With only weeks to go until my second book is published, I can't help but reminisce about my journey these past few years, especially since I'm also being asked what feels different this time around. So here’s what it feels like to publish a book.
Before I did this for myself, I sort of thought the whole experience was an ending of some kind. Holding the book—a real book in my hands—seemed like it was an arrival, a finishing. I was now part of a club I’d longed to be in for years. I was somewhere sturdy and permanent, that no one could take away from me. And while it's true, in one sense, that publishing a book does signal an ending of a journey, I've come to realize now that it's not actually an ending at all.
Here’s what I mean. The other night I was reading a book of poetry and when I closed it, the spine caught my attention.
I noticed the glue, how the pages were grouped together, and then thought of my own book at the printer, somewhere far off where I couldn’t touch it or change it. I could only wait.
It's a strange time, the weeks leading up to a book launch. It's a kind of liminal space, hovering between what was (the work I put in for the past two years) and what's to come (the reception, the reveal, the releasing).
Then, alarmingly—even though you know it’s coming—you’re ushered swiftly into The Season of Visibility, when your story is known to more people, you find yourself in the position of talking about yourself more frequently. You might want to hide under the covers. Other days, you’re ready to swipe on a coat of lipstick and meet your readers. Most of the time, I find myself somewhere in between. There’s a kind of curious trepidation, walking slowly into a bright, new world where there’s clearly a before and after thanks to a publication date circled on the calendar, but also a quiet introspection that pulls you inward.
Meanwhile, you are floating off somewhere, hovering around your book as it makes its own way. I have found myself feeling intimately connected to my work, yet somehow separate from it.
I think it works that way because once the book or the story leaves us, our real work is to start again. We now have permission to move on, to go right back to the beginning, to open a blank page and see what comes next.
So, what comes next for me? I’m figuring that out.
I've been writing poetry again, which is new after many many years away. Just having poems back in my life— my own poems—feels like a homecoming, and it's also exhilarating.
I'm also being pulled to what I think might become another book, a memoir that’s been on my mind for the past six years, but only in the shadows.Now I'm feeling that urgency more—not to rush into things and make any concrete claims about next steps, but to simply make space. To sit down and write through the memories, see if I can find a way into the story. Again, it feels a little bit like coming home, and also a little bit exhilarating. Also terrifying.
But that's the writer's life. That's the winding path we traverse over the years and right now, today, I'm incredibly grateful to be on it.
If you're waiting and hoping to publish a book one day, I hope you'll remember the truth, which is, the writing life is a journey. Books are certainly markers along the way, but once you write one, there will be more stories to tell, more writing caves to enter, and more emotional digging to be done.