I have always been obsessed with the sound of a pencil against paper. The soft, scratchy sound as its lead point chaffs across the surface never ceased to enthrall me. I knew that writing was for me when I took sharpened pencils seriously. I liked my pencils’ lead extra sharp so that I could begin my first sentence with a distinct first letter. I wanted it to stand out in remembrance of my sharpened pencil that was cooperatively emitted by my sharpened thoughts.
I, like many aspiring writers, have always wanted to be published. I didn’t care if it was in a newspaper, magazine, or newsletter. I just wanted to be published. I applied myself by submitting my works to several writing contests and earned publication. But after winning several competitions, I wanted to go further. I wanted a book—my own book.
At the age of twelve, I had a heavy desire to become an author. I wanted to be famous like Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, Alice Walker, Beverly Cleary, Stephen King, James Baldwin, and Toni Morrison. It was a yearning that followed me into adulthood. I did not think that my dream would come true in another twelve years. I was an optimist who had writings and saw the book, but I did not know the in-between. I did not know how to get there.
I inquired to several authors about how they had gotten to where they were, but only received advice, such as, “Keep writing.” I starved for specificity. I learned that I was on my own.
Nevertheless, I researched the publishing industry, dived into books by numerous authors, studied their writing styles, and noticed their trademarks. I wanted to protrude from all of them. Therefore, I took time to develop a relationship with my writing style. I studied, tweaked, honed, and engorged it. I birthed a fresh fleck to my individuality.
Once I relocated to Buffalo, NY, from Atlanta, GA, for graduate school, my creative juices began to erupt and flow. Not only did I want a book, but I wanted a book fast. In my spare time, I wrote a book about relationships from a spiritual and foodie approach. I researched query letters, developed one, and submitted it to 14 agencies. All of them rejected my work, but this only pushed me to forge closer to greatness. Although 14 may seem like a small number, this was huge to me and valuable time was being wasted through rejections. I was finally recommended to try self publishing and after doing enough research, I fell in love with the industry. It is ideal to research desired fields, whether publishing or not. It opens doors to realms of understanding, knowledge, and greater expectations.
I do not regret self publication. I chose this field to get my book published in ample timing. I created the book cover and layout and it looks just the way I want it. I recommend self publishing, although it takes much work, drive, and some knowledge of technology. I love to promote my own work and devise ways of getting to the masses. Trade publishing sounds interesting, but I will writhe in self publishing for a little while longer. I will keep my pencils sharp and stacks of paper high until I publish more fruit. I will remain driven.
Neely Terrell is a school librarian, freelance editor, and writer. She is a graduate student at the University at Buffalo, where she studies Library and Information Studies with a concentration in School Media. She was a semifinalist in EbonyJet’s 14th Annual Gertrude Johnson Williams Writing Competition in Short Fiction. Her writing has appeared in VOX Magazine and ArtVoice.
She recently completed her book “Dumped and Delivered: Seeds To Uplift The Brokenhearted, Single and Committed,” which is available at Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com. Terrell recently became the first student, African-American or otherwise, to have her book in the student bookstore at the University of Buffalo. The four-part series this month will encompass her journey with writing, recovery from breakups, confidence, and motivation.