I recently had a family member ask me if I thought self-publishing was worth it. Then came the real life plot twist and all the potential drama. I find it ironic, in hindsight, that trauma and drama sound similar. Well, here it goes. Hopefully this is less painful for you than it is for me.
I'd had weeks of stress as I worked hard to look for any mistakes, made final tweak after final tweak, organized and formatted for print and then e-book, and I added content I had forgotten about (the bio, character pronunciations, and the photo at the end). Then, I had PayPal issues on my end when I launched my second book Sir Ryac and the Dark Mage.
It was a lot of stress, but I have no regrets. The book turned out amazing, thanks to my spectacular husband (and publisher) and my wonderful editor, Cara Trent. I'm also thankful to my beta readers and my writing friends.
I had replied that I wouldn't be published otherwise (not yet at least as it can take a lot of time for a major publishing place to respond, and the usual response is NO). I'd just have a book on a computer or a flash drive. No one would read it or know about it. Self publishing is a lot of work, but it's worth having the work out there.
I said all of that before I remembered that I needed to be the one advertising the book, which means talking about the story and also what inspired it. Can't hide behind someone else's advertising choices when it's all done in-house.
All has been well and good. Only thing is, I haven't been advertising the book. How could I tell people about it when I could get in trouble for what I say? If I talk about the motivation or inspiration, I feel that I either have to lie or avoid the topic, or I run the risk of making people unhappy.
My recently published book, Sir Ryac and the Dark Mage, is about an abused child lashing out. I pulled a lot of that from my childhood. I was abused, both physically and mentally. Those hardships and lessons had a way of making it into the book. Not verbatim, mind you. Sure, there is at least one direct quote in there from my main abuser and a few direct references to other things, but it's not a biography. It is fiction.
Now comes the dreaded part. The book is published, but I feel like maybe I'm an AH for trying to promote it. If I share any memory that shaped a scene or inspired a moment, it's not likely going to go over well with family. But, people love knowing about the inspiration behind things, particularly if it's a story behind the story. Oh, and drama. People love it when there's drama. I mean, just look at the rise of Karen memes and bridezilla stories. Stories are how we connect.
There's 2 things about this that make me feel like I may have pushed the petty bar a bit and reached over into AH territory. Make that 3, once this post is published.
My cousin may or may not know this. He was there this Thanksgiving when I told family members he was in the book. I would tell him to his face, so I don't care if he knows. He'll be fine.
Anyway, my cousin decided to be an ass during a family gathering and talked smack about my writing or else my chosen career path. It was a joke at my expense. Anyway, I don't remember the words, I just remember the "Ah, hell no!" reaction I had. So, you want to be an ass, I'll make sure the world sees you as an ass. His only saving grace was that I sensed, or else I perceived, that he was teasing me and he didn't actually mean to hurt my feelings. Maybe. And I do mean maybe. He did end up in the book, after all.
They don't share medical information with one another unless they have to. Like, if someone is in the hospital dying, people in the family may or may not hear about it. Hell, last year someone went in and nearly DIED, and I heard about it in retrospect. I assume they are fine now, but no one shares anything. Even when I was on talking terms with most of them, I had similar moments of "Wait, who almost died?"
As you probably guessed from point 2, that's a no no. But I'm already not talking to people, sooooo, are they gonna somehow be extra silency? I mean, the last message I sent my dad was on Father's Day 2020. Not a peep. Heard a few words, curt formalities, during his mother's funeral. Oh, and I was offered leftovers when no one else would take them. Sooooo. *Shrugs
I pulled A LOT of pain and abuse from my childhood to write my latest book. I also pulled from HIS childhood. Because, let's be honest, a bully often becomes a bully because they were bullied. And that's what my dad was. A bully who had started out as a victim.
The book was an odd thing to write. I wrote it, dissing on my asshole of a cousin, but also as a therapeutic way of dealing with childhood trauma, both the emotional and the physical. It was a great way to safely explore how a child can go from being bullied to becoming the bully. And it was fun toying with the way a story can impact a life. Well, I'll stop there as I don't want to ruin the ending.
And there you have it. I did it. I shared the inspiration behind my latest story. If you know me well enough, you might even be able to discern what was made up and what wasn't. Or, maybe you've heard me venting enough to know what inspired a scene or description. If this somehow blows up in my face with upset family members coming at me for 'ruining' someone else, I'll be sure to seek the AITAH people of Reddit to see if I went too far or if they're the AH.
With the future unknown, I wish you all the best! May your adventures be many and your inspiration be endless! Though, I hope your inspiration is of the happier and less dramatic nature.
So, I did want to give some of the ending away. For those like me who were abused or who simply have high anxiety and just want to know if the story ends well, I can tell you that it does. It isn't quite the Matilda ending, but I'd say it has a similar feeling of relief and closure. Stories may mirror reality, but they don't have to be bound to the truth.