When I was in high school, I started thinking about a group of characters. They lounged in my head for years, not usually doing anything. I would write a scene here and there, but never gave the story very serious attention. As I got older, the characters fell to the back of my mind. I made zines and tried to think of clever posts for Livejournal, then Myspace, then Facebook, but I never thought of myself as a “writer.” I thought being a writer meant moments of inspiration and beautiful words effortlessly pouring out onto paper. I studied painting and printmaking in college, and felt much more comfortable identifying with visual art than with writing. I mean, no one understands art, so it’s easier to pretend to know what you’re doing.
After college, I returned to one of my childhood favorite activities, reading. School kind of ruined reading for me, to be honest. One day, I saw an ad for a book club at my local feminist bookstore, a club for adults who read young adult books. I started going to the meetings, and was excited to make friends who also stayed in the YA section despite being decidedly Adults. Then, the leaders of the group got too busy to attend meetings, and I got the login to the Facebook page and announced myself the president. The group has been going for years, and now meets at the Multnomah County Library with a core group of about 10 people. We “discuss books through a queer and feminist lens,” which means that we dissect them in a much more fun way than I remember doing in school. Sometimes we all love a book, sometimes we all hate it, and sometimes one person’s favorite is a book that someone else threw across the room in disgust.
I started seriously writing my novel a few years ago for Nanowrimo. I wrote 40,000 words, just like I was supposed to. The story had no conclusion at all and jumped from scene to scene with minimal transitions, but I’d written 40,000 words! And I’d proven to myself that I could commit regular time to writing. I thought I would finish the story some day and photocopy it into a ridiculously thick zine. I even told a few people about my plans, sure that the accountability would make me finish the project. But I didn’t finish it on my own. I just let the file sit on my computer, my characters chilling with all their issues unresolved, waiting for me to find my way back to them. And meanwhile, I kept reading. I read books that made me feel so inadequate, like there’s no way I could ever write something so beautiful, so why even try? And I read books that I wanted to throw across the room. I could do better than this, I would tell myself. But where’s the proof, if all I have is half of a story to show for it? Last year, I decided that it was time. If I were to die tomorrow, I would regret never finishing my novel. No more talking, time to do it.
I knew Sage Adderley-Knox from zine conventions, and I knew that she had a ton of self-publishing knowledge and led a mentorship program. When she posted last November that she had open spots for new mentees, I decided to sign up. Sage’s mentorship program gives a deadline of six months, and there’s no way that I would be as far in my self-publishing journey as I am now without her help. The main thing that helped was how seriously Sage took my project. From the beginning, she acted like I was a real writer with something worth saying, which made a huge difference. This was someone with real experience who thought that me finishing and self-publishing a book was a realistic, achievable goal. And she had steps to get there and resources to help me.
So here I am, making my announcement to the world. Look for my debut novel, Book Smarts and Tender Hearts, coming out in summer 2018. Keep an eye on this blog for more news about the debut, including an exciting cover reveal!
Since starting to tell people about my novel, I’ve been surprised by how many respond that they have an idea for a book. My advice for you, if you have an idea or a few lines or a half a manuscript written, is to keep going! Don’t wait for inspiration to strike. Start prioritizing writing and start making it a habit. You don’t have to have everything figured out to start writing, but like they say, you won’t get it figured out until you start.
I like cats, feminism, queers, making things and writing, apparently.