I know a lot of writers complain about the submission process. It’s probably something readers are sick of hearing, but it’s a thing that happens, and it’s sort of hard to leave that bit out when we report our daily machinations. Maybe if I frame it in a “why I’m an indie” sort of story, it won’t come off as whiny or boring.
Writing has always been my thing. Whether it was journaling, poems, or short stories, making words was always part of what made me. I mean, I wasn’t a protege or anything, but I learned to read early, before kindergarten, if I remember correctly, and writing stories came soon after. Some of that may have been out of sheer boredom–I was an only child for nine years and the eldest of the grandchildren which meant I was constantly shooed out of the room when “the grown folks were talking.”
This still happens to some degree, but I digress…
I remember making vivid storylines for my Barbies. I didn’t have a Barbie Dream House so I built an apartment building out of old shoe boxes and the plastic crates I kept my toys in. I remember seeing the movie Brewster’s Place when I was fairly young and thinking, “Hey, this is like what I’m doing with my Barbies!” or some such foolishness. Anyway, storytelling came naturally to me.
In middle and high school I wrote a ton of poetry (like every angsty teen does), but after I had graduated, writing fell by the wayside for more practical things like motherhood and survival. It wasn’t until I was a married, stay at home mom that the need to fill my boredom with stories returned. This happened around 2007.
I wrote a lot of shitty stories back then. I have a file on Google Docs to prove it. But amongst all of that garbage, the seed for In Her Closet began, back then it was called Her Haberdashery–you know, like a men’s clothing shop? That title was later ditched because what the fuck is a haberdashery? But anyway, I found a little site called WeBook and a writing challenge called NaNoWriMo and I wrote it. The end result was around 45k. So short of the 50k goal, but it was my first book! So YAY and all that jazz.
The first iteration of In Her Closet was thin. I shied away from the sex. I used language that didn’t speak to the character, and it was in the third person–all the things that you are told to do in a creative writing class. I knew it needed…something. It needed more. But I was convinced that it was good, so I started submitting it.
Why in the name of Black Jesus did I do that?
Talk about a soul-crushing process.
The best thing to come out of all of this was learning to decipher the legalese in publishing contracts.
Here’s a tiny gem, kids.
Learn how to read a fucking contract. Buy a book, read a website, do whatever the fuck you need to do. If you don’t, it will bite you in the ass later, I guaran-fucking-tee you. If you don’t know the basics of reading a contract, it will leave you open to victimization. You don’t want that. You want to be assertive and sure when you challenge a publisher’s bullshit.
So, yeah. I submitted In Her Closet, and I got lots of feed back. I added words. I deleted words. I made Yves more or less black/latina. During this process, I found an author co-op that seemed like a good fit. It proved not to be the best fit. A year later, I joined another author co-op. That sucked as well. When I decided to self-publish, it was with little fanfare because there was only a tiny bit of knowledge on the process at the time. A bloated version In Her Closet languished on Amazon, no sales, no reviews. It was like the book didn’t happen.
Then I joined a writer’s group.
Listen. Being a member of a writer’s group is the best thing to ever happen for a newbie writer. You submit your work to people who may or may not read your genre, and you get constructive feedback. You eliminate, adjust, explain things that were previously crippled by your singular view. It is INVALUABLE. And that’s what I got from my writer’s group. My writer’s group transformed the bloated bit of writing I had then into the three (possibly four) part series that I have now. It changed the game.
So I say all this to say…I like writing this way. I like writing my heart song. I like having a communion of like souls to read my writing and know what it means. I like knowing that I can be myself everywhere and in everything and not have to worry about ostracizing my readers.
I LIKE BEING INDIE.
And I don’t see that changing anytime in the foreseeable future. I will continue to write these super angsty, deep, controversial, filthy books and I hope that you guys are willing to take that journey with me. I may submit shorter works to established publishers, but you guys can rest assured that all of the good, gritty, filthy stuff will come straight from Dirtyscribbler Press (that’s me, by the way).
AND THAT IS ALL I HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THAT.