Shortly after Christmas, I got a card from my new friend (but long-time idol) Sherri Shepherd. She signed the card with the words, "Melanie, Write that book, girl! Sherri"
Now, at the time I got the card, the book Sherri was talking about was a yet-to-be-written book of corny one-liners I'd spewed forth on Twitter. She knew nothing of the fan fiction monstrosity I'd been working on for weeks, nor would she ever know about it, if I had my say.*
But I took Sherri's words to heart and even if I wasn't working on the story she had in mind, I was using my creativity and, to me, that was the most important thing at the time: not letting my creative juices stop flowing. I cranked out my "book" in a matter of a few months, taking time along the way to read other people's books: Janet Evanovich (yes, all fifteen books in her Stephanie Plum series), Jen Lancaster's My Fair Lazy, the entire Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer (yes, again. Don't judge me.) and even Sherri's book, Permission Slips. Evanovich made me laugh hysterically (waking my husband up many nights in a row), Lancaster helped me figure out how I wanted to get my own memoirs put together, Meyers distracted me with buff cougarbait and sparkly vampires and Sherri gave me permission for, among other things, reading other people's books instead of concentrating fully on my own writing.
Okay, actually, Sherri gave me more than that. She gave me permission to "do it scared."
And that's what I'm doing.
When I first completed my book, I made the decision not to share it publicly or go through the agonizing job of rewriting it to exclude certain characters & scenarios for the sake of publishing. My book was a "practice pancake." Its sole purpose was to soak up all the junk in the proverbial pan, ultimately preparing me for the "better pancakes" later on. I'd get my groove as a writer, figure out what worked & what didn't, play with humor and drama and learn to balance the two. And like any practice pancake, it would be tossed away when I was ready to cook the real thing.
I've changed my mind.
After having shared my book with a few people, some in the literary world, some just enthusiastic readers, I've decided that I do want to rewrite it and take the steps necessary to submit it for publishing. Of course, what you don't know is that I don't know what the hell those steps are. That's right - and I don't have the first clue what I'm doing. Guess I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.
I'm not Jen Lancaster, Janet Evanovich, Stephenie Meyer or even Sherri Shepherd, but that's ok. I'm the best damn me I can be. And I think that's enough to sell some books.
I'm scared shitless that I'm going to fail, but I can't afford to let fear get the best of me. I've had a story to tell (and by "a story," I mean hundreds) since I was in 2nd grade and used to get smiley face stamps on all my creative writing assignments. I've been told for years that I'm a good writer and I believe that. It's not easy for me to admit my good points (I've spent far too many years exploiting my bad ones), but I really think I can do this.
And I'm doin' it scared. So, thanks Sherri for reminding me I don't have to know what I'm doing in order to do it well.
*Apparently I didn't have the final say, because Sherri's got a copy of the monstrosity, too. Damn, she's persuasive!