All the people in these pages
What a week! As most of you know by now, my debut novel Endpapers published on Tuesday! I’m excited to finally be able to share this story with you. In fact, you can now read an excerpt of it on LitHub as well as a personal essay about how writing a genderqueer novel helped me understand myself as genderqueer at Crime Reads.
It’s been an incredible whirlwind, and I’m overflowing with gratitude. So today I want to essentially recreate the thank you speech I shared at my launch party.
When my copies of Endpapers arrived in the mail about six weeks ago and I finally got to hold one in my hands, I of course thought about all the revisions and edits and years of hard work it took to get to this place. But what I saw when I looked at it was not just a book. It was a whole community.
Quick story: When I first started writing in earnest, I was working for an art journal and they sent me to an arts writers’ conference. One of the attendees asked me what I write, and trying to be friendly, I explained that I’m not an arts writer — I write fiction. She asked where she could read my work, and I said I hadn’t published anything yet. Her response: “Oh, you’re that kind of writer.”
I know. Awful, right?
I tell this story not to shame the person (okay, maybe a little), but to contrast her response with that of the larger writing community. Because when I told most of the writers I know that I was working on being a writer, they absolutely did not do that. They offered me advice, they read my work and gave me helpful feedback, they accepted me into their classes, mentored me, invited me into their writing groups and to their gatherings. They hired me to develop the program for Tompkins County’s beloved Spring Writes Literary Festival. They housed and fed me, helped me get grants, published my work, railed at the injustice of difficult rejections and celebrated every single yes with me. They traveled with me to writing conferences and cheered me on as I worked on long projects. They made films with me and spent time inside human-sized hamster balls (long story). Most of all, when I said I was a writer, they believed me, without asking me to prove it — even though I don’t have an MFA and had no idea what POV was when I started.
I’m not going to list anyone by name here — mostly because I’m terrified I’ll forget someone — but also because all of them are named in the acknowledgments in the book.
My point in sharing this with you is that writing is so often a solo activity. We labor away over notebooks and keyboards, stare out windows, and talk to ourselves. But ultimately, we must find our way to one another, because at the end of the day, it takes a community to teach us to write well and to get our work into the world.
As I ended with last time, I hope this week you’re feeling supported and offering support to someone else as well. I see every one of you, and I thank you for being on this crazy journey with me.
Until next time,
Thanks for reading First Draft! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
I love this so much! We are a strong community, and I am grateful to know you.