49 Weeks to Publication
I’m within days of a complete manuscript, and my attention is all on the details. I’m piling up questions for my editor, sifting in the new details from last week’s trip, compiling various permissions, and making final decisions about photos to include. And bonus! I talked to a true Tigerbelles scholar that told me exactly what I needed to hear about this particular phase: you won’t get everything in there and that’s okay.
It feels like I’m packing for a trip, and I think I’m forgetting something. Or, like I’m back in school, turning in a major research paper, then the dreaded wait begins to see how the professor thinks I’ve done.
For Coach Temple, grades for his team were of the utmost importance. Of his lifetime accomplishments, the one of which he was the most proud was that every single one of his Olympians graduated from college. A feat all the more extraordinary because the team started in the 1950s when college was significantly less common that today.
Temple was a firm believer in positive peer pressure before the term was coined. During practice he had regular competitions on the track to keep the athletes from letting up, and to keep his team motivated in their academic performance, he called a team meeting when the grades were released.
The administration gave him the grades first, and he sat in front of his team calling out their names then reading off their grades for each subject, with a steady stream of commentary. A in Sociology, that’s good, C in Calculus, oh, well now, we’re going to need to work on that. If anyone got a C, they’d have to spend extra hours in the library.
I can’t imagine how mortifying it would be to have a poor grade read aloud in front of your closest friends and your fiercest competitors. Coach Temple got help for his team members that were struggling, but almost to a person, they admitted that just knowing their grades were going to be fodder for gossip gave them an extra push.
With this manuscript’s eventual public presentation, the living Tigerbelles can ultimately be the judge.
As I wrestle over photos, quotes, and stories to include, the hardest part is that age-old editor’s trick, to kill my darlings. Only this time, it’s not my darlings, as it would be with fiction, for instance. It is the treasured memories and little known details from a group of people I so admire. I pour through the sections looking for that perfect spot for a one-off statement from an interview that was so good, I just can’t bear to leave it out.
The Temple family, and the Tigerbelles, love to laugh, and have honed their stories over the years to pull out the best, brightest, and the funniest examples of what they went through. They want you to know that it wasn’t just grit and drive that got them to the finish line. It was their full embrace of their experiences and the fun they had along the way.
Until next week!