Announcing: Poesy, a nosegay of prose

In creating, the only hard thing is to begin; a grass-blade's no easier to make than an oak. ~ James Russel Lowell

Oh my goodness.

I am so excited about what I have to share today that I hardly know where to begin. This news has been over five years in the making. And now that it’s finally time to let it out into the world, I’m tripping over my own enthusiasm.

It all began in the summer of 2008. I’d hit a terrible slump with my writing and would sit at my computer for hours at a time, typing insipid sentences and immediately erasing them. I felt like I had lost my identity as a writer. Worse than that—I felt like I had never been a writer in the first place. Who was I kidding? Who did I think I was? And who on earth would ever want to read the kind of books I wanted to write, anyway?

It went on and on, for weeks. I remember one sweltering afternoon in particular, demoralized by the heat without and the wordlessness within, wherein I threw myself on the sofa in a full pout of despair. “I must’ve missed it,” I half-prayed. “For some reason I thought I was a writer. But I’m not. I don’t have Story running through my veins. Or if I ever did, I’ve lost it.”

I had an appointment that day, so I heaved myself up off of the couch and went downstairs in a black cloud of melancholy. It felt like a death, and my heart was cold with the sorrow of it as I stood before the mirror brushing my hair. Not a writer after all, the words scorched my weary mind. And then, something magical happened. Even as I stared into those despondent eyes before me, a running commentary wakened in my head. It was a voice describing how I was feeling: the awful deadness of my discouragement, the misery of my misunderstanding—in vivid words and in third person.

I threw down my brush and took the stairs two at a time, flinging open my laptop before I’d even pulled out my desk chair. I spilled the description onto the screen, writing as fast as my abysmal typing skills would permit. And as the words grew under my flying fingers, a character emerged. (I was late to that appointment, by the way.) By the end of the next week, I had a story. Another followed, and another. I greeted the process with curiosity, seeing these people suddenly in my head and then following them around over a dozen or so pages just to find out what would happen to them.

The whole thing was so fun it just couldn’t be real writing. Where was the agony, the hair-pulling, the angst? (These jolly friends save their presence for the editing process, as I later learned all too well.) But I couldn’t help myself. I just kept pursuing these little whiffs and signposts of Story—some buoyancy within seemed to carry me along—and, before I knew it, I had the makings of a book. The vision grew with the collection, and when I reached ten stories I knew, instinctively, that I was done.

I wrote this little book purely for joy, out of the most idealistic sensibilities of my heart. There were times I would actually have to get up from my desk and walk off the trembly feelings of happiness that made my hands shake and my heart skip a beat as I wrote. It’s not best-seller material. It’s not “marketable” or “mainstream.” It has no message, save that Love Exists and Beauty Matters, and it has no agenda. If anything, it’s unapologetically old-fashioned, very much in the style of my literary heroine, Lucy Maud Montgomery. It was the book I wanted to write five years ago, and once I got out of the way of myself and quit trying to write what I felt was expected of me, out it came.

I knew that a book as gently outdated as mine would require special treatment, and as my imagination had already quite run away with me, I gave in and gave it its head. It was out of this untrammeled flight of fancy that the dream of Low Door Press emerged: whole runs of books made entirely by hand. I longed to create something that was simply as beautiful as I could make it, start to finish, and, somehow, this book I had secretly (and accidentally) written seemed the perfect candidate. Kilmeny of the Orchard was the first grand experiment (I’m still dazed and delighted at the way she was welcomed by all of you!), and all the while I’ve been working away behind the scenes to bring my own book into the world in accordance with the dreams I first dreamed for her.

Let the beauty we love be what we do; there are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground. ~Rumi

All these years I’ve been editing compulsively, revising, rewriting, undoing and redoing. Kind friends have looked her over and given me feedback, and a year ago I hired a keen-eyed and kindred-spirited editor to give my girl a final spit and polish. I finished the typesetting last summer during my online sabbatical and two weeks ago, after one final (agonizing!) export to .pdf, I took my little book to the printers. I was so excited (and a little flustered) that I left the house without any lipstick, and by the time I walked out of the shop with a proof in my hand and an order irrevocably underway, I felt rather dizzy. To be honest, I was totally unprepared for the shining excitement that snatched me up and has held me ever since. My book—my very first book—was being printed! After all the agonizing and obsessing, the scrutinizing of fonts and the millions of exports, after learning to use Illustrator (and learning to use InDesign all over again as I’d forgotten everything I knew)—this dream was becoming a reality!

Now that my book is in my hands and the binding is underway, I wanted to include all of you, dear readers, in the final stages of this project. Besides, I just couldn’t keep the secret to myself any longer! I though it would be fun to keep you posed periodically, in words and images, on the status of this second title in the Low Door Press library. I’m not ready to announce a release date as of yet (there are too many imponderables attendant upon the hand-binding process), but my hope is to have the first run ready by mid-autumn.

And so, without further ado, it is my great pleasure to announce:

Poesy is a collection of love stories, some contemporary, some slightly historical, all with an old-fashioned sensibility. It is a Valentine, of sorts, a personal declaration of sentiment and a bouquet of gentle thoughts.

I am employing a somewhat different method of bookbinding on this particular project: whereas Kilmeny was essentially case bound (the text block created separately and the cases inked and debossed on an antique engraver’s press before assembly), Poesy will be created in the even older style of hollow-backed binding. This will allow for slightly more flexibility in the spine and a chance to try my hand at individually gilt-stamping the titles as the final step in the process. My amazing sister has once again leant her talents to this project and created four stunningly beautiful original illustrations, in addition to the full-color cover art. She has taken the pictures I had in my head when I was writing and made them a reality to grace the pages of my book. I’m absolutely stunned over how lovely they are. Such a perfect complement to the pale green book cloth I’ve decided upon.

So that is my surprise, gentle readers. I would be so honored if you would accompany me on the final stages of this journey. I promise to keep you updated on Poesy’s debut.

52 Responses to “Announcing: Poesy, a nosegay of prose”

  1. BONNIE BUCKINGHAM says:

    Please do release soon! It looks so lovely.
    I can’t wait!
    So excited for you and have been waiting.

  2. Merryrose says:

    This is such gloriously wondrous news and I am so so so happy and thrilled.. I can’t wait to read it and hold all its beauty in my hands. :-)

  3. Kim Gilstrap says:

    Bravo on fulfilling your dream.
    It’s really quite splendid. I love your
    dedication.
    I’ll be waiting
    with baited breath for Poesy’s release!

  4. Josh says:

    Brilliant news! Yet another reason to look forward to Autumn!

  5. Wendy says:

    ahhhh yes! ‘Love Exists and Beauty Matters’ ~ oh Lanier, I’m SO excited I can hardly stand it! Hurrah for Poesy! and biggest of hugs for the excitement to come! xxooxx

  6. Shannon Boyd says:

    Lanier, my heart jumps for joy with you, that you threw dirt in thee liar’s face and wrote, because you are a writer! So beautiful, all of it.

  7. JOY says:

    Excellent. Something to really be proud of. kind of like giving birth, huh? God bless and keep up the great work.

  8. Kim F says:

    So longing to hold one of these in my hands. Beautiful.

  9. Brenda Branson says:

    So looking forward to holding this beautiful book in my hands!

  10. JJ says:

    Frabjous day! What glorious news! So pleased for you, and proud of you dear friend. This warrants multiple exclamation points!!! Put my name on the waiting list ;)

  11. Will be saving up for that one!

  12. Jessica T. says:

    SO excited about this announcement, my friend…and I love the story of her beginnings. I can’t WAIT to read it and see all of your lovely work!

  13. Jeannie says:

    Oh Lanier, how thrilling. I can’t wait to see the finished product, but I hope we get glimpses of the process as well!

  14. Everly says:

    Not sure what would make me any happier. Yay for Lanier! Yay for all her readers!

  15. Debbie says:

    Such welcome news! I can’t wait to add your latest volume to my burgeoning collection. My daughters and I look forward to reading and discussing your beautiful prose and poesy in our book club. EnJOY the process of birthing this dream.

  16. Teresa says:

    How wonderful to see a dream come true.
    I am so happy for you, Lanier.
    And old-fashioned? That’s all I needed to hear.

  17. Esther says:

    Are you taking pre-orders?

  18. Loren Warnemuende says:

    Lanier, this is so exciting! I love this whole thing–the stories, how they happened, and the fascinating printing process. It really looks like many of the old books I have on my shelves. I can’t wait to read it.

  19. Dianne L says:

    So wonderful to hear of this dream coming true for you! I hope you plan to make a lot of copies!

  20. Jen Rose says:

    This is wonderful news Lanier! And it fills me with hope that I might find a little book hiding out inside me someday too. Can’t wait to see this beautiful creation. :) Congratulations!

  21. Suzanne says:

    What a joy to have you back! I can hardly wait to hold your book. Thank you.

  22. Laura P says:

    Rejoicing over this! So happy for you, and can’t wait to see what you are making. Way to go, dear girl!

  23. Jeanne-Marie says:

    How lovely and exciting! Hoping it will be available soon.

  24. Angela says:

    I AM SO EXCITED FOR YOU! What a joy! I’m also rather selfishly excited, for I can’t wait to read it!

    I can’t tall you how many times, when I’m reading your posts, that I absolutely must stop to think about some little line or turn of phrase – they are not only beautiful, they are often so wise. I love how you said, “It was the book I wanted to write five years ago, and once I got out of the way of myself and quit trying to write what I felt was expected of me, out it came.” May we all find the same courage.

    Blessings!

  25. Kristen says:

    I’m so happy — this is wonderful news!

    I’m looking forward to getting glimpses of the bookbinding process. I took a very basic class a couple years ago that gave me a new appreciation for books, especially handmade ones. These will be absolutely beautiful! And I can hardly wait to read it, but I know it will be worth wait. Congratulations!

  26. Lara says:

    What a thrill! Oh my dear–I am so delighted for you! And you will share with us? Even better! :) I will be eagerly awaiting more news! Many hugs to you! Sharing your joy….

  27. Diane Robertson says:

    Lanier: So happy for you and delighted how the Lord has been with you in this creative process! How blessed you must feel to know that He really has given you the desires of your heart! I will follow the journey with you, eager to see and hold this little book that you have and are creating! May continued blessings be yours!

  28. Lanier! So excited for you. And for us too. You write so beautifully! Praying God’s blessing on this project …

  29. Sheena says:

    Oh, Lanier, I’m so excited and happy for you and for the publishing industry! Please tell me that this book will be available in Australia! I can’t wait to hold it. Make sure the print run is big enough to accommodate all of us who want to give copies to our friends as well as keep a copy to pore over ourselves.

  30. Lori says:

    I can hardly wait to read it!

  31. Rachel says:

    So Excited! What a peaceful/joyful break to read about in my afternoon. And look at all the comments! People just know a good thing. Smiling big and looking forward to the updates!

  32. Oh Lanier, I am almost *crying* I am so happy for you–and for me. A whole book of your stories! What a joy! I can hardly wait. Blessings on you as you bind these books and make them as beautiful as possible. Sometime, when you have a minute (ha, right?), I’d love to know what all those bookbinding terms mean :)

  33. [...] « Announcing: Poesy, a nosegay of prose [...]

  34. Holly says:

    I loved Teresa’s comment – “And old-fashioned? That’s all I needed to hear.” Me, too! So happy for one of the coolest people I “know”. Way to go, Lanier! Way to follow your dreams and especially, for persevering!

  35. Lisa says:

    Thrilled for you and excited for us!! I want one, for sure!!! Congratulations, well done!!

  36. Heather says:

    Looking forward to having a piece of your writings on my very own shelf. I too would love to know more about the world of bookbinding. Congratulations, Lanier and well done!

  37. Martina says:

    This is long overdue, isn’t it? You are such a gifted writer – don’t hide anymore!
    It’s such a special pleasure to read your blog, but how sweeter it will be to see your words on real paper. I’m looking forward to it!
    And, please – do take preorders! Hire dozens of people to help with the printing and binding!!

  38. Martina says:

    Oh, and while I’m at it giving unasked advice – please forgive! – here is an idea for your second book: I am sure I wouldn’t be the only one who would be delighted to see the articles you filed here under “Essays” on real paper. Or all your christmas musings.
    You know, sometimes artists are so busy with creating, they need a “normal”, outside person to tell them how to go on practically… Again: forgive me! (But go ahead, please!!)

  39. Linda says:

    I just had to go back and read your “Inspirations and Ambitions” as i rejoice with how God is unfolding His plan for you. Thank you for sharing your Joy with us…i hope you know that it matters to your many “kindred spirits”. I hope i am not too late to be put on your pre-order list. We were out of town and i know your list might already be more than you can handle in your first printing.
    Rejoicing with you in great anticipation !
    linda k.
    i have this in my journal with great gratitude:
    “What is your greatest dream?
    To write something that would show someone else that God is as good as they have always secretly dreamed He would be. And more.
    To create a world through story that would be a place in which other souls might encounter something of who God is—something they might not have otherwise encountered.
    To awaken hearts with beauty. To carry cups of cold water to a parched, heartbroken, homesick world.
    I want to write stories that tell the truth and that are laced and haunted with the beauty of Eden.
    I want to do what my most beloved authors have done for me: not only point the way home, but throw light on the loveliness of the journey. I want people to read my stories and know that they are not alone.
    Jesu, juva. ”
    Isaiah 64:5

    • Lanier Ivester says:

      Linda, you are so kind. I’m not actually taking pre-orders at this point, so you haven’t missed anything. :) If I decide to I will definitely give plenty of advance notice.
      Thanks for your encouraging words.

  40. Kiersti says:

    Oh, Lanier–congratulations! What very exciting news. Your book sounds truly beautiful, as I know it will be, like all your writing–the Lord truly pours His love and beauty through you. I look forward to hearing more updates! :) Blessings to you and your stories.

  41. mary kathryn says:

    Congratulations on what is surely a birth of new life! I know that feeling of giddiness and joy when you’ve written — created! — a new world populated with your people and their lives. So fun! Blessings on this endeavor, and may the stories continue to well up within you and come into the world.

  42. This is so exciting! I can’t wait to hold it in my hands and drink it in!

  43. tonia says:

    I am so glad for your artist-soul and the way you have leaned out into the world and let your beauty fly. Thank you for giving and working and mostly, for sharing. xoxox

  44. catherine illian says:

    I am so excited!
    wanting to make sure I can buy a copy– hoping there will be enough for all who want one–
    it looks amazing–
    love that Liz is illustrating it!

  45. Josie Ray says:

    What beautiful title page and dedication. And “nosegay”…forgive me…is so you! Your title page with it’s description breathes the mood of your writing here at Lanier’s Books. This is and will be a treasure.

    I love that you bind your own books. William Morris would love you! :-) And probably does.

  46. [...] one academic and one literary (I’ll let you know what comes of either…). In the bookshop, Poesy is coming along. It’s been such an amazing thing to see my own words forming into a book beneath [...]

  47. [...] but that’s a whole ‘nother story.) My novel is still in draft stage, but my little Poesy is getting ready to make her appearance n the world. And while the most generous assessment would not stretch to call me fluent, twice this [...]

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