Reflection: What it Means to Publish
For as long as I can remember, I've carried around a notebook. The one which stands out most vividly in my mind is the one I had when I was 10: it was white with a puppy on it wearing a cartoon crown and "holding" a wand. My notebooks were filled with fragments of stories - scenes that popped into my mind, characters I wanted to explore, and the beginnings of worlds I wanted to create.
The first "book" I wrote was called The Story of the Unicorns. It's a story I wrote under pine trees during summer camp, on my family's PC, in my bed with only the purple lights hanging in my room for illumination. I wove in themes and moments from my favorite books: I added in a dragon when I read Eragon; started calling my characters a fellowship when I read Lord of the Rings. It was a wide-ranging narrative where my main character, a priestess named Aria, explored an entire island, visiting wood elves in the northern forests and the seaside villages of the southern plains. I still have the book (a 200+ page narrative) saved and look at it sometimes for inspiration.
I remember the day I finished it, I marched over to my mom and announced that I was going to get it published (remember: I'm 11). She very gamely read it and gave me feedback. What did I do? I dived right back in, rewriting the entire first half of the book with my newfound knowledge. My goal was still to publish, to become a famous author, and to be able to spend my entire life exploring fantastical worlds which existed solely in my brain.
Obviously, The Story of the Unicorns remains unpublished, but I still look back at that whole time period to keep myself focused. Writing has been a passion for me for as long as I can remember. Reading fantasy and seeing strong female characters in fantasy changed my life for the better. My goal with writing is to be able to give others the same feelings I read when I discovered my favorite books: the sense that the world is endless, that no matter what's happening in life, you will make it through.
Two and a half years ago, I went to the local Barnes and Noble with my boyfriend. Bookstores have been my favorite place since as long as I can remember - when I was little, I spent hours sitting in a corner with stacks of books around me. I staggered to the front of the store, my arms filled to bursting with new adventures and worlds to explore. No matter where I am, bookstores feel like home.
At the Barnes and Noble, we went back to the fantasy and sci-fi section. I was browsing through the books, trying to decide what to pick out, when my boyfriend pulled me over. He was standing by the "S" section, and he pointed to the shelf. "You're going to be right there some day," he told me, giving me a tight hug. At that point, I wasn't sure. I'd been working on this book (what is now Summer Twilight) for a while, but I hadn't quite figured out where it was going. To be honest, I did not have a ton of faith in myself. I'd lost that complete and absolute confidence that 11-year-old me had.
I clearly owe past me an apology.
After many hours of work, endless support from my family, friends, and publishing team, I could not be happier that Summer Twilight comes out this Friday, on December 11, 2020. A coincidence that it's my dog's birthday? Definitely not.
I keep saying it to myself, hoping that sometime it will feel real. I'm publishing a book. Like a printed, physical book with my name on it, that I wrote and that I own. It doesn't feel real yet, and I don't know when it will. But I am so excited to find out.
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Bridget is the author of Summer Twilight, available for purchase now!