Q & A with Lee Wilde

Why did you decide to write your book?

I suppose my journey of writing my book through to publishing my book is perhaps a little different to most.

In the late nineties, my passion for writing and my desire to make some sort of contribution to the local lesbian community, led me to become involved in the production of a non-profit, bi-monthly magazine for gay women. I wrote one story, The ‘R’ Thing, about the very start of my “R”elationship. From there, I continued to write a new story for each issue over a five-year period from 1996–2001. The end result was a collection of 26 stories each starting with a different letter of the alphabet.

I was so proud of the stories I had written and had always received very positive feedback from readers of the magazine. My dream was always to have the stories published as a book. I wanted something that could be shared with the broader community, with people from all walks of life. And, I wanted something tangible that I could hold in my hand and feel very proud of and something that I could share with family and friends.

It wasn’t until earlier this year that I seriously looked into making that happen. I guess this was brought about by changes in my life and a need for me to focus on an achievable goal. Once I started researching how to get my stories published it became clear that this was indeed an achievable goal. So, I revisited the stories and tidied them up a little, wrote an introduction and a conclusion and worked with Palmer Higgs until we had a completed product.

The publishing of this book is my greatest personal achievement.

Who/what inspired you to write?

For as long as I can remember I have always loved to write.

In my teenage years I wrote over 200 poems, mostly of the soppy, lovesick and not very good type. At school I loved to write essays. I remember that my essays were always particularly long. My teachers would tell me to keep in mind that I only needed to write a few hundred words and not a few thousand!

So, I suppose my inspiration has always just been my love of writing. Then, my involvement with the magazine allowed me to make my writing public; I had a reason to write and a medium for it. And now, being retired from the paid workforce, I am fortunate to have the time to write. I am also fortunate to have the time to read all the books that I have been collecting over the years to read “one day”!

What was the most rewarding part of the writing process?

Gosh, I guess because these stories all relate to my relationship, the most rewarding part of the process was seeing my partner’s reaction when she read each story.

And, now that the book is out there, it is extremely rewarding to hear from people who have read the book. I have been overwhelmed by the response from people about how much they enjoyed the book and how it made them laugh and made them cry.

It is nice to have done something that people can relate to, something that can touch people’s hearts and emotions.

What are your top tips for writing a book?

Be committed. Stay true to yourself and write what you want to write. Don’t be afraid to show people who you are. Take your time and don’t be in a hurry to get to the end. Enjoy the journey of writing. Believe in yourself and make it happen!

Which books/authors have inspired you?

I particularly enjoy autobiographies and am inspired each time I read one. I guess because of the honesty, the bravery and the realness that I find in them. So, whilst I don’t know that any one book or any one author has inspired me, it has been more the case that I am inspired by particular stories or quotes within books that I have read.

For example, in 1993, I read the book Love Match – Nelson vs. Navratilova. The book, written by Sandra Faulkner with Judy Nelson, tells the story of the relationship between tennis great Martina Navratilova and Judy Nelson.

I was inspired by Judy’s words about being yourself. She talks about how “there is nothing better in the world than being yourself”. She goes on to say, “be true to yourself, take care of yourself, and that is the very best person that you can give to the world”. Throughout the past 20 years I have always remembered those words and they have inspired me to always do my best to be myself, no matter who that person is.

The other book that has had a profound affect on my life is The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams. It was first published in 1922. Again, I read this book many, many years ago and many times since. The book tells the tale of the Velveteen Rabbit and the Skin Horse. The Velveteen Rabbit one day asks the Skin Horse about being real. The Skin Horse explains to the Velveteen Rabbit that “it takes a long time to become real but once you are real it lasts for always and you can’t become unreal again”. I like to think that there is a point in all of our lives where we do become real, we become the person that we are and not the person that perhaps other people would like us to be.

Why did you decide to self-publish?

There were two reasons why I decided to self-publish. The first was that I knew that publishing this book was something I wanted to make happen. I did not want to go through the long and probably disappointing process of approaching publishing companies.

My second reason was that I wanted the book to be my work. I did not want a publishing company to demand changes and re-writes and deletions. It was my work and it was important to me that it remained as written.

I really wanted to publish with an Australian-based company, as I wanted to be able to contact them easily, by phone. Being my first venture, I felt that I would be rather high maintenance. The Palmer Higgs packages were reasonably priced and more personalised than others that I considered. It was after taking up the offer of a free 30-minute phone consultation with Paul that I was convinced that Palmer Higgs was the best fit for me. I have been 100% happy with Palmer Higgs and communication has been great, nothing has been too much trouble for them. Thank you Joy!

What do you hope your readers get out of your book?

A Comical Journey of Love is a book for everyone. I wrote in the book, that, essentially, it is a book about a relationship. It does not matter what your sexuality is, we all have the same dreams, the same hopes, do the same dopey things in our relationship regardless of our sexuality. We all love with the same intensity, we have the same feelings and we experience the same emotions.

My hope now is that this book may in some way find its way into the hands of someone who is perhaps struggling with their sexuality and who needs to see herself or himself as “normal”. And, I want people to see that our relationship is as important, as real, as precious and as meaningful as any heterosexual relationship. We can achieve longevity in our relationships just as heterosexuals can. Our love is the same.

I recently had my regular six-monthly appointment with a medical specialist. I have been seeing her for a number of years now. I decided that I would like her to have a copy of my book. I didn’t know why I wanted to give her a copy. I just knew that that I needed to. When I gave it to her, she opened it and read the “Dedication” where, referring to my partner, Alison, and myself, I wrote; “We have never seen ourselves as anything other than ‘normal’”. And then, her eyes filled with tears. She went on to tell me that she has a cousin who is gay and how her cousin’s mother has no acceptance and gives no recognition of her daughter’s long term same sex relationship. She said that it is just so sad that gay people have to even consider or question that they are “normal”. I am certain that I was meant to give her my book, I truly feel that it will, in some small way, make a difference.

On a lighter note, I want readers to see the importance of being able to laugh at themselves when things don’t go quite right. And finally, I hope that the stories in the book will give people some smiles and even a few belly laughs!

Would you consider writing another book?

Yes, absolutely, because of the feedback that I have already received about this book. I would love to write another book along the same lines as this one, a collection of new stories about my relationship.

Also, I want to write a memoir and I have a title for it already, My Gay Life – the ups and downs, twists and turns of my journey on a road less travelled. I guess the title speaks for itself. I want to share my journey so that it may make someone else’s journey along the road less travelled a little easier.

Do you have any other tips for new authors (ie. book launch, research, marketing etc.)

When looking to publish, do your research. Make sure you understand about things like copyright, ISBNs and barcodes, your Moral Rights as an author, legal deposit of your book with the appropriate libraries, tax obligations – whether you need an ABN and whether you are writing and publishing as a hobby or as an enterprise.

When I first started looking at publishing my book I had very little understanding of any of those things. It has been a huge learning curve. But, the hours and hours that I put into researching made it easier for me when it came to deciding on a publishing package. It gave me an understanding of what companies were offering in their packages and so I was able to make a well-informed decision.

It is okay to ask as many questions as you need to. This is a big investment and you need to be confident about your decisions. If the company that you are looking at won’t spend the time to help you understand all aspects of the package then I would forget them and try someone else. Before I made my final decision to go with Palmer Higgs, and I think Paul will attest to the fact, I probably asked about 100 questions and sent him a dozen emails before I was satisfied that I totally understood everything, see, very high maintenance!

If you want to put the time into promoting your book then I would recommend creating a Facebook Page. Also, the package I got from Palmer Higgs included postcards and bookmarks. The postcards are great for mailing to friends or organisations that might be interested in your book. The bookmarks are also great to carry in your bag and give to people that you might meet at social functions. Both items are also good for leaving on tables at restaurants or coffee shops that you go to or on the seat of your plane just before you disembark, you never know who’s hands they might just fall into! The postcards are great for sending to “famous people”. Just send one to, for example, Ellen DeGeneres c/- Warner Bros, Los Angeles. Imagine how many people will touch that postcard before it actually gets to Ellen!