Today I’m going to give a behind-the-scenes look at how I wrote my book, what it was really like, why I’m sharing my story and a little back-story on how it came to be in the first place.
Through a friend, I found out about this course. The best part? Kathy, the course creator, was looking for beta-testers and I got in just before the course to begin. I submitted my application and was accepted and the rest is history. The end.
Ha! Just kidding! I had no idea what I was signing up for – I really didn’t.
The course started January 2nd, 2017. Which meant I had just a few weeks to go before my pipe dream of someday writing a book would begin to come to fruition. I was super-excited to finally have a roadmap and guide to get this sucker off my heart.
What followed, however, was three months of heart-wrenching work, tons of self-doubt monsters creeping up, and a lot of hair pulling and stressful days. Also during this time, our youngest had her tonsils and adenoids out, we found out our oldest has a heart defect, and I decided I would take an online business course (which lead to my recent launch of The Unleashed Creative). Then, as you’ll later read, I experienced a great loss.
Although writing a book seems like an easy thing to do for celebrities or well-known people who pump out book after book, it’s really not as glamorous for probably 99.9% of self-publishers. Self-publishers don’t have ghost-writers, connections at big publishing houses, or, generally speaking, the platform to know that: hey, if I write this book, my celebrity-ism will sell it.
For most first-time little people (like me), it’s a long, painstaking process and the feeling that once it’s written, it’s also our job to sell and market it. It’s a huge undertaking I completely underestimated.
Is it any wonder so many people dream of writing a book their entire lives?
It seems anything I’ve ever pursued in my life, I’ve been quite naive about, though. Often, I reflect back and think, had I known the work (and investment) required, I may not have ever done it in the first place.
I tend to dive head first into projects/endeavors and learn really tough lessons along the way. lol! But, I do embrace the trait of not being afraid to try anything. It’s a trait I’m trying my darndest to pass on to my kids, too.
It’s in the process of trying that we grow. Writing this book had me stretching in ways I hadn’t imagined. Had I known what would lie ahead, I likely would not be writing this blog post now. For my naivety – I am grateful. lol!
How I Wrote My Book
For three months I plugged away with my iPad and Scrivener. I struggled for the first several weeks until I read a few posts on becoming a morning person by Michael Hyatt, which were helpful motivators and made me challenge myself.
I had to look at it from the angle that the cost of not being productive with my writing meant I would fall behind in the class and that couldn’t happen. I was already going to bed semi-early…how hard could it be?
Rising by 5:30 am was the best thing for my book writing. It was my most productive time of day – before kids, distractions, and other obligations. I still get up early, some days earlier than others, depending on what I need to get done.
The course was exactly what I needed. The steps were modules and a week at a time. It was the perfect set-up for someone like me with no clue where to start.
One of the first things I did was brain dump and mind map my book.
Along the way, there also were certain things I invested in and had to research on my own. For example, although not a requirement, I chose to give Scrivener a try. I had vowed to start my book the previous October (before knowing about the course) and purchased the desktop version. Obviously, I didn’t get too far on my own. So, after getting into the course, I purchased this course on how to use Scrivener and the iOS app for use with iPad and Dropbox. (*course affiliate link below – so well worth it to get the most out of Scrivener)
What I Didn’t Expect
A few things I didn’t anticipate when I applied for the course:
- The variation of the expense of an editor. Mine was well worth it but they’re not all created equal.
- The variation of the expense of a cover design. There are certainly cheap (even free) options out there. Consider the book cover your look on a first date. You wouldn’t wear pajama’s, no makeup, and go two days without showering beforehand. I knew I wanted professionally done and polished. Which leads to 3.
- ISBN. Buy yours if you even think you’ll write more than one book. It’s how every book you write connects to you and gives you the opportunity to be picked up by a traditional publisher. They’re not cheap – $250 for 10. You only need one, unless you make bigger changes to your book, then you need to assign a new one. Buy bulk – it’s cheaper.
- All the things you didn’t know you didn’t know. I’ve learned soooooo much. I’m eternally grateful for the course; it was a major starting point. But there was also so much more to learn. Maybe because I don’t go half-ass into anything and secondly because I can become a slightly obsessed researcher.
- Marketing and Selling a Book; a course all by itself. It’s a beast of a task. And a fun behind-the-scenes I learned: #1 best-selling author is somewhat a joke. I could tout the same thing if I had a crap-ton of people purchase my book all at the same time. Rankings are updated hourly. If enough people purchased at one time, I could hit #1 for my categories. And that’s the keyword: categories. Most books you see rankings for, it’s for that specific category. At one point, I was at #121 for paperbacks in my chosen categories and #60-something for Kindle in my categories….and this is out of millions. Not quite #1 but honestly, I wrote this for more than rankings and sales. As I write this, I still don’t even know how many sold as that’s behind in updating.
What I Learned
So…what did I learn? The big, golden-nugget takeaway from my experience? The one piece of advice I can share that I gleaned from this experience that may give you the courage to pursue something burning in your heart now?
Anything that gives you deep sadness about not doing – is worth doing.
Not exactly a bombshell, I know.
Let me put it this way.
Think about something, in your heart that, when you think about that thing, you feel an excitement and positive energy – a feeling that moves you from the inside out….
Now, imagine yourself at age 90 sitting on your rocking chair. Reflect back on your life and feel the feeling when you think about how you didn’t do that thing that burned in your heart for so long.
That was my motivation. The thought of getting to the end of my life and having never done it was enough for me.
Also, I know there are a lot of hurting hearts out there. Everyone has a story. Every. Single. Person. No one is immune to grief.
Why I Wrote This Book
Childhood grief into adulthood lacks stories. I found this when I was doing my market research. There are plenty of books out there written by spouses who lost their husband/wife. There are also plenty of books out there written by parents who’ve lost children and likewise, adult children who’ve lost a parent (as an adult). What I couldn’t find, however, were many examples of the impact of childhood grief into adulthood. I also wanted to write the kind of book I wish my mom would’ve read.
We don’t know what we don’t know. If I can help make the future of a grieving child better because their grieving parent read my book, then – mission complete. I cannot imagine losing my spouse while raising our children. Likewise, I can’t fathom what my mom went through.
I feel children are the forgotten griever’s because children simply don’t grieve like adults. More importantly, often may not deal with it until adulthood. Trust me when I say – they will carry it their entire lives and eventually it will hit them like a freight train.
Unlike an adult who may not experience grief until adulthood and has a fully developed brain to help make sense of it all, a child who experiences grief is still developing and growing.
A child is forever changed in every way and may appear fine on the outside. They may act out or exhibit other emotional outbursts, too. But I imagine, without therapy, it would be chalked up to a kid just being a kid. With guidance and therapy, grief doesn’t have to consume a child into adulthood their entire life.
This book is me finally closing the grief chapter of my life. It’s been a life-changing experience and I get goosebumps when I sit down and truly think about how it all came to be.
How it came to be….
This book came about because of a phone call with an entrepreneur I knew of but had never spoken to before about a topic unrelated to me wanting to write a book. I think it was about brain fog, of all things. lol!
In the conversation, I mentioned my book-writing goal and she told me about Kathy’s beta course.
I have not spoken on the phone with this entrepreneur since, which is the crazy part. As if that conversation was simply meant to happen. Coincidence? I think not.
God’s Divine Timing
Also not a coincidence, on August 24th (3 months prior to the book course) I opened the door to a hospital room. Inside, was my uncle, a man I hadn’t seen or spoken to in nearly 30 years. I had found out not long before that he had brain cancer. After my father (his brother) passed away nearly 30 years earlier, for reasons I chalk up to decades of resentment and misunderstandings, my father’s family and my immediate family cut off all communication.
I had a choice. I chose to open the door to my past, not knowing if I would be accepted with open arms and if so, also opening my heart to another loss all over again. It’s a decision that changed my life.
During that time, I also had one visit with my aunt (his wife) and even met a cousin I was previously too young to remember, as well as my uncle’s daughters. Tragically, after a short time after my visit with my aunt, she passed away at home, while her husband was in assisted living receiving cancer treatments. I had one visit for which I will be forever grateful.
Several more visits followed with my uncle and cousins. It was the most healing six months of my life. On February 28th, one month and three days prior to the 30th anniversary of my father’s passing and less than two months into writing my book, my uncle passed away. And there I was, after feeling the closest to my father than ever before and reconnecting and mending my broken past, I was grieving all over again.
I believe, had I written the book sooner, it would have turned out very differently. The additional loss of my aunt and uncle (specifically), greatly influenced the emotion poured into the book.
I believe, with all my heart, there was a higher power at work.
The great psychotherapist, Viktor Frankl said, recounting his experiences in Auschwitz during WWII, “what is to give light must endure burning.” Mark Neilsen adds in a passage of Living Faith, “Perhaps the fire within you only smolders today, but with God’s grace, it can come to flame.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.
If you made to the end of this post, bless your heart! 😉 Thank you for reading.
P.S. Did you find this inspiring? If so, let me know! Or, share it with someone who you know has a fire burning within them (or maybe even a story waiting to be written)!