A letter to future authors.
My book, Release the Beast, has been published.
For the longest time, I thought that might never happen. That I just wasn’t good enough. Something about me and my dream couldn’t get it together, and that dissonance was a source of heartbreak. The world doesn’t think I should do the thing I feel I was born to do.
As someone who suffers from NEW PROJECT! syndrome, I’ve given up many things over the years. But storytelling was always that must do thing. Even as a youngster I’d whisper stories to pets and scribble down fairytales in indecipherable characters before I knew how to write. Stories were my reference point for that sense of freedom and wonder and endless summer days that other people talk about when they talk of childhood. Stories, to me, were childhood. So it was very natural that I should want to be a writer.
The path to publication was long. I wrote, I finessed, I strived and despaired. I shelved fifty or so dreams on the Bookshelf of Abandoned Stories. Some of those manuscripts were dismal: ambitious, overworked and in the earlier days, surrealist (ARGH!). The rejections rolled in, but I’d pick myself up and think, the next one will be better. In truth, the rejections started to improve as I developed my style. The replies were more positive, personal and encouraging (and THANK YOU to those who took the time to write them). But in the end, they were still rejections.
I decided I needed a new attitude to fortify my writing journey. After a long time of wanting to be a writer, I shifted my focus to love writing for writing alone. Publishing seemed unattainable, and less important. But in my secret heart, I still dreamed of the day I would hold my very own book in my hands, the book that I wrote. Because all writers yearn to say something, write something, that wakes others up in some way. You need a reader for that.
A little while ago I sent my latest children’s book to Beatnik Press, after reading an interview with the director who seemed like a real person. They picked the book up almost immediately. The proofs started arriving in my inbox, and the illustrator was a perfect match. My first real book started to come to life.
The boxes of my book (MY BOOK!) were delivered to my house, and they were like pirate chests of treasure. A lifetime of dreams and hopes, trussed up in cardboard and packing tape. I delayed the delicious moment a few days, waiting for the right time, savouring the promise within. And when I couldn’t wait another second I tore open the boxes with the hunger of a wolf. The moment I’d dreamed of, the holding your book in your hands moment, had come.
It was a bit of a flop moment. I didn’t think I’ve made it! or I’m a real life big-person author! Holding the book in my hands couldn’t live up to a lifetime of anticipation, which I should’ve known. But that little child in me wanted the squee! feeling.
The feeling I’d been looking for–the I made this and it means something moment–happened a few days later, at my first reading. And it DID live up to a lifetime of anticipation. When despite my foibles and stumbles and nerves, the kids LOVED it. I mean they engaged and ROARED in all the right places and fought each other to read it again after. That was gold, friends, pure gold.
Here is my book. Click to buy and share the Beastly love. Here’s a review if you like to do your research.
PARENTS ARE SO UNFAIR.
THEY MAKE YOU SHARE TOYS WITH THE BABY.
THEY DON’T LET YOU EAT JAM SANDWICHES FOR DINNER.
THEY TELL YOU TO STOP THAT! AND HURRY UP! AND EAT YOUR VEGETABLES! ALL DAY LONG.
THAT’S WHERE THE BEAST STEPS IN.
To writers just starting out, even writers who have been working a decade or two, I say: don’t give up. Here’s something extra if you’re an unpublished author and need a pick me up.