Although I’m pretty happy with the way my intro to Love You to Pieces turned out, I wasn’t originally planning on writing the introduction myself. My goal was to find someone noteworthy in the fields of literature and disability to introduce the other works.
The problem was, I didn’t yet have a publisher when I finished gathering the pieces, and I wasn’t sure how much I would be able to afford to pay. Also, I couldn’t guarantee that I would ever find a publisher. Nevertheless, I had a prospective publisher at that point, a small independent press that had published several quirky anthologies (and that ultimately declined my collection), and I felt confident that the book would be published one day.
I wrote to Nick Hornby. He doesn’t write much about being the father of an autistic child, but I thought I’d give it a try. He wrote me a very nice letter saying that he wouldn’t be able to write an intro, but that he wished me all the best with the project. Then, at the suggestion of one of my well-connected contributors, I wrote to Rachel Simon, author of the best-selling Riding the Bus with My Sister, which I’d heard of, but hadn’t yet read. Rachel was busy with the movie version of her book (which featured Andie McDowell, formerly of South Carolina, my adopted home state), but she replied that she might be able to do it after filming was complete. In the meantime, I read her memoir. One of the themes of the book is saying no, and finding time to do what is most important. I then felt rather guilty about trying to get Rachel to say yes to writing the intro when she hardly had time to live her life.
In the end, I bit the bullet and wrote my own intro. I felt underqualified and not famous, but I put my heart into it. It took a while to come up with the courage to write it, and that’s one of the reasons why it took such a long time from the compilation of the manuscript to the signing of publication contract.