Every writer wonders about their first book. I know I always have. You can’t shake the feeling that it will end up defining you somehow. Not just whether or not it’s successful, but what kind of book it is.
I’ve always wondered, and worried, what my first book would be. Mostly, whether or not I’d ever publish one, but then, if I did, would it trap me somehow. I’ve always had a million story ideas in my head, and I’ve never been particular about one type. In the four years I’ve done NaNoWriMo, I’ve written four novels in four entirely different genres: post-apocalyptic scifi, modern day romance, kung fu fantasy, and historical fiction.
So a lack of ideas has never been a serious worry. But whether or not I’d ever be able to do anything with them has. Assuming I got the dreamt of chance to publish a book, what story would I pick? What genre? And how would that define my future career? If I published a scifi story, how would I convince my, hypothetical, publisher to buy my next book if I brought them a romantic novel?
All this to say, it’s probably with no small amount of irony that the first book I ever publish is one I never really intended to write.
I’m publishing a book. Self-publishing, but still. It’s been a long journey, and I’m still not quite through it just yet, but I’m doing it. I have cover art and everything.
It’s called “Fire In My Bones”, and, again ironically, it’s a book that’s hard to pick a genre for. It’s part memoir, part scriptural analysis, and part field guide to depression. It started as a journal I wrote back last fall, before I even started blogging.
I had just moved to Atlanta. I had no job, no permanent residence, and no real prospects on either end. So, one day, I decided to read the book of Jeremiah from the Old Testament and, chapter-by-chapter, I wrote down my thoughts, feelings, and reactions to what I was reading.
There are a lot of reasons I did this, (you’ll have to read to book), but one reason I did not have was that I might make a book out of it. That thought seriously never entered my mind. It was only after I mentioned it weeks later to a friend, who’s an author, that I even started thinking about how I might use what I had written, and it wasn’t until the #CreateLounge Instagram challenge that I actually decided to up and publish it. And, just like that, I had my first book.
I can’t stress enough how unexpected this is. I’m a fiction writer. I love stories. I write stories. I want to publish stories. I’ve never really been one for biography, and, with some notable exceptions, (cough “If You Find This Letter” cough cough), memoirs tend to bore me.
I never intended to write a memoir, and I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to write one while you’re in the middle of what you’re writing about. In the same way, while I have theological thoughts, I never really wanted to write a book on the Bible. Again not my genre, and again, with exceptions, not my favorite. And, while I was certainly going through it, and in some ways still am, the last thing I would want is to write a book on dealing with depression. Certainly not from the inside.
And yet I have a book, and it’s all these things, and, if I can be self-praising for a second, in a way it’s none of them. It’s unique, not just compared to what I’ve written but to what I’ve read out there. So, I’m publishing it.
It’s not a book I ever intended to write, and my second book will likely be nothing like this one, but I like this one.
And I hope you will too.