I published my first book a year ago, on this very day; I wasn’t thinking right. I published it because I didn’t know what else to do with it. It was like one of those scenarios where you just want to get things off your chest. I wanted to get a book off my laptop. My book was rusting beneath files of essays, journals, lab reports, and textbooks.
I didn’t know what I was supposed to do. How do I get a book published? How do I contact agents? How do I reach publishing agencies? So, I did what any normal person would do. I cried. I cried more than I wrote because it was the easy way out. Because there was something comforting about closed doors, I didn’t have to worry about what was on the other side.
I didn’t write to get myself published. I wrote as a way of relieving stress, as a way to cope with the anxiety bubbling inside of me. It helped until I was starting to fail my classes because I wasn’t paying attention to them. I failed physics and then Organic chemistry and I ended up dropping them both last minute. I would open my textbook, lay it across the table and stare at it until my eyes would hurt. I just couldn’t force myself to read. While taking down notes, in class, I would start scribbling in my notebook, writing poems that no one would ever read.
It was anxiety that stopped me from studying. Imagine having a huge elephant sitting on your chest and you can’t explain it to anyone. Or imagine feeling like the walls of the classroom are shrinking and you’re suffocating. The pounding headaches, the tensing, the stressing and the losing weight. The more I suffered the more I wrote. Most of my pages and notebooks were filled with meaningless incoherent words. I would ignore everyone, skip classes, go to the library, sit on the carpet in between the shelves and I would write. Cry and write. Because I didn’t know why I was feeling this way. Why was an Honor roll, Arista student, who never got below a ninety struggling with passing a class? I loved physics and calculus but solving even the simplest equations seemed so complicated. I wanted to drop out so badly, but I didn’t and that caused more damage. There was one thing I learned though: when you suppress yourself just to fit in, you wreck a beautiful part of yourself and that’s what I did. In my effort to please everyone around me, I forgot who I actually was. I was pretending to be someone I wasn’t, and in that process, I forgot how many masks I was wearing. I’ve realized that now…
I’m odd. Weird. A freak. But this is just how I am. Abnormal. Clumsy. And I’m okay with that.
I’m peeling off my masks, and I’m redefining everything. I’m losing friends, being hated, but I’m learning to accept this part of myself. I’m okay with it. I think.
But through all that depression, all that anxiety and all those panic attacks, I wrote a 90,000-word page novel with grammatical errors and an ugly cover. I put it on Amazon and it was horrible. I had so many errors and the people who were supposed to have my back never told me. I have such awesome friends.
But the people I didn’t know and never met were more supportive. They gave me feedback and constructive criticism. I took down my book, got it professionally edited, made a new cover and I put it back up again.
In this whole process of burning and reforming, there is so much I learned. The most important lesson was to never give up. Fuck the world- but don’t back down.
But that day, a year ago, I promised myself that I wouldn’t back down, not even if the earth rumbled or the sky broke apart. It didn’t matter if no one read what I wrote. I would write because it makes me happy. Because it’s an escape from this world, into a world that runs on the tips of my fingers.
Link to my book on Amazon: The City of Saints