It’s been exactly one month since I published my memoir, TRAIN GONE: A CODA EX-JW MEMOIR, and so many feelings come with it: fright, anxiety, joy, relief, sadness, gratitude…you name it, I’ve felt it.
Hitting that PUBLISH button means breathing life into it, releasing it into the wild, and hoping it survives without the author’s (me) constant coddling and care. I have loved and shaped this story for eleven years and now she’s no longer mine. She belongs to whoever reads and digests her. It’s like I had a baby who’s now in her teen years, figuring out who she is without me.
My book is not the thing
My friend Josh–who is also an indie author–and I had a conversation about post-publishing feels and compared war-wounds. One thing he said that stuck with me was: “your book is not the thing. You are the thing.” I had to chew on that for quite a while before it sunk in; I’m still processing in typical, slow-as-molasses INFJ-fashion.
My book is not the thing. I am. Josh further stated, “it’s out now and what people are digesting, as they read your story, is you.” Oof. That statement hit hard. People are digesting me, reading the sordid details of my very-real past, chewing me up, and quite possibly spitting me out like a Netflix movie. This thought had not really occurred to me. I mean, it did, but it didn’t.
Navigating the digestive system
I’m still maneuvering through all these emotions post publication. Regardless of who reads it, loves it, hates it, critiques it, or sees it worthy of a sequel and TedTalk, it’s actually me readers are experiencing, not necessarily the book. And as I’ve said before: I am not for everyone and everyone is not for me. That is okay; it has to be. It’s a weird feeling to, well, feel.
One thing I’ve had to tell myself during this process is that what anyone experiences while reading and digesting my book (aka me) is: their experience has hardly anything to do with me. But it has everything to do with their life experiences and every little thing that makes them who they are, and I have about as much control over that as I do the person themselves. It’s a lesson that’s often much easier said than done, but it’s one worth implementing because I’m not changing for anyone. I am me. Here I stand–the world will adjust.
Reviewing and critiquing imperfect, little ol’ me
Once I clicked PUBLISH, I realized that the past eleven years I’d been writing for one person and one person only: me. Every memory, every thought, every word, sentence, comma, em dash, semi-colon, and sneaky typo (they happen no matter how many times you proofread the damn thing) was there for me and no one else. My own book helped me heal in ways I couldn’t really explain if I tried.
So, during this digestion process I discovered, I write for me. Whether it’s genius or whether it’s crap, I write for me. And a few weeks after releasing my baby into the great wide open, I finally understood she was no longer mine. I can’t protect her anymore. She’s now open to every criticism and review. Speaking of which, a HUGE thank you to those who have left a review, sent virtual and in-person hugs, shared, and blogged about my child. What anyone thinks or feels upon digesting us is essentially none of my business, but!–those reviews help anyone stuck inside their own personal hell find the book, and hopefully those folks find comfort with my word-child.
I hope as you digest the book, you remember, a real-live person was behind her creation; I truly experienced all the things laid out in my memoir, and I happen to think she’s pretty amazing. Her younger brother, A CODA EX-JW SEQUEL, is coming to life as we speak. I don’t think this one will take eleven years, though.
Much love and gratitude,