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  • Rebekah Mallory

TRAIN GONE

Updated: Sep 16

In 2005, I started making regular trips to the Borders in my neighborhood of Silver Spring, Maryland. Every Sunday. Bookstores have since been my “church.” Scanning the shelves of the Biography section, I came across a book by a dude who’d written about his own lobotomy. Shit, if he can get published...

That was the moment I knew I’d write a book. Standing in Borders that day, I had no idea what I’d write or how it would play out from start to finish but dammit, I knew I’d write a book. I started Train Gone (title-less at the time) in Laconia, NH in 2009 while sitting at the Black Cat Cafe, which is sadly no longer there. I sat at the bar with my brand-new, cherry-red, Dell laptop, a raspberry stoli and sprite, and started writing shit I remembered about my life. The fucked up shit. The hard-to-talk-about shit. The funny shit. The sad shit. The embarrassing shit. The shit I was ashamed of. All of it. Then I stopped. Who’d wanna read this anyway? I set it aside.

At the time I had a business to run, and a new relationship with a guy and his kids. There was no time to write. Then we moved, and I became a full-time stepmom. There was really no time to write. Then, something happened that flipped a switch inside me; all systems go. I was fired up and didn't know how to release the angst and energy. My husband (boyfriend at the time) helped me exorcise this emotional demon by emailing me questions, which I’d answer in my replies. I printed them out and saved them in a folder. This would also be the case with journal entries, thoughts on napkins, ideas scribbled on hotel notepads...you get the idea.

A few years passed and I began piecing it together. I wrote a draft. It was horrible. I rewrote the draft. Horrible. Then another and another. Horrible and then, eh, better? I saved it on my laptop and again, a couple years went by. I got triggered by another event. Then another. So, I opened the document and started writing again. And writing. And writing. Before I knew it I had over 90,000 words (this is ideal in the writing community). I sent it to two close friends who edited it for/with me. Saved it again. Rewrote it again. Edited it again. And I still hated it. So, I set it aside. Then, I found my writing coach. We exchanged a few emails and she told me to send my manuscript. “Is that what I have?—a manuscript?” I asked. “Yes. Send it.”

I sent it to her regardless of the fact that she was a stranger and would be reading all the details of my scandalous life. She emailed me almost immediately with, “you’re a great fucking writer, Rebekah. Publish this.” She referred me to a copy editor/proofreader, and a formatter (in France) who in turn referred me to a book cover designer (in England), and as George Costanza would say, yadda, yadda, yadda.

When one self/indie publishes that network isn’t automatic, it grows, takes time. And when one self/indie publishes, it is in no way inferior, it's just as hard, perhaps harder because you're starting your own network from scratch; there's no hobnobbing with fancy editors or publishers in New York City over dry martinis. And let's not forget about me needing to be emotionally ready. I'm not only letting my closest friend go out on her own, but I've gotta be ok with people reading all of her (my) dirty secrets (not to mention how the memoir may affect my estranged family). So, yeah, it all took a minute—5,781,600 of them to be exact.

I could hem and haw over editing forever, but I don't wanna. It’s gotta stop. How I wrote this month isn’t at all the same as how I wrote last month. I changed, my writing changed, and it will continue to change because I will continue to change. Some days the writing is rock solid, other days it's excruciating work. As Lady Chablis would say, “Two tears in a bucket, motherfuck it." Without further ado, here is my word-baby. She’s ready to be out on her own now.

Be gentle with her; she lives, she breathes...imperfectly. Both paperback and e-book are available. Being a Luddite, I prefer paperback, but you do what you like. Sorry, audible isn't available; when I book either Michael C. Hall or Sarah Jessica Parker to narrate, I'll let you know!

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