Once I was done writing the book, I didn’t touch it for months. Before I had finished writing, I had resolved to stick to that plan of regardless of how I felt once I actually wrote the last word. I got the idea from Stephen King’s brilliant book, “On Writing.” I believe his suggestion is 3-6 months before going back to it.
Before I ever experienced that moment for myself, I always thought it would be hard to wait and I’d want to do it immediately – that once I could see the top of the mountain, I’d be that eager to get there. I found that the opposite was true in my case, at least for this book. It took me eight years to write. I didn’t work on it every day during those years – there were months at a time that I did nothing, and had great excuses that at the time I even genuinely believed but were really about fear. But this idea sat with me every day for each of those eight years. And the challenge of writing it came with clearing the idea that my identity was wrapped up in being a writer and that if I wasn’t a commercial success, then it would mean that I was a failure as a human being. All of that was mentally exhausting, and once I was finally done with the book I was happy to leave it alone for a while.
I actually let it sit for about 10 months. I think this was good for me, because finally finding that self-acceptance was so monumental to me that once I had it, I felt like a drastically different person. I think on some level I knew this – and I think even before I reached that level of self-acceptance that the end of the book would also mean the end of that chapter of my life – but once I revisited the book after those 10 months, it was never more clear to me, and I needed that time and distance to be able to deal with it. Reading the words, it almost felt like a completely different person had written it.
Of course I changed a lot of things, with the luxury of a new and perhaps more mature perspective. This was crucial not to just publishing the book, but for my personal growth too. I grew to appreciate the person who wrote the book, a person I used to not like and think very much of. I realized that in spite of her struggles, she had been smart and fun and funny and really did a great job.
Once I had made the changes I was happy with, I sent it off to my friend Eric to edit. Eric is one of the best people you could ever hope to meet, and he offered to edit the book for free. He has an English degree and is very well-read; I figured I could do a lot worse for free, and again $0.00 was my maximum budget. I always knew I wanted to self-publish so the goal was never to get a publisher interested. (Choose Yourself!) Eric carefully and thoughtfully edited each and every page. Now, he also has a full-time job and a life, so all the work had to be done when he had time and I had to be patient. But the feeling I got when he texted me to let me know that the editing was finished was even better than the one I had when I wrote my very last word. It was time to share it with the world, for better or worse.