Cover art: Dave and Les Jacobs / Getty Images

My debut book is out — now the tough part begins

It helps to remember that something you wrote made someone else feel understood or less alone

After more than a year of work nights and weekends, dozens of heartfelt conversations and countless revisions, Love in a Time of International Living is available on Amazon for the price of a cup of filtered coffee!

It all started with an essay posted on Medium that gathered unexpected momentum and provided a case study for the network effect on social media platforms. By the end of the month the essay had made its way to more people than I loosely called friends on facebook.

Dotting the final ‘i’ on a debut work was difficult and nerve-racking and it helped to have a hard deadline before a trip. Since this was my first “proper” collection, I thought it was important to get it out there as soon as possible and judge by the response. I guess I am not a perfectionist. Rather, I am someone self-involved enough to believe she has something interesting to say while taking herself lightly enough to make it possible to publish.

I also took a page from the Agile method of product development, which teaches us to ship as soon as we have something our users would love, and learn and adapt from there. I guess I tasted the Kool-Aid and found it agreeable.

I know now that the scariest — and most important — trial for an artist is the bid for validation from her circle. I think it was the Argentinian writer Roberto Arlt who said, in a quote I can’t seem to find anywhere (or else I imagined it!), Is it a good book? I think it’s a good book. My wife thinks it’s a good book. My friend thinks it’s a good book. It is a good book. And so it goes.

Thankfully, the response has been fantastic. With over two hundred downloads in the first week alone, the book climbed to the #4 best-selling position in the Relationships category on Amazon UK. Close friends and people I hadn’t spoken to for months emailed their appreciation and positive impressions. I could honestly say that my first book got “rave reviews,” even if they were from people I knew personally. We all have to start somewhere, don’t we?

Here are a few unsolicited opinions I am forever grateful for:

“Exquisite! Savina explores the challenges and joys of living internationally and finding a sense of home no matter where you are in the world with grace and keen eye for what matters in life. Captivating and cathartic, this book rings true for anyone who has loved abroad, fallen for a foreigner, or simply has a heart for travel.”
“A beautiful reading that kept me up till early Monday morning. Every single line is so real, so simple and so warm. If you have ever lived abroad, you’ll also find a piece of you in those stories.”
“You were able to speak the truths of our generation so beautifully.”
“An honest and insightful book that leaves you with the feeling that you’re not alone.”
“Beautiful poetic style, honest, and relatable.”
“It was as if I was reading my own thoughts put nicely into words. I wanted more.”
“Writing about feelings in such a delicate manner is not an easy task, yet Savina manages to do so while keeping the interest of the reader. I hope this is only the beginning as these essays made me want to read a lot more from her (maybe a novel is next??).”
“Anyone who has lived internationally will probably relate and recognize their own joys, thoughts and struggles in the personal stories of the author. When living internationally, you change, you sometimes need to redefine what “home” is, you experience nostalgia, miss loved ones and very likely have to deal with long-distance relationships. This is by no means a self-help book or a guide on how to do it all. It’s rather a collection of personal stories that leave you with the feeling that someone else is going through the exact same thing as you are. There’s so much value in that!”
“The author perfectly relates to and comments on some of the most common themes that form part of today’s (younger) population’s experiences in a globalized world. Some pieces are very touching and feelings-heavy whilst others are light and amusing.”

And so, lifted by our personal insanity and the validation of the people we respect and love, we stretch ourselves a little further and get closer to the selves we dream of being.

This validation is so crucial because, as it turns out, writing a book is only half the battle. No matter how big of a splash you make, there will be low days when a little voice will say, Well, maybe it’s time to move on. At least you didn’t quit your job. It’s on those low days that it helps to remember that something you wrote made someone else feel special, understood or less alone. And that no matter how tough it is to make a living as a writer today, a writer is not something you become, but rather something you allow yourself to be.

If you are living — or loving — internationally, you might enjoy my essay collection Love in a Time of International Living, available on Amazon.

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