I'm still reeling from seeing the story I've been penning for three years printed in a paperback. I don't know that I've experienced anything more gratifying as an artist. I've completed so many works before, but this one is different.
The Recital is the first novel I'm publishing. It tells the story of Edith Solstice, a preteen girl who nearly kills a girl by accident the moment she discovers she's a witch. The young adult debut set in the late 90s blends elements of urban fiction, coming of age, fantasy, and romance. The story copes with divorce, bullying, and drug & alcohol abuse. The book is also accompanied with diversity in race and sexuality.
That's a lot, right? Well, seventh grade was kind of a big deal for me, and for a lot of people I know, so I had a lot to draw on.
The novel is available for purchase April 14th. But what happens on April 15th? And the day after that?
Ever since I was six (though my Mom says as far back as three), I've wanted to write. Fast forward to thirty, and that desire is as strong as it's ever been. It's also a necessity. I want to write for the long haul. You know, make a living out of it. That isn't going to be easy.
Here's the honest, transparent truth about the adversity I face: I have no personal savings. I live from paycheck to paycheck from two part-time jobs, one of which I just found out I won't have for much longer (stupid union department merger malarkey). I have about $40,000 in student loan debt still hanging over my head that's rendered my credit embarrassingly bad for at least the next two years, and am severely jaded with the idea of working for others because most of the employers have let me down. But I'm lucky to have my health, and I'm able to stay afloat because I don't have kids or corgis. I've made so many sacrifices that I couldn't possibly try to count or talk about, buoyed compromises and temporary fixes, and somehow between all that, found time to write a polished, professional novel.
Is my life impossible? Absolutely not. All those things I just mentioned I'm grateful for. Without that struggle, I don't know that The Recital would ever have come to life. I may not have ever found the discipline and the faith that I needed in order to fulfill that special childhood dream. I'd be still talking about the idea of it, but I might have never executed it. Everyone has a struggle, and there's so much beauty in that. I've met many other writers like me over the last few years, and so many of them have inspired me. I've applauded others. I've shed tears for them. I root for them and show them support.
The struggle is why we write. And the struggle never ends. That's why I won't ever stop writing.
The Recital isn't the only book I want to write. In fact, I've already started working on the next project. Although I may not reveal anything about it until early next year. In the meantime, what I do want to do publicly is share The Recital. I want it in as many hands as possible. I hope it inspires someone out there.
But I've got work to do.
For those who don't know what a writer's life is like, there's things like going to networking events, requesting bloggers and reviewers and influencers to read and discuss your book; there's the rigorous effort in getting into libraries and book stores; there's marketing campaigns, promotions, contests and competitions. There's maintaining my website and social media, especially now that I'm a public figure and my own business. There's culturing and sustaining new relationships, seeking out collaborators, applying for writer fellowships, studying and reading more than I ever have, finding time to write creatively, finding ways to write things that pay the bills...the list goes on. I've truly got my work cut out for me as an independent author. Selling copies doesn't happen automatically. The saying about "build it and they shall come" is old and doesn't apply to the saturated indie author market.
And I'd like to make time for friends and family and wine and video games. Celebrating life is necessary, too. It's the most precious gift of them all, isn't it? As much as I love writing and storytelling, it is important to remember to live. That's also been a struggle: learning (and remembering) to just chill out sometimes.
Do I expect to be rich and famous? Absolutely not. I'm not even sure I'd want that. My privacy is how I breathe, and history has told us: mo' money, mo' problems. But I'd love to make enough with The Recital to pay off that student loan debt, and also be able to invest in the next projects. In fact, that's how it has to happen. I don't think I'm going to find a job that's going to pay me what I think I deserve. Nor do I want to try to find one. That's why I'm committed to employing myself in 2016 and beyond.
April 14th is only the beginning of a long journey. And I hope you come along with me.
Now pardon me while I go do some laundry that's long overdue.