The Happiest of Birthdays
I have no idea what it is like to give birth after waiting up to 40 weeks for the human growing inside to make his or her appearance. What I do know is how it feels to nurture and grow something for 22 months, then finally have the opportunity to hold it in my hands, my baby born of ink and words and paper. That is what happened this past Friday, the 13th (always a lucky day for me), when the proofs of my upcoming memoir, Strong Roots, Wayward Soul, were delivered.
This time next week, I will be pushing the "publish" button on a project two years in the making. My wonder is not in the timeline -- a publishing industry connection I have made along the way urged me, under no circumstances, to rush things -- but in the fact that I have reached the finish line. I talk about this in the book introduction as well, but tenacity was never my strong suit. A self-proclaimed "self saboteur", I would start countless diets, hobbies, workout programs, only to quit as soon as I didn't get the results I was seeking. Even through a ten-month hiatus of writer's block during which I processed many of the dark memories the story dredged up, I never quit.
People have asked many questions along the way: how did I choose my publishing path, how did I stay the course, how did I even get started? A departure from my typical blog format, I wanted to share a few lessons I learned along the way.
Never be afraid to try something new. This is advice I've been spouting since I launched The Brave Kind last year and added the pillar of "courage" to my message. New tasks, no matter how big or small, help garner self-respect. I had no idea how to get started, so I hired my friend Sondra to coach me through her "Change Your Story" program and finished our time together with the belief I could become an author. I had no idea how to get published once I finished the book. I watched KN Literary Arts videos, I joined several writing communities, and I immersed myself in writing articles and advice (Reedsy is a great resource!). If I wanted my name in lights, it could take months or even years to shop my manuscript around to literary agents, who then have to shop it to publishing houses. There are a multitude of ways to self-publish on a shorter time-frame, which is why I chose to go that route...this time.
Invest in yourself, you are worth it. I sat on this book idea for over three years. I purchased an online writing course and never took a single class. knew I needed a real, live accountability partner to get me going, and Sondra's help fit the bill. Once I was far enough along to have something worth sharing, I hired a freelance developmental editor. I got her name from a fellow writer I met in Jennifer Pastiloff's workshop (hint: it pays to keep in touch with amazing people). I went on Reedsy and invested in both a copy editor and a cover artist. All told, I have invested approximately $2500 in this project. Small potatoes compared to the thousands of copies this bookstore-worthy finished product will sell.
Believe in yourself. Perhaps before you can even invest in yourself, you must believe in yourself: that your story is worth sharing, that someone will be entertained, informed, or inspired by it, and that you, too, have the tenacity to see it through, even on days when nary a word gets written. I had to overcome impostor syndrome a hundred times. I stopped reading another memoir because her descriptions were so eloquent, while all I was hearing from my developmental editor was "show, don't tell" (which I finally understand!). I have no formal writing education. I didn't earn an MFA like many young writers today. And speaking of "young", I feel like somewhat of a late bloomer. I firmly believe, however, that just because my gift sat dormant for decades doesn't mean it had an expiration date. God tapped me in early sobriety and reminded me "you were made for more than this."
My memoir will be available for purchase next Monday, August 23rd, on the back side of the full Sturgeon moon and two months ahead of schedule. I thought I had to create a pre-order period, but I have learned I do not. Rather than give myself weeks to sit in perfectionist tendencies, I will be sharing it to the world. I also thought I wanted to launch it on the birth date of one of the two grandmothers I write about in the book (9/25 or 10/23), but I truly believe they will be even more proud that I am standing on my own two feet.
“Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” ~Thomas A. Edison