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NOW WHAT, JULIA?
The tender moments after your book launch, shown through the characters Julia Roberts played, because why not?
ACT ONE: The Count down to the book release is on. I am feeling hopeful “how my book is doing” is not a question being asked yet. I am unbothered and in vacation mode. After returning from Italy, I am still full of pasta, pizza and wine. #dolcevita
I won't sugarcoat it. July has been hazy; I felt mixed emotions after my book came out for many reasons. I was on a high for reaching the anticipated date, June 13th, a day etched in my mind for the last year, the ultimate check off the to-do list and the low that came after, which shocked me a little since I was feeling vibrant and energized after returning from Italy. If I sit with it, it's unsurprising because I tend to focus on what didn't happen instead of everything that did and believe me when I say, A LOT of beautiful things happened and are still happening. I also didn't account for the grief that bubbled after it was released. I didn't notice it in true Ange fashion—more like I tried to ignore it. Another reason for the melancholy is that my sweet cousin is dying, and my mother is his primary caregiver since his father is mentally unable to, which has been hard on her. My cousin survived a near drowning when he was six and lives with brain damage from that time. He was a Paralympic weight lifter and skier in his younger years and has such a wicked sense of humour that I tear up from laughing when we are together. He is now in hospice care and doesn't have much time left.
Act TWO: There’s no going back, she’s out in the world, FOREVER AS IT IS, and she’s also not hitting #1 or #2, or #3…you get the idea.
My partner laughs and chalks up my focus on what "didn't happen" to playing too many competitive sports from a young age until the end of high school. It may also be being friends with mean girls in my formative years, but who knows? I'm always looking for what I could improve and hard on myself for not being #1, even if I did make it on the Amazon charts, even when I heard from my publisher that they were happy with our first month of the book being out, even when I made it onto the CBC non-fiction summer reads list. I was groomed to see the faults and my shortcomings as a woman, especially a neurodivergent one, but my resilience came from being a bench warmer at times and backstabbed by "friends."
Visibility/putting myself out there can be challenging at times, yet I deeply desire to get this book into the hands of the humans that need it, but what's also loud? My propensity is to fixate on those who don't like it or ruminate on why I didn't hear from certain people after sending them a copy. I get why people don't share their work and ask for support because a lot of shit comes up when you do. I know I am not the only writer who deals with these complex feelings of wanting to hide away after sharing their work and being scared it won't land as you want it to.
Act THREE: Me putting myself out there, feeling tender, doing interviews for the CBC across Canada, feeling proud of myself for facing more fears, talking about my dead people publicly and holding it together, sort of.
Because I shared a few personal stories in my book, the aftermath of seeing it in print turned into a vulnerability hangover, and it also most likely nailed a friend and ex-boyfriend's coffin shut when that wasn't the goal. Once you write about someone, even if you keep it to your experience, it's still attached to someone else who also had their experience of that time. I started to feel the pain of that—again. There is a reason I waited years to write about it. I wanted to ensure I wasn't writing from a wounded place; I had many people read it to ensure it didn't feel like an attack or read as self-indulgent, and still, it feels like the end for those relationships all over again, forever. Holding these humans in high regard as people I still care for, but no longer in a relationship with allowed me to write honestly about that time, and yet, I would have preferred repair and connection. I also wanted to normalize the messiness of our relationships as we grieve profound losses and to laugh alongside me at the ridiculousness of it all. A tender, broken hearts need to mind the gap of writing from a wounded place.
Act FOUR: It’s finally sinking in that my essays would be read by people that know me, and the people they are about are real and cared for by me, and I still feel sad about the outcome. Friend breakups suck.
Where I feel the most bummed, my book is strictly a Canadian title, meaning my publisher doesn’t have offices outside of Canada to sell in the States or other countries, so getting this book into the hands of more people takes a lot more work and based on my experience with self-publishing, most interest in my writing is in the United States. My saving grace is that some bookstores in Canada will ship to the US, but the shipping costs in more than some people are willing to pay. Order here
Act FIVE: Me realizing how much I care about my work as a writer and my confusion around the industry in general. I needed some TINKER BELL energy, STAT.
Having some time off from mundane living, a break from my job of massaging humans, and stuffing pasta and pizza in my face for ten days. Living carefree in Italy while also wondering if my book would help others, pondering things like "Will people understand why I structured the book like I did" I was thinking of a grieving brain. Will my book sell well? All those things were what-ifs, and now they are not. By Canadian standards, my book has landed well so far, but I still can't help but feel the faults. My book came out on June 13th; I did 14 back-to-back mini-interviews with the CBC, which I was proud of doing because I am unbearably shy and have the nervous system of a squirrel but seem to be becoming more like a confident house cat #proud.
Act SIX: Me getting support from my people, being honest about my experience, allowing all the mixed emotions to be felt and held and setting them free.
I have learned much about the book world and myself this last year. Being a writer has ups and downs. Being a first-time author does too. Not that long ago, I wouldn’t dare call myself a writer, and now I know I am and will be until I die. I also know that my dad would have been proud of what I have done in the four years since he’s been gone.
What I care about the most is that my book finds its way to the people that need it the most and that they find comfort in my words and stories and laugh at my expense for yelling at the propane man and emailing an ex but making my grief worse. I do my best work when I focus on doing things my way and not the industry way and not go by the typical measures of success. I must remind myself daily why I show up this way and continue putting myself out there even though it's hard.
Act SEVEN: Moving forward with newfound confidence, channelling Vivian Ward's tenacity and tenderness. Believing in myself no matter what and ready for whatever is coming next. The question "how my book is doing" is met with fucking GREAT.
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