Second on the countdown of my top three writerly moments of 2013:
#2: Publishing Life on Other Moons
Last May, I received an MFA in Creative Writing and Publishing Arts from the University of Baltimore. My thesis, Life on Other Moons, was the culmination of four years of learning from some of the best, most talented, most giving people I’ve ever known, with two semesters of active work on the thesis project itself.
As a fiction student, I was tasked with writing/revising, designing, and self-publishing a collection of short stories in my last year in the program. Most of the sweat and blood and screaming came out in the second semester, between January and April 2013. The text was written—and the design nearly finished—by the end of March. In April, I slapped on my ISBN, locked the text and design as final, and sent everything to the printers. A couple of weeks (and several hundred dollars) later, I had a paperback book (and a limited edition of books that I made by hand) called Life on Other Moons. On May 10, 2013, I performed my final duty: participate in the public reading and book signing.
The process of writing and publishing my first book taught me a lot about being a writer, being a publisher, and just living and breathing in the world of academic fiction. It’s an amazing feeling to know that if I wanted to, I could write and publish a book of my own design all by myself. Over and over. And if I wanted, I could call on the support of my friends.
The trick now is getting people to be interested enough to buy a copy, and sometimes that’s where having a traditional publisher would come in handy. I’m not saying traditional publishers have massive advertising budgets, because for most books, they don’t. Rather, I’m saying that despite the lessening stigma of self-publishing, the traditional publishers really still have all the brand recognition and prestige (and the money). So I envy their marketing power. As a selfie, I’m almost guaranteed an uphill battle trying to rise above the noise (yeah, I just used Oxford’s 2013 word of the year in an entirely different context—deal with it).
But, believe it or not, I have even bigger fish to fry. While I work on the marketing plan to sell the last 120 copies of Life on Other Moons, I’m also working my way through a professional screenwriting course so I can go for the dream goal next, the reason I went into creative writing in the first place: becoming a TV writer. And that’s the subject of my top writerly moment of 2013.