I launched my book and we exceeded our goal of getting 100 downloads. We actually got 144 to be exact and I’m thrilled. Now that my book is in the hands of the public, I do feel a bit like a new mother – you think your child is adorable, but you would like everyone else to think so too. I remember when I first work-shopped my novel, how it felt to get encouraging words, have people like my characters and dialogue. That was the first moment where you really start to believe that you don’t absolutely suck as a writer. Not that you can totally focus on what other people think, but of course it is nice to have people like what you write. Ultimately, though, the work must stand on its own.
I also knew the exact moment when I needed to STOP work-shopping my novel; it was becoming a detriment: too many voices causing me to over think things, doubt myself and descend into the bowels of RE-WRITE HELL. That’s why when I made my last pass through my novel before publishing it, I found myself putting things back they way they were before people made suggestions. Workshops were invaluable to my progress as a novelist, but at some point you do have to listen to that still small storyteller inside and I had to get back to core of my story, the story that I wanted to tell in the first place.
So I hope people like my book, but if I’ve learned anything, it’s that we just have to do the footwork and leave the results up to God. It is journey and it’s still all about writing and daring to put words on paper. Like sending a child off to their first day of school, you must let them go and make a place for themselves in the world.
My novel The Fulton Parks Scholarship Fund finally went live on Amazon August 23, 2016. I’ve had this dream of publishing a novel for over twenty years and to see it online was a triumphant moment for me. I remembered a time when I had almost given up on it, and myself. In 2003 I quit my job as a software tester to finish my novel and toiled for the next two years. It would get finished, but I could not find an agent to represent me and had to go back to my day job, a humbling thing. I felt like such a failure and I will admit I got very depressed and discouraged. Despite prodding to write another book, the novel basically went ‘in a drawer’ and I stopped writing. Of course, I was proud that I had actually written a novel, not an easy accomplishment, but unpublished it was very much like that tree in a forest that falls with no one around and doesn’t make a sound.
Fast forward to 2011, I was still working at the proverbial salt mine, but a friend at work encouraged me to self-publish my novel on Amazon. At first, I resisted, still clinging to that notion of getting an agent, but self-publishing was beginning to shed some of the stigma attached to it and was becoming more than just an avenue for mere vanity products. The whole landscape of the publishing industry was changing and in the process becoming more egalitarian. Just like with music and YouTube, the idea was getting your creation into the hands of public, and not funneled through just a handful of agents and publishing houses.
And the thing is, I still believed in my novel. Every time I did think about it, I would still feel the old excitement, but it needed an outlet. My novel was a labor of love that needed to be birthed. With new focus in 2016, I made a pass through the novel and was finally was satisfied with the end product. Maybe it had needed that additional period of gestation. Then I tackled the maze of doing the necessary things to get a book online, which definitely pushed me outside of my comfort zone. Although it took me five years from that point in 2011 to actually published my novel, it was well worth the wait.
I read an interesting article about A.J. Jacobs (The Year of Living Biblically); he suggests four words that can change your life: It’s just an experiment. This is a thought hack. It made me think about all the things I’ve stopped myself from doing because of fear. This idea of looking at things as just an experiment, just a process of discovery, is freeing. We can extricate ourselves from the imprisonment of fear of failure, rejection, embarrassment, making a mistake – and fear’s constant companions – doubt, uncertainty, procrastination and self-flagellation. It has been said that the ego mind wants us dead, but it will settle for misery and all the above feelings certainly qualify.
At this time in my life, I am attempting to free myself from fear in many areas of my life, publishing my novel is certainly a huge one for me. Taking action, going towards things that make you uncomfortable and being solidly in the moment has been a radical act. A leap of faith that has taken me outside my comfort zone and has me doing things like asking for help and being vulnerable – not my strong suits. Moreover, daring to do it imperfectly. I had a real-time lesson of this last night when, in a brief moment of triumph, we got our 100 people for my Pre-Release Team. I sent them all an email about my novel launch – only to receive a very sweet response from one person – that I had a typo in my synopsis! Obviously, not the end of the world, but for this recovering perfectionist, it was humbling. Not to say, that I didn’t kick myself for not spell-checking (I have genetic propensity to not do this), and I did toss and turn a bit in the throes of some negative chatter inside my head. Ultimately, though, I let it go and chalked it up to: this is just an experiment and I had one, of what I’m sure, will be many teachable moments as I continue to live experimentally.
Excitement, trepidation, anxiety and hopefulness – just a few of the things I’m feeling today as I’m a week away from publishing The Fulton Parks Scholarship Fund. August 28th is my Launch Date!!! It’s been quite a journey from that first draft to now getting through the nuts and bolts of self-publishing. There is definitely a learning curve – and I’m sure I’m not going to do it perfectly, but as Chandler Bolt (founder of the Self-Publishing School) says “done is better than perfect.”
I’m also humbled by everyone committing to being a part of my Launch Pre-Release Team. Thank you all so much. I’ll be sending an email out later today with a surprise thank you. There’s still time to get on board. Just fill out my Contact Form and you’ll be on the team. Now I’m back to work!
There is no way that anyone can write a novel and not silence the inner critic, or as my first writing instructor said, “Kill the critic.” As any writer will tell you, when you first undertake to write anything, much less a novel, you will write badly. No one is a Hemingway or Faulkner right out of the gate, not even Hemingway or Faulkner.
You have to dare to write badly. Yes, write bad pages because it is through writing those bad pages that you will get to whatever gold lies beneath. That sought after Zen-like place where you begin to channel your characters and stories start to write themselves. But it is difficult to trust this process, especially in those first attempts. That is why it is so important not to go back and read what you’ve wrote that day. There will be time enough for re-writing, but first get words on paper.
If you like my post, use the Contact Form page to sign up to be on the Pre-Release List for my novel The Fulton Parks Scholarship Fund, which will be published in August.
Even though writing is a solitary pursuit, writing a novel does not happen in a vacuum. When I first began this journey of twenty plus years, I enjoyed the alone time in, but as it began to take shape I knew I needed to share the book with others. I went to several writers workshops and got feedback from other writers. Their help was invaluable and gave me the confidence to continue through several drafts. Now as I get ready to publish my novel, I am very grateful to all those people who have given me their time and believed in The Fulton Parks Scholarship Fund.
The time has finally come! I will be publishing my novel, The Fulton Parks Scholarship Fund, next month!!! More information to come.