Oh Look, I Found My People!

Dear Fellow Author,

I hate blogging. I never know where to begin, which is strange considering I love to write. I think it stems from my fear that no one will want to hear what I have to say, which is why my last post was over a year ago (I think). That awkward intro out of the way, I felt compelled to speak for those of us who are newbies – the dreaded place in your career where you’re still starry-eyed and so in love with the idea of what you want to be, you forget (like any other career) it has pitfalls.

Let me back up a little and tell you a little about me. I’m a proud ginger, a stay-at-home mom to a “free-spirited” three-year-old princess/future snowboarder/Sassy McSassybritches/mini-me. I’m 37 (in years, but in heart I still kind of fangirl over Shawn Mendes, shh, don’t tell). I’ve been a lot of things in life, but I denied the part of me that said WRITE YOU DOTE for a very long time. My fifth-grade teacher told my parents I would be a writer one day, but guess what? I didn’t listen.

I never listen. That’s why I became a vet tech. Don’t get me wrong, it was a great job and I saved the lives of hundreds of animals (okay, the vets did, but like human nurses, we do a lot). I worked my way up the ladder and became a Lead Tech at a prominent ER practice in upstate SC. I loved my third shift job, but it beat the hell out of me after seven years. So, when my then boyfriend got a job in Jacksonville, FL, I decided to go on the adventure with him.

I had recently finished college, earning a BS in Environmental Management, because for reasons unknown to my logical mind, I thought I could make a difference (while also earning a Master’s in Business). Guess what? After working for nearly four years as a Hazardous Waste Inspector for the state of Florida, I did nothing. Politics will kill you EVERY TIME.

That boyfriend became a fiancé and eventually my husband. And as those things often go, I got pregnant. I decided I wanted to stay home with my daughter. Best decision I EVER made for two reasons. First, I get to hang out with my most favorite person every single day (even though she is the carbon copy of me in every way, and as my mother likes to point out – karma). But also, because I finally found time to write again. I fell in love so, so, so hard.

Shortly after, my little family moved to Savanna. I have no immediate family close, only one friend in the area, and my husband deployed overseas roughly eight months ago. It has been me and mini-me for a while, and although I’m exhausted from being a “single mom” all day, I still stay up late every night to write. It’s my therapy. Without it I would explode. Said explosion would be so big, a volcano would be named in my honor. I’m a ginger, remember? I won’t lie, I like it that way. Alone is my space. It’s where I thrive.

I look at my earlier work and cringe. It was bad. It was bad on levels I am not willing to subject the general population of readers to, because you’d all go brain-dead in an instant. But it’s a learning curve. We all know that.

I need to write, to get these character voices out of my head (anyone else develop plot while in the shower?), to tell the stories my vivid imagination can’t let go of until I’ve put them on paper. I write while my daughter is in the bath tub, while she naps, from her bedtime until midnight, I record notes on my I-phone when inspiration strikes – I am obsessed – just as many authors are. It’s my heart, what I was supposed to do with my life all this time.

So, now that I’ve bored you to death talking about myself (I know, I’m a narcissistic pain-in-the-ass who won’t stop following you on Twitter), I want to tell you why I gave you a summary of my life.

It’s because I’m freaking out.

Being new is hard, man. No one knows me. No one knows I lack confidence in almost everything I do. No one knows how terrified I am of leaving my safe space.

Putting your work out in the world is HARD. I don’t want anyone to hate my babies, my sweet innocent babies. When you’re new, you don’t know who to trust, who to look up to, who to emulate…

I started posting my work to Wattpad almost two years ago, much to my hesitation but my best friend’s encouragement. I was shocked anyone read it at all, and floored when my very first work amassed over three million reads in just under six months. WHAT? People like what I have to say? They didn’t just like it, they wanted more! My inbox filled with heartfelt messages about how my work changed their point-of-view, encouraged them, picked them up from a place of despair. Again, I say, WHAT?!

In two years I earned – yes EARNED with blood, sweat and tears, because teens are difficult to please – over 6,500 followers on Wattpad. They are my tribe, my Squad, I love them dearly. They are the people who pick me up when I feel totally wrecked. I have about two dozen loyal followers who read and comment on every story I write, which is about the best beta read anyone could ask for.

I was happy. Comfy as a clam in sauce…then I went into Indie Publishing. At first, not so bad, but then…#cockygate. I’m not calling out names, because that’s not the point of my post (that all of five people follow).

There are a lot of us, the newbies who hope to pick up the torch and prove you don’t need an agent or a huge publishing house to be a successful writer. We newbies, we are TERRIFIED by the idea that we have no voice. We don’t want to step on toes or jump in where we’re not wanted. We’re new, and to quote something my grandfather once said to me, “You don’t know what you don’t know until you know, and when you know it still doesn’t make sense.”

I’m pretty sure that was his way of saying nothing will ever make sense, and he had a point. I learn something new about the industry every day. But I think what I am most awed by is the little community I have suddenly found myself smack bang in the middle of (I don’t care, I like preps at the end of sentences).

I’m not big on social media, and I quite like being my introverted self (okay, I’m a hermit), but boy oh boy have I found my people! I love the way the community came together to stand up for something they believe in so fiercely, and I admire everyone who defended the authors who were afraid to do it for themselves.

I have exactly four friends who know me inside and out. I don’t trust easily. I make snap decisions based on emotion alone.  I rave like a lunatic when I love something, and also when I hate it. I’m a hot mess, yet I still feel like I belong.

I listened to both sides of #cockygate, and I am convinced only one side truly loves writing. I’m convinced that side would rather go broke and eat bread alone rather than pull tricks from a hat to sell books.

I’m rambling, I know (try being in my head), but I have a very specific point it’s probably time I get to – I finally feel surrounded by people who get me. And that’s pretty damn cool.  So thanks to all of you.  One day, I hope I can be for someone else, what you have been for me.

Love,

Your biggest fan, MJ

(I abuse commas, forgive me)

 

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