowledgements that go beyond the people, like Audrey Nifenegger's from The Time Traveler's Wife (also one of my all time favorite books):

"Writing is a private thing. It's boring to watch, and its pleasures tend to be most intense for the person who's actually doing the writing. So with big gratitude and much awe, I would like to thank everyone who helped me to write and publish The Time Traveler's Wife."

I love acknowledgements that give credit or homage to other writers like this from Mary Doria Russell's incredible novel The Sparrow:

"And Molly Ivans Can't Say That, Can She? but D.W. could, so I thank Ms. Ivins for insight into Texans, turtles, and armadillos. Finally, Dorothy Dunnett may consider The Sparrow one long thank you note for her splendid Lymond series."

I'll end with this one, from Les Edgerton's How-To book Hooked, which is just published, edited by none other than my own editor at Writer's Digest Books:

"I've been fortunate to have had a number of books published, and in, each case, have enjoyed the services of a good editor. But my editor on this particular book--Kelly Nickell--has been an editor of rare and uncommon talent. Without a doubt, Kelly has been the toughest editor I've ever had the good fortune to work with, as well as the very best."

To Les's note I had "hear hear!"


At 7:21 PM, Blogger Ellen said...

Aw, Jordan, trust me that you didn't just "vent and whine" (natural pastimes for all of us writers). You inspired me with your talent, drive, work ethic, originality, intelligence, kindness, and generosity. You still do.

At 10:02 AM, Blogger e said...

I got more TP.

At 4:51 AM, Blogger Jeffrey said...

Patricia Wood should correct her acknowledgement, lest she embarass herself: She misspells 'torturing.'

At 8:52 PM, Blogger Patry Francis said...

I'm a big fan of "academy award style" acknowledgments, too. By the time some of us get published, there are just SO many people to thank.

Also love Ellen's new cover!


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