Monday, November 30, 2015

Interlude: Real Time

So, what am I doing? I'm publishing my journals in chronological order from age 8 up to the present (I'm 36). For almost 30 years, I have written about my family, my friends, boys I crushed on or loved or thought I loved; books I read, music I listen to, movies I see; nature, travels, being outside, and how I think and what I feel on the inside. I write about other people - my impressions of them and stories they tell me. I write about the mundane, the profane, the profound.
I majored in English in college and spent most of my 20s convincing myself I needed to be an editor or a lawyer (God forbid). I scrambled my whole adult life to be somebody, or to at least have a career that mollified people at holiday cocktail parties when they asked "What do you do?" I wanted something to tell the family. Something that conveyed that I was making it or on my way.
Plenty of peers and well-meaning loved ones knew I wrote but they wanted me to write novels or magazine articles or prize-winning poetry or at least ad copy. None of those fit me. None. But I kept writing.
At a girls' weekend in summer 2013, an old friend said, "What if you published your journals?" The seed was planted and in April 2014, I began transcribing the journals. I woke up every morning at 5 to type for a couple hours before work. At the end of the work day, I came home and continued plugging away. I edited. And edited. And edited and kept editing. I read and edited the first three volumes so many times that they wove into me. On certain days, I forgot I was reading shit that I had written and I got lost in the words. And I realized the writing itself was not even a tenth of the work ahead of me.
I have read countless blog posts and articles about what you need to do to succeed as a self-published writer. It can be overwhelming. I've had to break it down for myself so I don't become paralyzed in the face of my to-do lists.In addition to writing, transcribing, and editing, I also have to pick cover designers, learn formatting, become a saleslady, do my own PR, query reviewers, consistently post on here, tweet, and generally hustle if I'm ever going to get these babies off the ground.
All the books and websites tell you that being a writer is hard and you may never "make it." They tell you it takes work. They tell you it takes time. What they don't tell you is that you fall in love with the process. They don't tell you that you develop an absorbing patience for the work itself but feel snappish toward anyone who eats up a spare moment of your time that could be spent writing, preparing for publication, or doing market research. No one has quite nailed what a bitch is to navigate formatting and attempt learning HTML when you've never worked with it before. I stumbled on Derek Murphy a couple weeks ago and he has been an immense help while I've been in the weeds of formatting.
No one has adequately described the reverie and angst of publishing books you feel passionate about all by your lonesome. It's hard to express the blood, sweat, tears, and bullshit of it. It puts me to sleep with a smile on my face and keeps me up with anxiety on certain nights. Working on these books makes me feel gentle, patient, and graceful. It also ravages me, making me feel like an angry beast intent on a vengeance I can't name or define. Ezra Pound said publishing poetry in America is like dropping a rose petal down the Grand Canyon and waiting for an echo. Such is the life of a writer but in the malady is the cure. Because I don't know about you but I can't afford to wait for the echo. I have to get after it like a lion taking down a gazelle, with ferocious insistence. Or I can go about it (as I kid myself that I do) with gentle determination, day in day out - just a sweet, quiet plodding. It's all in the mix. It's a roller coaster. My choice to become an author with a reading audience is rife with revelation, reckoning, and absolution. I feel transcendent joy once in a while and I feel laden with rage and filled with curses. I offer thanks and weep with gratitude. I spit and swear and sweat. So be it. I need to publish and share some mofo books because I can't stop writing them.

Minor: Volume One The Journals of Meghan McDonnell
Novice: Volume Two The Journals of Meghan McDonnell
Limbo: Volume Three The Journals of Meghan McDonnell

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