Doing things that scare you
Including publishing the most raw, open, and honest memoir
Earlier this week I did something that’s been weighing me down for months: I reached out to my publisher, confirming that I’m ready to start the publishing process — for real this time.
For those of you who don’t know, I’ve been working on a memoir, originally expected to launch Spring 2022, with New Degree Press (NDP).
Back in October, when I submitted my manuscript and received the “green light” to move into publishing (which happens to less than 50% of authors who submit their manuscript to NDP), I panicked.
“I can’t do this,” I thought over and over again.
“The book isn’t ready. It needs to be perfect before I can move into publishing.” (It doesn’t; it needs to be 95% complete, which mine was).
“I don’t have enough social media followers.”
“I won’t raise the money.”
I asked the publishing team if I could pause the process due to mental burnout and some other health concerns (which I really was struggling with at the time, and the team was very understanding and encouraged me to reach out when I was ready — thanks, NDP team!). What I didn’t tell them is that I was too scared to move forward.
Putting a book out is terrifying.
Fundraising and investing upwards of $10,000 is a massive risk for something that may fail.
The thought of missing a typo or mis-remembering a story or using an insufficient adjective or picking the “wrong” cover creates an immense level of pressure when you know that it will literally live forever. I can barely post things on social media without overthinking it; how would I do it with a book?
Putting myself out there for my family, friends, colleagues, and basically the whole world to potentially see is downright terrifying. My writing style is very raw, open, and real, and I worried (still do) that this could end up jeopardizing my career and relationships.
What I realized, though, is that this won’t change.
That fear will still be there, even if I edit the book to perfection.
That fear will still be there, even if I had 100,000 followers.
That fear will still be there, even if I only sell 5 copies.
That fear will still be there, whether I publish my own story (memoir) or someone else’s (fiction).
All of those excuses went out the window when I got the urge to print out a copy of the book. Holding that stack of 100 single-spaced pages, complete with 42,252 words, is unlike any feeling I’ve experienced before.
Flipping through the approximately 1-inch thick stack, I couldn’t help but smile, thinking about how much time, energy and love I poured into putting those words onto paper. I did that.
As you know, I have a tendency to give up when the going gets tough (see: last week’s newsletter), but not this time. There’s no possible way I can give up this late into the game. This time, I have to publish — for me; for us.
This memoir has become so much more than it set out to be. What started out as a story about my very public weight loss journey and the harmful effects of social media transitioned into a glimpse of what it’s like to live with more than one form of hidden chronic illness and everyday trauma. As it stands, I open up about everything from being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and hidden Celiac to experiencing my first panic attack to wanting to go to sleep and never wake up. I also talk about how my childhood shaped me — from learning to live with a Soldier mindset to experiencing extreme bullying. Many of these stories have lived solely in therapy, and, looking back, it’s hard to believe how honest I was able to be in these pages. Truthfully, I haven’t been able to read them all back yet, but skimming them, I’m genuinely shocked I was able to put such true words and emotions on paper.
I don’t know if all of these moments will make it into the final book or not, but it’s a story I need to tell — as a form of personal healing and growth, yes, but also to form some sort of community. By putting myself out there in this way, maybe someone else who has gone through something similar can feel like they’re not alone.
I’m still scared beyond belief to put this book out there. Terrified, in fact. I don’t feel ready whatsoever, but perhaps that’s the reason I need to do it. To push through that invisible barrier and prove to myself that it’s worth it.
So, I’m sharing it here first: Behind the Facade is officially scheduled to publish in September 2022. I signed a contract and everything, so there’s no going back.
I’ll be doing a pre-sale campaign in the next few weeks and would really love your support. I’ll share a special edition of the newsletter when the campaign is live. Please know that while purchasing a book or donating to the campaign may seem a small act, it makes a huge difference. For an author, it’s truly the greatest gift.
Until next week,
* * *
P.S. In case we haven’t met yet, I’m a digital storyteller, indie author, and mental health advocate living near Portland, OR with my husband, Matt, and our pup, Georgia. I self-published my first book, Insomnia: A Middle-of-the-Night Haibun Collection and am currently writing a memoir, Behind the Facade (’22).