I did it. I published my novel. The First Ethereal exists in the world. It’s a thing. What lived only in my head for such a long time, is finally out there. It’s real.
The truth is, I never really believed that I would do it. In fact, for a very long time, I doubted that I could do it. Writing reports is one thing, but writing a whole bloody novel is ridiculously hard – or so it was for me anyway.
Even once I had a pretty robust manuscript in my hands and I’d faced down the could question, a not-so-quiet voice in the back of my head cackled every time I thought about self-publishing. ‘Oh, ‘ark at ‘er!’ it drawled, ‘Who does she think she is? Snooty bitch.’
I listened for a while, cowed by this inner critic from my past and so I played the game and sent off a handful of query letters to agents. In hindsight, I suppose I was asking for permission. Validation certainly. I waited like a good girl.
Then we went into Lockdown and I was forced to stop long enough for all my familiar demons to finally catch up with me. It was quite the reunion. There was, however a new tormentor among the pack. But this one was quiet, gentle even. ‘How would you feel if you died without doing this?’ she asked quietly once the others had finally piped down.
Maybe it hit home because so many people were losing their lives to this horrible disease. Or maybe it takes a global pandemic to remind you of your mortality. Either way, something snapped. I promptly told my inner critic to go fuck herself, found an editor and bought an online course on self-publishing.
Publish and be damned
I’d love to claim that it was all plain, confident sailing from that point, but of course it wasn’t. I was nearly sick the night before my launch at the thought of someone I didn’t know actually reading my book.
Nothing I’ve ever done has left me feeling quite so exposed. To share your writing is always to share a soft and vulnerable piece of yourself. To offer yourself up for inspection, critique and potential ridicule. I’m sure I could probably walk naked through Waitrose with less anxiety – although I’ll not be putting that theory to the test anytime soon!
What I do know is that, while this has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, it is, without doubt, the most transformative.