Just Getting Started
As a lot of you know, the past two years have held a lot of changes for me. I moved from Indiana to Missouri, then back to Indiana. There was a bit of job quitting, followed by getting another job, then eventually moving back in with the moms. There were the unfortunate Tinder dates, followed by a surprisingly few good Match.com dates. Most importantly though, I finally finished my book. Hallefriggenlulya.
I started writing Why Is There A Toothbrush In The Bushes in November of 2015. In a month-long flurry of writing as part of NanoWrimo, I banged out a 50,000 word manuscript not fit to wipe my butt with. Reminder, I did this while deployed to Afghanistan. I had no idea that was the easy part, just getting it all out in one go. I mean, how lucky could a gal get, hours of uninterrupted hours to put words down. I’m not sure it would have worked out, had I still been in the states.
Then, the editing part came and I’m not going to lie, it put me at a standstill for a solid year. I mean, Stephen King says he always drops his first draft of any story into a drawer for a good six months. I figured I might as well give my book twice as long to stew in it’s own juices. Months went by without even touching the pages.
Frankly, I was terrified. I was scared for so many reasons. I was sure every word and punctuation was shit and no amount of fixing could make it into something that someone would want to read. I was scared that no matter how many people I had look at it and hours I put into rewriting, it would still be awful. Strangely enough, it never occurred to me that I was maybe sharing too much personal stuff, I mean, I’m a born over sharer and I guess that makes for a good storyteller, or at least an active storyteller.
At some point something changed. A sense of release came over me and I decided my baby no longer had to be perfect. I realized I could write draft after draft, and I would still find parts I didn’t like. I had the help of two amazing editors that gave me some perspective. Some of it was hard to hear, some of it exhilarating. The important part was letting it out into the world, as in the words of Roald Dahl:
Look, I’m not an expert in much, except Sex and the City and the Golden Girls, but I did learn some things along the way in writing the book. Herein are a few of those tidbits I picked up.
- Any dream or goal looks so very big in the beginning, but it’s really so small. It seems insurmountable from the get go. Stop, shut up, get a notebook, go write some shit down, break it into itty bitty baby steps. Pick one thing every day to do. I’m not going to tell you how or when you should get allll that shit done, you’ll figure it out. Just do something, anything, one.damn.thing.a.day. For example, today, I ordered toothbrushes in bulk for advertising reasons. Success favors the persistent, not the loudest person in the room.
- There will be shit days. You will face plant, maybe with your pants around your ankles. I learned more with every misstep than successes. There will be days you have no idea why you started what you started. I questioned over and over why I was bothering. But I then thought, you know what, a guy from Duck Dynasty wrote a book, why can’t I? Just last week, I sat at a viewing the worst movies produced in history, The Room. It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever witnessed and brought me so much joy that I can’t remember the last time I laughed so much. That movie never would have happened if Tommy W. hadn’t decided that no matter what, he was getting that movie done. Years later, he is reaping the benefits. So, I guess, if you’re going to suck, suck HARD…and sell that shit.
- Ask for help and guidance, but realize, it’s ultimately up to you what you put out. My editors suggested various changes. Some aspects, I decided to change, other things I stuck with…(yes Haley, I’m sticking with the made-up Mariah Carey lyrics and I’m ok with it). For me, there were parts of my story I was willing to let go, and the things I kept, I had a damn good reason for. Have conviction. If you find your “because” for every choice you make, you’ll rest a little easier. Grownups don’t need to explain themselves. Own that shit.
- Music helps. I had playlists for everything relating to my days in getting the damn book finished. I had songs that zoned me out during writing sessions. I had songs I played right after getting out of bed to falsely motivate me to get my ass in a chair to edit, yeah, they were cheesy but they fucking worked, that’s what mattered. I had playlists for when I wanted to wallow in the suckiness of every word I produced, followed by more Les Brown “you can do it” ridiculous speeches. I would have attempted to tackle a 300-pound-Viking after those videos. Routine breeds habit, and just by putting on a certain playlist, it could expedite my sinking into a groove of productiveness.
- I hate being clichéd and corny but, lastly, my dear friends, just fucking let yourself dream it. If you believe it long enough, your baddassness will kick in to make it happen. There used to be a set point that I thought I was not allowed to cross in reference to things I was capable of. That’s how growth works though. I allowed myself the smallest of goals, I told myself to just start the blog. I put in the work at the library because we all know Laura sucks at technology. I eventually learned what I needed to in order to make it go live, and I wrote posts. They were awful, they were boring, but they were there. Writing the blog got me used to sharing parts of myself I probably shouldn’t have, which lead me to believe I could write a book about my dumb life. Finishing my story allowed me to even dare think I could publish it myself. Is it a huge publishing house, absolutely not, self-publishing is as narcissistic as it gets, but hey, that’s how Fifty Shades of Shit got started. Is the release of my book on my terms, fuck yes. Will there be people who hate it, absofuckinglutely. Will I cuss too much in this whole process, also yes. All I know for sure is I did it, I made it, it’s mine, and that’s a hell of a lot more than others have done. If I can make one single person laugh, or make one person say, “hey, me too,” that will be enough.
So, my lovely readers and friends, there are not enough words to thank you enough for supporting me and letting me know I’m being heard. I will cherish every comment, every like, every share, every sentiment. You all have made these days worth living. This might not be my purpose, but it’s my path, and for that, I’m grateful.
For those interested, I’m looking into venues to host a book release party, so most importantly I can see your beautiful faces, but also, so you can buy my book if you haven’t already, or bring a friend, or get your copy signed, the possibilities are endless. Stay tuned.