I typed the words, "The End." I hired an editor and a cover designer to help make my book shine. I read, and reread, and reread again until I couldn't look at the thing that had once been my sole purpose in life not one more time. I laughed and danced and shuddered with glee as I held my first novel in my hands. And then I panicked.
Because while I know I put my heart and soul into this book baby of mine, the feelings of doubt inevitably began to creep in. And the questions started to unravel that blissful feeling I had at having put fingers to keys to create a unique piece of art, bound in a heather of words.
How will I find reviewers when no one knows who I am? How am I supposed to build a platform on social media when I'm terrible at both - being social and navigating the media? How can I promote myself when I prefer to go unnoticed? How did I not see that repetitive sentence? How will I tell the world about my book? How will I protect my book from the world?
But I realized something after I sent an Advanced Reader Copy to my first reviewer. They posted my book on their social media (which I was ecstatic about), and included comments about what they were hoping for. And I had this involuntary inclination to correct them, to say, "Um, no, well, um actually...my book is more of a..." And that is where all those doubt-filled questions had found root to grow, in that bed of assumption where I'd allowed myself to believe that I had control. Because once that book entered the reviewer's hands, it was no longer my book anymore. It was their book, and if they felt like describing the book as a "raunchy ride on the back of a unicorn," then that was their prerogative.
There was beauty in that realization, and at least for the time being I can force myself to move past those questions and keep pushing my book forward until, hopefully, they fade into the background. Because no matter what happens, MY book is and will always be exactly what I wanted it to be. It will be the story I wanted to read. It will be a place to work through my ideas and feelings regarding the disease of addiction. A place to gain context about the world that shaped how I felt as a young, black kid when I was too young to understand. A place to experience the cool things from my childhood that were always so elusive, locked behind my older brothers' bedroom door (I snuck in sometimes anyway, and went through ALL their stuff).
But THEIR book, well who knows? It's not up to me. The book I wrote may not be the book you read, and that's a fantastic thing, the most beautiful thing about books. They are what they are to whoever has the opportunity to read them, and my only job as the author is to encourage that opportunity as much as possible. I think that's the key, a helpful tidbit to remember when you're embarking for the first time into the book world. You wrote a book. And YOUR book is PERFECT.
Copyright © 2020 by Marissa Harrison
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