If I had known eighteen months ago what I know now, I don’t think I would have embarked on this journey. Don’t get me wrong, I love writing and I still would have written my story…but it would have been for my eyes only, for a couple of reasons.
When I started my novel, I was under the impression that the hard part would be writing a full length novel that would capture and keep the attention of a reader. I felt that I had a compelling and moving story to tell, and that all I had to do was give it some love and a quick spell check and viola’, I was done. Yes, I was that naive.
I was also under the misconception that because I thought my story was a good one, and quite frankly, so did a few of my friends that graciously offered to read it, so would a publishing house. Yes, I was that naive.
I found a few houses that were accepting open submissions (you don’t have to have an agent) and jumped for joy at the chance to show my stuff. I polished my hook, my pitch, my query, and honed my cover letter to perfection with the intent of “wowing” an agent or publisher. Yes, I was that naive.
Eighteen months later, I’m older and a lot wiser. As a matter of fact, as I look back on it, the sheer lack of knowledge about what I was actually trying to do is staggering.
Ah well…I did in fact write my first full-length novel. I found a few traditional publishing houses, including The Writer’s Coffee Shop (Fifty Shades fame) that were accepting open submissions (no pun intended). With files polished and ready for submission, I perused the application process of each and felt my heart-break each time I got mid-way through the requisite requirements for submitting a finished manuscript.
I was devastated after reading about a third of each application. When I got to the subject matter portion, halfway down the page, I knew I was doomed in the traditional publishing arena.
Funny, you can write three novels detailing the ins and outs of BDSM, leaving nothing to the imagination (good for her…truly!) but you can not write in detail about child sexual abuse! Go figure! No wonder we, who have survived it live in shame and secrecy. We hide our hideous experiences and live in darkness. We suck it up and fumble through an existence, trying to make relationships both personal and professional work, because that is what is expected of us…so that’s what we do. It’s much like the military’s policy on gays…”we won’t ask, but you don’t tell.”
I spent the next few months researching self-publishing. I went with Createspace, an Amazon company. My naivety about writing and spell-check slapped me into reality, real quick. After four edits, five chapter re-writes, and seven re-reads I have a product I’m quite proud to call my debut novel.
My Prison Without Bars: The Journey of a Damaged Woman to Someplace Normal is my own story of abuse, but written as a fictional novel, not a memoir. I wanted an ending, a closure if only in my mind. I also didn’t feel I had anything profound to impart, as one usually does in a memoir. I lived it. I survived it. It is what it is. Each person must find their own way out of the darkness. The only advice I can give to anyone is to TELL! Tell any and everyone who will listen, as often and as loudly as you have to, until someone believes you and guides you to help. You can also click here for the RAPE, ABUSE, AND INCEST NATIONAL NETWORK or RAINN for short.
Now I’m entrenched in the hard part…marketing my work. There are no directions or maps for this part of the journey. I stuff my email inbox forwarding links from helpful sites and blogs in the hopes that I can glean a tidbit here and a morsel there that can guide me where I need to go.
I have met some of the most generous and giving people in the world. The indie community is phenomenal! But at the end of the day, I still sit here alone in front of a screen, often lost or frustrated that I can’t do it like other indie-authors do. I’m slowly getting the hang of Social Media, but a long way from savvy.
My website…well see for yourself. It’s definitely a work in progress. But I did it without knowing the first thing about computers or the self-publishing. Will it win any blogging awards? Probably not. Thousands of followers…I’m betting no. But, I have shown my twenty-one and seventeen year old daughters that you can start from nothing, have a dream, start a journey, and dare anyone to block your path. This, above all else, is what I’m most proud of…showing my girls what perseverance and determination can do. What a lesson to teach your children!
Now, a week away from my official book launch on Amazon.com (December 17, 2012) I sit and reflect on all that I’ve accomplished and all that is ahead of me. I’m excited and full of self-doubt and fear all at the same time…I suppose most writers are. But my reasons are different from most. This novel represents full disclosure of a secret, and there in lies the fear. Even if only a few read my story, my secret is out, and that my friends will alter my life irrevocably. I’m not just figuring this out now, I assure you. It’s just very real to me as my launch date approaches.
A portion of my story is graphic and disturbing. I make no apologies for that. It is as naked as I’ll ever be. Abuse is suffered alone, in a dark and lonely place. The darkness grows like a festering wound just under the surface of the skin…out of sight but spreading deeper and deeper into the surrounding tissue. I’m done with shame and secrecy and the darkness that comes part and parcel with it. I want to share my story and come out into the light. It isn’t my intent to offend or be grotesque, I just want you to see and feel through the eyes of a once lost child…the child that was me.
♥ If you’d like to read an excerpt from my book go to my home page and click on the Prologue and Chapter 1 tabs.