Unlike many of the other seasoned authors with which I share this stage, this publishing process is my first (of what I hope will be many). Now, I never imagined that at the age of twenty-one, I would be on the threshold of such a grand accomplishment, but then again, stranger things have happened. And, to be perfectly honest, I had no idea what I was doing when I first started crafting and writing Shattered Illusions. I was still in high school. I was young(er) and naive, and though I had long grown out of the notion that the world was a magical place in which dreams miraculously came true, I had faith in myself and in my ability to bring my book to the world.
I did not write Shattered Illusions with the idea in mind for publishing. At least, not until I got to about half way, and I realized that my days spent writing were much more serious than I originally thought them to be. Writing Shattered Illusions gave me the freedom to be myself which I had not known existed before. That is not to say that it was easy, because it wasn’t. Even now, in the final stage before publishing, it’s difficult, perhaps more than it was before.
Many people who I love and cherish dearly were the first ones to tell me that becoming a published author would take a lot of hard work, persistence and resilience. Many of them told me that it wasn’t even worth the pressure, and that instead of spending my time writing, then querying, then publishing, I should focus on things that other people my age were focused on. One of my closest friends even went as far as to tell me that she believed it was hopeless and that I should just give up. She did not want to see me get hurt, and so she felt that it was worth abandoning something that I was incredibly passionate about. The worry was not about whether or not the book would succeed or fail, it was a matter of whether or not the anyone would actually want to publish it. Though I continued to prove all of them wrong, it hurt to know these people were telling me to give up on my dreams, because it was easier to live a boring life, than a potentially exciting life where one may occasionally experience pain or discomfort.
The publishing process was not necessarily the difficult part in my case. In my case, it was learning to be resilient in the face of negative reviews or nasty remarks. If this process has taught me one thing, it is that at the end of the day, regardless of what anyone says to me, I have to look within for my happiness. If the goal of publishing was to gain the attention and love of everyone around me, I would have given up a long time, because that is not the case. At the end of the day, my opinion is really the only one that matters. It’s definitely nice to hear positive feedback from people who have already read the book, but those words should not become the defining factor, the be all and end all to my decisions. It’s a tough world to break into, and it’s incredibly difficult to stay afloat if the tiniest remark or query causes your boat to flood.
I’m not saying that it is in any way easy to bounce back after hearing negative remarks. One reviewer went as far as to beg me to ‘find another profession, because writing was obviously not my calling.’ It didn’t matter that I had received plenty of positive reviews from seasoned writers. That comment was like a stab in the gut, and for days after, all I could do was cry, and stuff my face with chocolate. It was not a pretty picture. But, I also realized that hundreds of people had gone through this kind of rejection, if not worse. My high school English teacher once told me that he framed the first rejection he ever received, because it meant he was a real writer. I have yet to frame the negative feedback and hang it on my wall to display, but I have definitely come a long way from lying in fetal position on my bathroom floor, crying my eyes out as though a boy just stomped on my heart. I can preach until tomorrow, but when it comes down to it, negative reviews suck. Still, I have learned, through many a harsh remarks, to bounce back and come up smiling.
This has been the greatest lesson in my young life thus far. How to chuck the negativity out of my life, in this sense and in many others. It’ll be quite a while before I can say that none of these things bother me, but I’m getting there.