Updated: Sep 25, 2019
When I came to Canada as a refugee, I experienced many obstacles. Communication was the most difficult challenge I faced everyday. Once I graduated from high-school, I chose Information Technology as my career path because it didn’t need as much language skills compared to other careers. I’ve spent most of my life dealing with machines than humans –programming required mostly logic and numbers. Slowly, as I was becoming more senior in my career, I gradually developed my communication skills.
Often, I woke up in the middle of the night dreaming about the traumatic events I encountered when I was just a boy. A lot of painful events have been burning inside of me for over 30 years. Some events had such an effect on me that I hadn’t even told my family until I started writing the memoir.
About 20 years ago, I produced my first draft which was about 5 pages. My nightmares didn’t end. I have kept my memories alive by reviewing them mentally, even reliving some of the worst memories in my dreams. My colleagues have often asked me about what I went through in Sri Lanka, and I have shared the story about being chased by a military helicopter.
I wanted to complete my book but work and family life kept me busy despite my continuing nightmares. Change is just another avenue to grow and after I lost my job after 24 years of service. I took this opportunity and decided to write my memoir.
Both of my kids were at university and my wife was working during the day. We sold our home and moved to a condo by the harbourfront area in Toronto. I didn’t look for a new job. Instead, I’ve spent most of my time at the harbourfront area while pounding the keys on my laptop. The hardest part of writing this memoir was re-living those experiences again. On a few occasions, I thought I should leave the past in the past. Thought to not write my memoir and leave it behind locked up.
When I started writing my story, I was very stressed and began to lose my voice. After researching on the internet, I thought that I had Muscle Tension Dysphonia (MTD). My voice continued to get worse. I went to see a doctor and they did the swab test. My son Eric, who was attending medical school came home for a visit during the Christmas holidays in 2017. He checked me out and told me that I may have the worst situation which could be a cancer. Later, my doctor told me that swab results were negative and referred me to see a specialist.
In parallel, I joined a writer’s meetup group in Toronto and discussed my book. One of the organizer’s referred me to an editing and publishing services company to polish my book. The feedback from the editor was very constructive. With his help, I enhanced character development and was able to show the story rather than telling it. The president of the editing firm gave me three options:
2) Hybrid publishing
3) Traditional publishing
He was ready to sign a contract for Hybrid publishing but then asked me to explore the third option. I am very thankful for his honesty.
My appointment with the ENT specialist happened shortly after meeting with the editor. The specialist inserted a camera into my throat and performed various tests. Later, he told me that my left vocal cord was paralyzed due to Thyroid cancer. I started to worry – not fearing for death but doubted my ability to complete my memoir before my death. At this point, I completely lost my voice and struggled but never gave up.
My surgery was set for June 2018. I submitted the manuscript to three publishers. I felt relieved and not worried about my death of cancer, hoping someone will publish my book -eventually!
My surgery went well. The surgeon told me that he couldn’t save my left vocal cord. But hey, I am happy to be alive and I thanked him profusely. A couple of weeks later after my surgery, two of the three publishers requested the full manuscript for review. I immediately sent it and started to check my email every minute – I was bed bound.
August 22, 2018 at 4:09 pm, I received an email from one of the publishers. It was a rejection email. I was devastated and felt like my world has been turned upside down.
The next day, August 23, 2018 at 9:47 am, I received an email from my second publisher. It was the good news! They were interested in my manuscript. It was a rollercoaster of emotions. I was elated!
I went for an interview with the publisher and his team. After a long interview session, the Publication Launch date was set for July 2019 – Summer reading! A contract was signed. We had 10 months to get the book out the door. I’ve met a wonderful team at Dundurn Press. They walked me through the process.
First, we focussed on the cover copy and author bio for the book. This cover copy in particular will be used for sales material, marketing purposes, online, and eventually be placed on the back cover of the book. If you are reading this then the marketing campaign is working!
Then, I had to go a through developmental editing process. We added missing details, turning my drafted manuscript into a final manuscript.
Thirdly, we did the structural editing by reorganizing and clarifying the logical flow of the overall story.
Next, we went through a process of copy editing (line editing) to correct errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation, capitalization and syntax.
After that we reviewed the first proof which involved dealing with missing punctuation dropped words and synonym substitution.
Lastly, we reviewed the second proof which is the final stage before sending the book for the Advanced Copy. Now, I am waiting for the final print. I couldn’t reach this far without the help of the Dundurn Press team. Hope you enjoyed reading my journey of writing!
The easiest part was that I already had a story – my own true story. The difficult part was reliving those unwanted memories.
Finally, I was able to get it out of my system and no longer be a prisoner to those memories. I am excited but perhaps more importantly, relieved, to finally share my life’s story with you.