Hey y’all… I’m starting a new 5 part series about things I didn’t know when I set out on this writing journey three years ago. I’m making the assumption that unless you already know someone in the business or were born into a literary family – you don’t either. For my author friends, feel free to add in your experiences or elaborate in the comments.
A bit about my experience: I.Had.None. Aside from being gifted with words and arranging them (i.e. a good writer) I knew NOTHING about writing a book.
I seriously took three novels (I’ll elaborate more in future weeks) and highlighted dialogue tags and studied structure. It was totally uncharted territory, and I was more than scared about my ability to tell a tale. I’d tried before (not in earnest) and failed but this time, it was different. I was different. The day I wrote the opening lines for my first book The Waiting, I knew I had something special and worth fighting for.
There’s no way to prepare yourself for all that comes along with self-publishing, but hopefully this will show you rookie mistakes to avoid and ways to get a step ahead. So without further adieu, here’s the first thing you don’t know when you decide to self-publish.
1) You will step out of your comfort zone.
I’m an introvert. Like, bad. Plus, most of the time, I’m socially awkward as hell. I feel things, express things that most normal people walking around don’t, and this can lead to them getting very overwhelmed by me and my personality. For the most part, becoming a nurse (and the natural extrovert qualities you MUST possess to do that job) helped me overcome this or rather, tone myself down, because let’s just be honest, no one wants a teary nurse who may or may not be crying because she’s 1) angry 2) sad or 3) happy.
Kristen Bell (of Frozen fame for those of you who’ve lived in a box for the past three years) said if she’s not within a 3-7 on the emotional scale, she’s crying. Seriously, this is me. If I am even a half step past those numbers, I’m weeping – or trying not to. Btw, if you’ve never seen her sloth video, it’s a must watch! (Kristen Bell on Ellen)
All this to say, it’s not easy for me to step out of my cocoon and put myself and my books (essentially my children) out for the world to see and scrutinize. I’ll admit, I’ve received more praise and acceptance than critical comments, but even positive accolades take me to an uncomfortable place where I have to talk about myself and what I do. But I believe in order to grow as a person and as a writer, we have to be willing to put ourselves in situations where we are totally and completely uncomfortable. I liken it to fight or flight. Sinking or swimming. How do we hold up under pressure? Do we shy away? Or do we meet the challenge head on?
Yesterday, I took part in my very first video interview. I was asked the evening before by J.A. Allen of Scribbles on Cocktail Napkins as a prize for winning her weekly challenge (check them out on her blog under #SSC) and though I was hesitant, I said yes. Now that I think about it, having to decide in less than five minutes was probably for the best. I’m a planner with extremely sudden burst of impulsiveness and I’m glad (for once) my spontaneous side took over.
J.A. is a co-host on a weekly show on YouTube (Writers off Task with Friends) along with Dan Alatorre and Allison Maruska. And even though, I was nervous, those three were a blast and made me feel comfortable from the start. That’s not to say I didn’t have my moments of super weird wandering eyes, over-exaggerated Southern accent, and general overall awkwardness, but that’s okay. Vulnerable is beautiful. It’s authentic and it stretches you to become a better version of yourself. So take the chance and get out of the comfort zone! You never know what’s on the other side.
Vulnerable is Beautiful artwork by my supremely talented Sister of the Moon, Sierrah. She is also Starling Hopewell.