I want to thank everyone who has sent me encouraging emails and thanked me for sharing my story. It brightens my day to know COULD HAVE BEEN HOLLY WOOD is already making a difference. I kept my attacks a secret for so long, I had no idea how many other people were out there just like me.
Many of you have asked for my advice on getting your own stories out in print. My suggestion is to write. Don’t worry about what it sounds like, or what other people will think. Don’t worry about writing your story in a particular order or remembering every single detail. Just write. Stephen King calls it going down into your basement. You want to tune out all of your inner critics. Once you get going, it gets easier.
When you’re done, you can worry about organzing, editing and making it readable for others. By readable I mean, looking at your work and asking yourself, okay, if I didn’t know me, would I understand what I’m trying to say here? Are my thoughts, motivations, and actions clear? Do I need to add more sensory details to help the reader feel this?
Throughout this editing process, it’s incredibly important to write what is true, to not worry about changing things to protect someone’s feelings or making yourself look better. It is truth that people relate to – truth in emotions and thoughts and reactions. It’s not always easy. I found that when it came to certain topics, I often didn’t understand my true feelings at first. There were days when I would rewrite a chapter three or four times just to figure out my own truth. It took some serious digging around my basement so to speak.
After you’ve written your story, it’s helpful to get feedback from the outside world. My first draft was a mess. I went to the Southern California Writer’s Conference and learned how to clean it up. I also met two incredible writers and we began exchanging chapters at least once a week to give each other support and lots of constructive criticism. Friends and family offered encouragement, including my very own cheerleader, Shelly Tegen, who also suffers from an anxiety disorder. On the days when I thought I was wasting my time (every writer goes through this by the way, it’s part of the process) Shelly pushed me to move forward.
The next step in getting your book published is getting it out there. After several rewrites, I took my completed manuscript to another writer’s conference and showed it around. I got some promising feedback and went home to work on my website, blog, facebook fan page etc. You need to show publishers that you have public interest in your book by creating and growing social media sites.
I wish you all lots of luck! Not everyone will get their stories in print, but that doesn’t mean it is not worth the effort. Most authors will tell you, the writing in and of itself is the most rewarding part of the journey. Thanks again for your emails. I didn’t realize it when I got started, but I know now – you’re the reason I wrote my story.