Something feels different this time. I’m not sure what it is, but in releasing the sequel to Train Gone—Mirrors Strike Back—something just feels different, right.
When I published the first book I was an incredibly scared novice. I still consider myself young in the world of indie authorship, but I’m not as scared. With one book under my belt, I know how this song goes. I’m not speaking to the nuts and bolts of it all—writing, rewriting, working with my editor, my formatter, cover designer, publishing platforms, LLC, website to-dos, et al.—but I sort of know what to expect emotionally. I feel a bit settled, calmer. Dare I say—lighter.
After publishing the first book, I still felt heavy-hearted; I’d released a huge part of me, part of my life, and I felt like I wanted to hide. Yes, I wanted to share, wanted people to read my words and feel connected, but like my friend Lauren said after publishing, “I want people to read my work but at the same time, I don’t want anyone to look at me.” I totally know what she means, I can relate. Let’s connect from afar, quietly, and incognito.
The Sequel Speaks
So, onto the sequel. Onto better and brighter days. Happier endings, yeah? Well, maybe.
As I was working on Mirrors—writing and rewriting, working with editors, formatters, cover designer, various platforms, etc.—I still felt weighed down and I couldn’t figure out why because I thought the sequel’s themes were going to be more upbeat; some gashes were healing. But as I wrote, I realized the book, on its own, was burrowing into specific childhood traumas that I didn’t remember to forget. And the funny thing is, I didn’t think they would surface at all. Little did I know the plans I had for my book weren’t going to come to fruition because my book already had plans for me.
Well, all that did was slow the process down because not only was I writing, I was processing, grieving, self-soothing, and managing my own pain. I don’t want to mislead you, Mirrors Strike Back is not all doom and gloom. It’s the story of one woman willingly experiencing her anguish to work through it because she knows damn well there’s no getting around it. She finds her way, with well-timed humor weaved into the story perfectly due to the love from one specific character she happens to marry. Twice.
An Extension of Me
As for releasing parts of me via the written word, a fellow indie author and friend, J.A. Plosker, recently told me: “I realized that my books aren’t the only thing. What they are is an extension of me. Of my passions. A way to start conversations. It’s all about publishing, being proud, and letting go!” I couldn’t have said it better myself. Thanks for the reminder, friend.
It’s about processing, creating, sharing, starting conversations, connecting, and—most importantly—letting all that shit go to make room for what’s to come. It’s not safe to start a fire with a clogged chimney. You might wonder: why not just work through it, write it, and keep it to yourself or burn it even? Wouldn’t that release feel the same? My answer is no, it doesn’t feel the same for me. I’ve done that, and afterward I still felt shitty.
There’s something to be said for creating then destroying. I read on the Power Path website I have bookmarked, “Once something is past its time, it needs to be released, destroyed, to make room for another creation.”© Keeping my creations to myself feels like a festering disease, feverishly looking for an exit and finding none.
Furthermore, Ray Bradbury said, “To not write, for many of us, is to die.” And Stephen King also said, “You don’t do it for the money. You do it because it saves you from feeling bad.” IT. SAVES. YOU. For those of us who are writers and authors (or insert your passion here), it doesn’t get more real than that. Even for successful authors like those two, it was never about the royalties, the fame, or that their work made it to the big screen. They knew if they didn’t make way for their voices (their characters—the voices in their head which I totally understand) to be heard, they would wither into themselves and vanish. I find that hauntingly beautiful. I get it.
Writing Lives Independently
My memoirs breathe on their own. Most of the time, I don’t have a choice in writing one thing or another, or even a choice in how to write it. The characters in these memoirs, though based on very real people, said and did what they wanted while keeping in line with actual events and conversations. That may be hard to get and it’s even harder to explain, but this is, in fact, what characters do: they crawl into the hollow spaces of one’s mind and essentially take over. Including my own character. Seriously. Another version of me took over while writing me and I was merely a scribe for myself. To quote him again, Stephen King said while lecturing at Umass Lowell, “I’ve always wondered who I am when I write because once I’m doing it, I’m not really in the room with myself.”
All in all, releasing the memoirs has been cathartic as hell. It cleared a channel for me—more so for the characters I’ve been staving off for years; they’ve been not-so-patiently waiting. I can now start fictional fires (and I am so excited for my fiction!) in a recently swept chimney, safely. I’ve been reborn.
Onward, Rebekah, let those fictional characters fly their freak flags! And onward to my fellow authors and scribes! The voices aren’t scary, I promise!