So, the book is out. Dirty Water Coffee and Other Myths, now available for your enjoyment. I can finally take a deep breath, go on vacation, and prepare myself to work on my next project. But first, I want to talk a little bit about why I wrote the book and what it’s like to have finally done it.
I wrote this book over 4 years ago, and finally gathered up enough gumption to publish it. Self-publish it, that is. I did not send it around to agents, write a book proposal, filter it through editors, gain the approval of publishers, and so forth. I just published it myself because it’s mine, I did the work, and I want it to be out in the world. That’s my right as a writer.
I had a lot of reservations about self-publishing as opposed to “real” publishing, but in the end, I decided I don’t even want the approval of the people who think I need their approval. So there.
The book is a spiritual memoir told through creative essays. It’s about growing up female in America and figuring out what you really believe about the world as opposed to all the stories, religions, beliefs and biases that you’re given as a child. It’s about exploring all the options and deciding who you want to be. It’s about those moments when you come face-to-face with your former self and love her for the first time. My hope is that the book is warm, loving, enlightening, and a little bit funny. Or a lot funny if you like stories of first kisses and worst kisses, bad teenaged decision making, and some of the more awkward aspects of neo-paganism. I have often had people laugh out loud at things I wrote, which I didn’t realize were funny at all till I said them out loud and found myself snorting uncontrollably. In fact, I’m thinking of a particular essay that I like a lot, so maybe I’ll record a reading of it for you. Keep an eye out for that in the near future.
Let me tell you about the process of releasing this book.
After working on it for so long, I would read some sections and think, “Oh fuck this self-absorbed narrator. I sound so childish. So arrogant. So … much like a version of myself that I really really don’t want to be.”
But I felt a need to publish it anyway because I think this story matters — the part where a woman grows up and goes through some shit and develops into her own human being and stuff. The universal part.
It matters because that story isn’t being told well enough, often enough, or loudly enough. Because most literary classics are about that very process from a male perspective, and what I wanted was to write a feminist book of spiritual maturation. And I think that’s what I did. So, from that perspective, I’m proud of the book.
I have definitely changed as a writer and as a person since writing this book. The essays are not perfect, the titles could have a little more spark to them, the narrator (who is a distilled version of myself) is not always likable. But that’s humanity for ya. I have been afraid of being labeled as anything that might seem too self-absorbed … too navel-gazing-ish. And I think that’s not really a legitimate label. Actually I think that’s some misogynistic bullshit that I internalized somewhere along the line. And if I’ve internalized it, then other women and men probably have, too, which is another reason I needed to write this book and give it to the world.
The thing is, I believe deep down that women’s stories are really important, and not just because we’re women but because we’re human, too, and if you are human and you love humanity, then all human stories must have some value. And I love this book because it’s mine. Writing it has been an adventure, a challenge, and an intense learning process, and I’m ready to see where it leads next.