What’s It About?

Thanks for asking.

Lyrical and informative, An Adoptee Lexicon is a glossary of adoption terminology from the viewpoint of an adult adoptee.

Contemplating religion, politics, science, and human rights, Karen Pickell, who was born and adopted in the late 1960s, intersperses personal commentary and snippets from her own experience with history and statistics pertaining to child development and the adoption industry. The collection of micro essays is presented as an organically ordered glossary, along with a robust list of sources and suggested reading as well as an alphabetical index, creating layers of association between words commonly used when discussing adoption.

Pickell draws connections between contemporary American political issues and the social climate that led to a tsunami of adoptions in the decades following World War II through the early 1970s—a period known as the Baby Scoop Era—and also touches on the complexity of transracial and international adoptions.

Throughout An Adoptee Lexicon, the focus remains firmly on adopted people—their perceptions, their needs, and their right to fully exist in exactly the way non-adopted people do.

If you’ve been following me here, you’ll recall, too, that I’m publishing this book as the first project of my new micro press in order to test out the process. I’m looking forward to the conversations this book will begin and also to helping others’ words be heard in the very near future.

An Adoptee Lexicon will be published later this summer. Be sure to follow Raised Voice Press.

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New Year, New Venture

It’s February. How did that happen? For weeks, I’ve been meaning to share some thoughts here about the new year, writing goals, personal goals, etc., but I haven’t been able to find time. I’ve been busy making plans and preparations for a new venture I’d like to share today.

I am launching my own independent, for-profit, micro-press called Raised Voice Press that will exclusively publish creative nonfiction books by authors who have found it difficult to be heard.

Yes, I’ve been very busy. Starting a business is a big deal. It’s taken a lot of contemplation and soul-searching and planning for me to get to this moment. I assessed my skills and my interests, my weaknesses and my aversions. I wrote an honest-to-god business plan, complete with a three-year cash flow estimate, to prove to myself that this idea I have is viable. Writer friends, I know you can imagine how grueling that was. I figured, if I still want to do it after going through that, I must be ready.

You see, last year I came to the conclusion that, for the sake of both my family’s and my own well-being, I needed to either get a job or start a business. Owning my own business has been on my mind since I was in my twenties. I’ve worked in a corporate environment, and I hated it. I don’t have a strong desire to teach. I scrolled through job ads for over a year, feeling ill at the thought of applying for any of them. Having been a stay-at-home mom for sixteen years, I’m used to being in control of my own time. I’m not willing to give that up unless forced.

For a number of reasons, I need to work at something other than writing. Not that I’m giving up writing. Over this past year, I’ve come to terms with the reality of the writing life, how long it takes to develop as a writer, how much I still need to learn and practice, which requires time and patience. I realized that writing being my only thing led to my putting undo pressure on myself to achieve in ways that are detrimental to the kind of work I’d ultimately like to be able to create.

And the fact of the matter is, I’m no longer a young person. I don’t want to squander any of my time.

So I’m giving myself a job that suits my passions and abilities. Being that I’m a writer who would like to have my own work valued, I take the responsibility for other’s words seriously. This is one of the reasons I decided my press would be for-profit. I want to be able to help other writers get their books in the hands of readers and be paid for their work.

I decided to focus on creative nonfiction because, though there is valuable work being done in every genre of literature, there are far fewer publishers who specialize in literary nonfiction books than either fiction or poetry. And, most of all, because I love creative nonfiction. It’s the genre I both read and write most often. It’s the genre that feels most comfortable to me and the genre in which I’m most interested in developing an expertise.

I’ve noticed, too, that there’s a lack of local literary activties for lovers of creative nonfiction outside of Pittsburgh and Minneapolis. (Shout out to cold places where I never thought I’d wish I lived!) I can find plenty of events around my home for poetry and fiction–and the occasional narrative nonfiction story, so long as it sounds an awful lot like fiction, or lyric essay, so long as we call it a prose poem–but I’ve been able find exactly zero events dedicated to nonfiction. I hope for Raised Voice Press to be able begin hosting CNF events once we get our feet on the ground.

When I say “we,” understand that the press is about 99% me, with support from my husband John on the business end. He’s my cheerleader, and that itself is more valuable than I can express, but he also has decades of experience in keeping businesses solvent. I’m fortunate to be able to rely on a little of his free labor to get this business up and running. I don’t want to rely on the free labor of others, however, so the press will utilize freelance assistance as needed until we’re able to afford hiring any permanent staff.

I’ve made a commitment not only to this new venture, but also to a new way of living my life. I’m determined to maintain high standards, yes, but also to let go of the need for perfection and embrace the idea of being good enough. As I begin, I am not an expert on publishing per se, but I am commited to doing the best job I can do and enjoying the time I’ll need to spend learning new skills.

In order to get the press off the ground, I will be publishing a book of my own. I did not ever envision publishing my own book, however I also don’t think it’s fair to work out the kinks in our publishing process on someone else’s book. I would rather be my own guinea pig. The book’s not ready yet for its big reveal, but I will say it’s not a memoir and it is about adoption. Watch this space.

I hope you’ll take a minute to look at the website and see what Raised Voice Press is all about. And if you’re so inclined, please follow on Facebook and/or Twitter.

If you have a manuscript you’re ready to publish, I’d love to hear about it. You can find our submission guidelines here.

 

Small but Mighty Fine

I’m a bit late in sharing this here due to Hurricane Irma, but I’m still smiling about having a short essay of mine called “Does It Matter If I Never Publish My Memoir?” published on the Brevity blog. Thank you, Allison Williams!

For those unfamiliar, Brevity is an online journal featuring flash creative nonfiction. Check out their recently published 20th anniversary issue.

 

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I’m participating in Vanessa Mártir’s #52essays2017 challenge. This is #15 of 52.

One Foot in Front of the Other

2015-05-10 20.00.11I am thrilled now to be able to say my memoir is done! Well, not done as in published, or even ready to be published, but drafted. Not the final draft, mind you, only the first draft. Still, this is a major accomplishment on a project that’s been eating at me for too many years. I feel relieved. I feel free to write about all those other things that have been swirling around in my mind.

And now I understand the disorientation other writers have described after completing manuscripts. For much of the past year, I went to my desk each morning knowing what I was going to work on. I longed for the day when I’d be able to work on something–anything!–other than the damn memoir. But it’s not that easy, is it? I come to my desk these days and fiddle with pens and paper, and read too many stories on the Internet, and try to decide where to begin. What topic should I write on? What is my angle? What form should the writing take? Where should I begin? With freedom comes too many choices.

So today I’m here, writing this post–a little thing, but better than just spinning and not writing anything at all. Continue reading “One Foot in Front of the Other”

A Conference, a Website, and a Book

20150311_125506Whew, it’s been a long time since I posted here about what’s going on with me. Here it is March and I’m just finally feeling recovered from the holidays. I always think I’m not making enough progress in this endeavor of writing and advocacy–until I put down what I’ve been up to.

The next big thing coming up on my schedule is the American Adoption Congress Conference, where I’ll be moderating a panel discussion with my adoptee sisters from Lost Daughters on March 28. Ten of us will talk about diverse narratives within the collective adoptee voice. Early-bird registration rates have been extended, so there’s still time to make your plans to meet us in Boston. We’ll also have copies of our anthology on hand and our signing pens ready!

At the end of January, I launched a new website I’ve been working on for some time, called Adoptee Reading Resource. My goal with the site is twofold: to catalog every book written by an adoptee that I can identify and to also list adoption books authored by non-adoptees that adoptees recommend. In other words, it’s an adoptee-centric book site, to enable adoptees–and everyone else–to discover adoptee-centric books. (Yes, I can work in the word “adoptee” a few more times if you’d like.) Now that it’s live, I’m excited to see how it grows.

Continue reading “A Conference, a Website, and a Book”