How Hard it was to say "Shut the F*** Up"
Do it for the Children
Very recently I was asked by a teacher friend of mine to share the story of the challenges I was faced with in publishing my first book. She requested this as an educational and with any luck, inspirational tool for a large group of 4th and 5th graders who have all been published through a program at their school. Of course in recollecting my story of trials and tribulations, I came head to head with a few pangs of jealousy. Being proud of being slightly jealous of a 5th grader is not something I am proud of exactly, but having a program at my school when I was younger that might have helped me to get my work published (so young at that) would have been a priceless life lesson, and valuable to me for, quite possibly, for the rest of my life. It might have started me on the path to writing much sooner, and saved me a lot of "trouble" in learning lessons the hard way, instead providing a guiding hand and clearly lit path. These children are so lucky, not only to have the chance to get published, but to have these dedicated adults investing in these programs on their behalf. I can only hope the story I am about to relay to you now, was something they found motivational or inspiring in some way.
The Hard Part Was... Everything
Writing has always been a passion of mine though my focus was short stories, songs, and poetry, I decided one day that I wanted to take on the task of writing a full length book that, if done right, could help people like me pursue their own happiness.
Throughout this already challenged process, as I had never written anything of such substance, there were three separate occasions that all made me feel very much like throwing in the towel and never writing again. The first of which was simply losing the in depth notes I had taken (by hand). I had worked on them for well over a year. They outlined research, experiences, points I wanted to make, feelings and so much more. And just like that, they were gone. I had no idea where they were but I knew I couldn’t possibly create another set of notes like that. And even if I tried they would pale in comparison to what I had lost. And so I sulked for a week or so until I finally had the thought – those notes contained my research, my experiences, the points I wanted to make, my feelings – they contained me, so why couldn’t I re-create them? I was the notes! Or, at the very least, they were in my head. After a few weeks I was right where I left off before the mysterious vanishing notes occurred. I was ready to write my first full length book.
I plugged away for days at a time, turning all those new notes and old thoughts into a book designed to help people. I took a few days off, got some new ideas, and got right back to it. I swear, this was the best book ever written even considering the set back of losing my original notes. I was feeling pretty proud of myself and had almost completed the book in its entirety. I knew this book could change the lives of the people who got their hands on it. I just knew that this book could change the world. And then the laptop stopped turning on. I hadn’t backed anything up. It never even occurred me! Everything was gone. No one could recover it. Everything. Just like that. Gone.
And I decided that it was a sign. I shouldn’t be a writer. Who cares if I always wanted to be one?
The world was against me. Out to get me. Hates me.
It ate my notes, it broke my computer, and more importantly, it broke my spirit.
Months go by. Then years fly by. I find myself busy with other things, other pass times, projects and people but that failed attempt at a book was still nagging at me. That hope of writing and publishing my book just would not go away. First the universe tried to kill it and then I tried to kill it by ignoring it and when neither worked, I remembered the old saying and I thought to myself “Hey Abby, the third time is always the charm! Go get your laptop – and back things up this time!” And that’s what I did, fully expecting this is be just as hard and just as miserable as my previous two attempts. But I wrote that book with all of my heart and soul. I thought long and hard about what to call it, and because I was asking people to listen to me for a minute, in an effort to learn how to better listen to themselves, I titled this book "Shut the F*** Up". That tid bit was not shared with the children as far as I know. STFU was edited, its cover was designed, I, along with a small support team, got it all primped and ready and sent it out to 50 or so publishers. It was such an exciting time, full of endless possibility, and I don’t recall a time in which I ever had more hope. I was finally doing it. I was finally accomplishing not only a HUGE goal – but also a dream.
It's Not Rejection... It's Just Not Right...
After only a few weeks I got my first reply back from a publisher. It was a no, but a very polite and actually very supportive one. They love what they read, but they couldn’t take this risk. (The title of the book.) Second and third replies come in wishing me great success but noting that no one has ever heard of me and this can’t be released with them. Fourth, fifth, ninth, tenth. All the same replies. It got to the point in which I was actually quite happy with the declines and the passes, because everyone LOVED my book! That was great news even though they couldn’t take a chance. I understood their reasoning and I was still very hopeful while awaiting the reply of the rest of the publishers. (A few of them asked me to change the title of the book and if I had they would have released it). Literally, not one publisher had a negative thing to say about the contents of my book. But they all passed on the project.
Where did that leave me? I felt like… big deal! I finally wrote the book. People love the book. And NO ONE is ever going to get a copy. But it only takes one little break for something to work. And it was in that time that I was guided by other authors to forming a partnership with CreateSpace (owned by Amazon) as they had. If no one else would publish my book, finally now, I could with the support of Amazon and CreateSpace. As my publisher they print copies of my books on demand whenever someone wants one, they advertise it, sell it online, track my sales for me, and the best part – they pay me royalties.
This partnership has worked for years and they are preparing to publish my second book in just a few short months.
The moral of this tale of personal and professional challenges, aside from backing up important information on your computers, is to know in your heart, that if it’s something you love and have passion for, you should never, under any circumstance, stop doing it. Always try, and then try harder to accomplish your goals and dreams. Always pursue the only success that really matters – being happy.
Children are the Future
I did check in with my teacher friend and was informed the children in the schools program were grateful for the time I spent sharing the story with them, and they seemed pleased to be able to say that they, with the help and guidance of their teachers, were able to accomplish the very same goal that I found so elusive for so long.
All I wanted to do was help people, but saying "Shut the F*** Up" was the hardest thing I ever took on in my life. I am proud today that the book is released and still being sold through various retailers but I might be even more proud to know that I inspired just one young person to stick to their guns, follow their dreams, and accomplish their goals, even more than I am proud of accomplishing my own. It is, after all, when you are able to share your passion that it is able to most flourish.