Today my oldest friend—since third grade—wrote to me that I must feel proud to be finished and have my book published.
I had to think, do I feel proud?
One of the best things about having a really longtime friend is that communication with them elicits authentic reflections. I wrote her that I do feel pleased about it being out, with a cover I chose carefully. I’m pleased that I didn’t put it into publication until I was sure it had gone through rigorous polishing.
“I’m not sure I feel proud,” I wrote her. “I have a bundle of feelings at this point. It is a huge process and does take dedication and tenacity to write a book, but I needed it—I needed this novel at the time I started it—and loved the process. The writing groups I’ve been in have been incredible, in the companionship and the sharing. I took my time. I learned so much along the way.”
Now I’m anxious to see where it all goes. I’m having more fun with the marketing phase than I ever imagined. I wasn’t picturing trying hard to get a lot of readers, but maybe that was defensive, saying to myself, basically, “Oh, I don’t need a lot of people to read it. Just a few who might enjoy it.” Probably fear, too. I told my friend about my blog post last week, in which I wrote about holding back, feeling that if the academics I was in the Ph.D. program with read it, they’d think, “What a light weight. No wonder she never got a Ph.D.”
“You know, that mean voice we have in us sometimes,” I wrote, “censoring our every action and sometimes blocking us altogether.”
I think the process of publishing is actually working those hyper-critical inner messages out of me. Spending time on good copy for blurbs to attract readers, developing newsletters, writing this blog … knowing I had the bravery to say, “yes, it’s finished, it’s ready. I’m going to send it.” All of it honors the book, and does something positive for the deep soul place from which I made the effort.
All of these are very different feelings from any I could have predicted along the way, as I was writing, and rewriting, editing, revising…