The month of July has been all about writing: podcasts, blogs, and editing my upcoming memoir, What Ronnie Sue Knew: recalling a life of love and sparkle.
I consider myself in phase one of setting up my future as an author. I’m not ready to quit my day job yet, but I have become more ensconced in and enamored of the writing process. Even before COVID-19 started, I’ve been writing; blog articles about things like parenting and adult gymnastics, mainly. I started to craft a teaching memoir about five years ago at the behest of one of my students. Thinking, “Sure, why not?” I began to journal twenty years worth of experience; how I got started, people I’ve met, things I’ve learned along the way. Every so often, I’d come back to it, whenever I had something significant to add. Heck, I just recently finished a long chapter about teaching in a pandemic.
Even with all of the random writings in my computer, and the teaching memoir increasing its page and chapter count, I didn’t really consider myself an author. I was just someone who writes – until the pandemic and George Floyd’s murder. That’s when things started to break open and a new vision of who I am emerged.
In response to the social unrest this country experienced in the spring of 2020, I curated a collection of my friends’ and students’ feelings, mostly people of color and largely posted to social media, related to what was happening nationwide. That piece resulted in the docudrama How Do We Feel Right Now?, which I produced that December with my drama students and self-published on Amazon in April, 2021.
That process was the beginning of my entry into the publishing world, and unlocked a door that I never knew I could open. Publishing a play, getting it copyrighted, purchasing an ISBN, proudly opening the box that contained my printed paperback, tracking sales and royalties – I was immersed in something new and exciting. Still in the baby pool of publishing, but getting my feet wet nonetheless.
In the past year, I’ve started to dig into what being an author really means to me. I’m trying to distill what I have to say, how I can share what I’ve learned from my experience, and how I can get more people to pay attention and benefit from the things I’ve learned; trying to do all this from written words on a page. How do I tie all of my interests together so I can package and market myself and my work?
This is what I am looking at now. I’m creating content based on what I know and love, and sorting it all out as I go. In order to have a marketing strategy, I have to have things to market. I’ve joined Facebook groups about writing and seeing where other people are in their process. I’m talking to others who have published or have been in publishing. I’m learning about Fiverr, developmental editing, formatting, and how many people are offering services to make your book shine. It is a quagmire, for sure, but one I am navigating one step at a time.
Enter book #2: memoir #1
Since September, 2020, when my mom succumbed to the devastation of a four-year battle with the bitch called cancer, I’ve been writing a memoir as a tribute to her life and what she taught me. Do I cringe at the thought of capitalizing on her passing? To be honest, a little bit. However, I think it’s more important to focus on the fact that this woman who I love so dearly is going to be memorialized forever, in a way that I feel is fitting to her magnificent life. If I can’t have her with me on this earth, then I can share my memories of her with anyone who cares to read it. In addition, I can share my experience of working through grief – something that I think is valuable to everyone.
The one piece of advice I keep seeing, particularly from my editor Shaundale Rénā is, “Keep writing.” Since the school year ended and summer break started, this is what I have kept in mind.
Whether it’s writing and recording a podcast episode (check out A Moment of Mindful Meditation), finding something to blog about on my website, or further developing the 2 (actually, 3) memoirs on my computer, I have dedicated lots of time to flexing the writing center of my brain.
I will continue to look for opportunities to express myself and hone in on the gems of knowledge and experience I really want to share with others. Now that I’ve jumped on the writing train, I don’t want to get off. I’m buckled in and ready for the adventure to continue.
One of my mentors, a wise woman, recently said to me, “Feel good about what you are doing.” I do, Amanda. Thank you for that very important reminder.