This cover is quite possibly the most frightening thing I’ve ever seen.
It’s also the most exciting.
The past nine months (that’s literal, folks – no exaggeration) have been devoted to editorial labors. The novel has been examined, dissected, operated on, and stitched back together.
I’ve read it so many times that the different drafts have started to blend together. My editor and I have hashed out plot lines, character development, endings, and wrap-ups. I’ve written probably a dozen back covers, quibbled over commas, and re-wrote a hundred page ending into a tidy twenty-page deal.
But it’s not only the novel that has grown-up. I have, too. At least, the process has moved forward. I feel like I'm starting to flourish where I used to flounder - like I've examined and edited myself almost as much as I have this novel. I’ve critiqued my life, my appearance, my demeanor, my carriage. I have learned so much in this year that it makes the last decade look like kindergarten.
And now it’s here. The culmination of a year’s work.
Actually, it's been more than just a year. Summer Shadows took a year and a half to write. Before that came a few months of initial outlines and brainstorming. Before that came other novels, stories, poems, and day-dreams. And before even that came the dream.
Even since I could read, I wanted to write. When I was seven years old, my brother and I collaborated on an illustrated fairy tale that was our Christmas gift to our family. I spent hours in the bookstore and library and book fairs. I spent longer reading. It came to the point that I judged everything that happened by how I could use it in a story. Broke my arm? Good for learning what it was like to be incapacitated. Need surgery on that arm two years later? Sweet – first-hand experience in a hospital setting. Road trips and stay-cations, work and play, film crews and co-workers, aggravations and triumphs. Everything was noted, examined, and stored away for future use.
“Someday,” I’d think. “I’ll be able to tell a story.”
My whole life was oriented towards that one goal. But there was a problem. I was afraid of it. I am afraid of it.
This book is terrifying – not because it is a horror story (rather the opposite), but because this is It. The first book. My first book. My secret is out, and I am exposed.
I’m a coward, in a way. If you’d asked me a year ago what I wanted to do with my life, I would have dodged the question. I’d have shrugged, made a vague answer, then given you my list of things I’d like to do: Travel. Own a cottage by a lake. Learn to tango. See how many Oreos I can eat in one sitting without getting sick. But I probably wouldn’t have verbalized the truth. Voicing it was too… risky. Saying out loud, "I want to be a writer," is opening up the goal to judgment, good or bad, but judgment nonetheless. And I feared that.
But now, after months of work, the secret’s out: I write. And this cover is proof that, not only do I write, but I’ve taken the stories and put them out there for others to see. Opening up a part of myself that’s been hidden for a long time and letting the light in. I’m torn between wanting to dance in the street and wanting hide in a remote cave.
It’s frightening looking at that book. Putting it out there is a leap of faith, an act of trust, the culmination of a lifetime of work. It’s scary and exciting, liberating and terrifying.
And totally worth it.
I guess that the thing about dreams. They call you up out of your comfort zone, demand attention and risk, and make you take what was once a pretty concept and put it into reality. They dare you to stand - and make you a better version of yourself when you do.
Yes, this book is the scariest thing I've ever seen. It's also one of the best things. Not because it's a great novel (although it is), but because it's my work and I'm proud of it. I probably won't get fame or fortune for it, but I saw it through and no one, no critic, can take that away from me.
So, if you've got a dream, go for it. There will be panic and strife, self-doubt and hard work, but in the end, none of that will matter. In the end, it's only you and the awesome reality you once called a dream.