And So it Begins
There are less than two weeks left until the release of my first book, and my life is a blur. I still have a full-time job, but lunch breaks, evenings and weekends are no longer my own. They are spent giving interviews, contacting bookstores, answering emails, designing and ordering promotional materials, making travel arrangements, applying for book festivals, and trying to find an agent and get my next book deal. I’ve sent my author photo to more websites and bookstores than I can recall. My personal email has become as inundated as my work email, and I feel as if computer keyboards are an appendage. I’m starting to understand how people lose track of appointments and messages. I frequently awake panicked in the middle of the night thinking, oh, no. Did I respond to so and so? Did I put that event in my calendar?
I’m dizzy with the anticipation of my dream of being a published writer coming true. When I open that first box of author copies and see a book with my name on the cover, it will be one of the best moments of my life. I look forward to meeting readers (especially the tiny ones). I look forward to discussing the writing process and traveling to promote the book. These will be wonderful experiences, and the thought of them makes me happy. But I also feel stressed and overwhelmed. In addition to the launch of my new book, and a full-time job, I’m also juggling raising two teenagers, and taking care of a home on my own. This is not a terrible life, but it is a lot to handle all at once and by myself.
I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a child, but I pictured the writing life as me holed up in a cabin somewhere, hunched over a typewriter, occasionally leaving the house for a dose of sunshine and to restock the coffee. In my mind, this life was a solitary endeavor, with few people who knew my name and even fewer who knew my face. Perhaps that used to be a writer’s life, but it isn’t anymore. In the modern day of iPhones, Instagram and Twitter, if you want to sell art of any kind you’ve got to have a brand, an online presence, and a social media following. This involves massive amounts of publicity, and as an introvert, it’s exhausting and anxiety producing. I don’t like to be the center of attention, and I have no desire to post pictures and videos of myself online. Things that are published online never go away, so no pressure – but don’t screw up or the whole world will be able to mock you mercilessly until the end of time. I don’t enjoy this aspect of my new life, but I participate in it because it is part of the job, and I am a hard worker. So when I was told that this is what it takes to be a writer, I threw myself into all of it – the social media, the promotion, the publicity, as well as the writing – with everything that I had. I am not comfortable with self-promotion, but it is the price that I am willing to pay to be a writer.
Despite the need for press, there are some blessed days when I get to stay home in my comfy clothes and play with words, trying to express what’s in my heart in a way that other people can understand. While I cherish these private moments, the promotional side of the business isn’t all bad. Being forced out of my comfort zone has been good for me. I am meeting new people and exploring new places; I am conquering my fears and learning so much about the publishing world. It is challenging, but it’s also exhilarating, and I am grateful for this opportunity. I have met some fantastic people that I would never have met if not for this forthcoming book, and now I can’t imagine my life without them. I have also had the pleasure of occasionally hearing from someone that one of my blog posts moved them to tears, encouraged them, or made them feel less alone. Those are the best moments – when I feel as if my words have gone out into the world and had a positive impact. I have benefited from the courage and vulnerability of other writers. Their honest portrayals of their struggles, pain, and imperfections have touched my heart and inspired me to be more transparent in my writing. I don’t want to read about somebody’s polished or flawless life – I find that inauthentic and boring. I want to know about someone’s contradictions, demons, and regrets. I want to know what keeps them up at night and what they hate about themselves. These are things that I can relate to because I have my own. So I try to be the kind of writer whose writing I want to read, and when people tell me that my work has moved them, I know that I have succeeded. That makes all the aspects of this job that I dislike worthwhile.
So dear readers, this is a hectic season of my life, but it is also a great adventure that I am eager to embark upon. I hope that I will get to meet some of you on my journey. I will post my event schedule on my Facebook author page so if you don’t follow that already, please do, and then you’ll know where I will be. If I’m in your area, I hope you’ll come out and say hello. It would be a pleasure to see old friends and meet some new ones. And if you can’t make it, you can follow along virtually, as I will be documenting it on social media, because that’s the job.