After going through the process myself, I think that everyone should write a book at some point in their lives. I would say writing ‘Happily Never After’ was potentially one of the most life changing things I have ever done.
First of all, I had to learn how to depend on other people. It does not matter if you are the best writer in the world, you will always require an editor to see things you cannot. I am a bit of a control freak. I am not good at delegating work to other people, and I take pride in doing everything myself. I think it stems from growing up in a household where I was in charge of taking care of everyone else, and then myself, that I don’t know how to depend on, or trust, other people. However, as I started writing, I began realizing my deficits: I didn’t know anything about marketing on social media, I didn’t know anything about finding a reputable editor, I didn’t know anything about signing with an agent. So, I had to pull my sources, and ask for help. Now, there were certainly those who fell by the wayside; everyone is always so eager, and then for some reason, they don’t follow through, which, as a control freak, is always my greatest fear (and the reason I do everything on my own anyways), and I had to learn to release them, let them off the hook, and not feel disappointed. But, for the most part, the knowledge and expertise I received was humbling, and I was reminded that it truly takes a village; what it is today is a far off better product than it would have been had I done it all myself.
I learned to live for intrinsic value. Although never motivated by money, I have always been motivated by titles, by rewards, by fame and recognition. I wanted to make sure whatever I dumped my time into would have a equitable return, and if it didn’t, I wasn’t interested in it. At first, I was skeptical about writing the book in the first place, because I knew it would be time consuming, and the chances of it actually being published were slim; why would I dump that much precise time and energy into something that wasn’t a guarantee? But, writing the book has offered me so much that, even if it never reaches the public eye, it was so worth my time. For one, it was an extremely cathartic process. Memories came up that I completely forgot about, and I discovered associations I never saw before. My writing has significantly improved. I have gained and strengthened relationships with some of the most influential people. The way I view the world is completely altered. As it turns out, it was never a waste of time.
My endurance was significantly strengthened. I woke up one morning in July, and decided I needed to write a book. Unfortunately, school (and poms, and grad school) started about three weeks later, and all I wanted to do was write. And, publishing a book is quite the endeavorous process, because not only must I write the manuscript, I must also figure out how to get it published, update my blog, and market myself, all on top of working, coaching, and going to grad school. Because I had all these other previous obligations, I had to find other time to write. So, I got myself a notebook, and throughout my day, if I thought of something I wanted to write about, I would jot it down, and then furiously type it out when I got home. Some nights, I stayed up until midnight, only to wake up for practice at 5 AM, writing. Most weekends, I quarantined myself off to write. And, by October, the first draft was finally done. Thank goodness for my roommates, who cooked and cleaned for me while I was writing. Now, it feels as though anything I put on my plate is just a Sunday afternoon picnic.
I shifted my role. I used to be the girl who ran around in a half top, dancing in front of 80,000 people. And don’t get me wrong, I love being the center of attention, and I LOVED being known as ‘the dancer’. I loved straightening my hair on game days and fake tanning and feeling beautiful when I put on that lipstick. I loved the attention I got, the people I hung out with, and since writing my book, I have left that identity for something else. I found my voice. I remember standing in the artists’ square in Paris, and listening to the stories of Fitzgerald and Picasso and Hemingway, and completely identifying with them as an artist. The way I view and interact with the world has significantly shifted. I hold stronger opinions. It’s extremely difficult for me to engage in empty conversations, and I can’t be fake to people anymore. Sometimes, this can be off putting to people, but those are consequences I must face. I understand my purpose, I know myself better, I am able to regulate my emotions. I learned to trust myself. Some new personality traits have surfaced; I never realized how extremely protective I am, I never labeled myself as an introvert before, and I am for sure a full-fledged NERD. And, I love exactly who I have become.
Most importantly, I developed a stronger relationship with God. It is absolutely true that everything that has made up this book came from God: the title, the people I encountered, the stories I told, the editors I used, the conferences I attended, the specific rejections from the agents. When I look back on it, everything that has ever happened to me has lead me to this point, and I keep going back to read my manuscript and thinking, “Where did this idea come from?! I don’t even know that word!” It came from God.
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