an encouraging but self-centered update letter to my fellow storytellers

For the past two and half years, since publication of my last book, I have worked on a novel. It has been the most rewarding and simultaneously painful experience I can remember. But through it, I’ve garnered some wisdom, I think, and I want to share that with my readers, because many of you are also writers.

See, my story has been “finished” since December, but for the last six months I have continued to rewrite, edit, change, and otherwise stress out over all aspects of the thing. I am self-publishing the novel, as I did for my poetry book, and the process is, mathematically speaking, a gazillion times harder than publishing a book of poetry. It is exhausting

To step into the world of self-publishing a novel (somewhat correctly) I have learned about formatting,
fonts, illustration, marketing, proofreading, financing, and on and on.

Additionally, I’ve learned a great deal about friendship. I have observed immeasurable outstanding qualities of so many people whom I am honored to call my friends. From their encouraging words at moments of dire (yes, dire is not an exaggeration) self-doubt, to the criticism and suggested improvements and considerate analysis that they’ve given me.

I’ve seen the entire spectrum of friendship generously bestowed upon me because my friends are out of their minds. And because they believe that I can actually make a book. What wonderful people I know.

Here it is: If you’re writing a book, you need to find these kinds of people. Writing is a
lonely process, and you need to make sure you’re not secluded. If you are, your book will suck. It won’t be about people, and it won’t matter to anyone.

I am nearing the end of my first book-writing-process. I am doing what I hope are my last corrections and copy-edits. I am dangerously close to losing my mind over the thing. The closer I get to the end, the more I realize how much work I still have to do. If I didn’t have people to help ground me, I would have given up. I would have given up.

If you hang in there as a writer, you get to do some really exciting things that ultimately make the suffering worth it. For me, one of these things is interacting with beta-readers. Friends and professional acquaintances (who have become friends) are reading it and (some) are offering their red-pen opinions. I’m very grateful for these people.


I am also performing my own hackneyed attempt at self-editing, which is like trying to shave your
back—the angle is always wrong and you don’t have much experience. The worst part is that you’re shaving your back. So you’ve got to deal with all the self-conscious feelings and thoughts that go along with having a hairy back. Most days I feel more like a Sasquatch than a writer.

If you are a writer (or know one), then I’m sure you’d have no issue commiserating with me about having a hairy back (even the women).

So, this is my wisdom for my fellow writers with big projects: Hang in there. We all have hairy backs. We all feel inadequate at times. We all hate writing at times. Find the people who will encourage you and support you and, if you can believe it, are willing to help you shave.

…I realize it has become gross now, and I need to get away from that metaphor.

I’ll close by saying that I can’t wait to share more about my book: Captain Tomahawk and the Sky-Lion. I can’t wait to start the promotions that I’ve been planning. I really can’t wait to show you the cover!! And then, hopefully this summer (!!!!!!!!), to give you two years of my mind. I hope you love it.