Author, Italian American Author, Women's Fiction Author

Vulnerability: Steps and Lessons 

If you follow my social media (and I sure hope you do! 😊), you know that I just submitted my first round of line edits back to my publisher. During this process, I started to think about the amount of vulnerability that is needed in the author world, as well as lessons I have already learned. Let’s look at the meaning of the world “vulnerability” before I go any further.

Vulnerability- the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally. (Oxford Dictionary)

These words strike me especially strong at this time in the world. They are powerful, anxiety provoking, and just plain scary! What is your reaction? What have you been vulnerable with or are being vulnerable about right now in your life? (Pause for self-reflection, lol…but seriously)

Okay, you’re back. So, I’ve given deep thought to the concept of vulnerability in the past, due to my role as a mental health therapist. I’ve thought about it for my clients and in my own life, but never as much as lately. I’m happy to share some insights here, in hopes you can connect to them for your own benefit. But first, a slight backstory. You know that’s how I work by now!

From the moment I opened myself up to the public as an author, when I started my website and social media platforms in December 2018, I had to get more comfortable with the risk of others’ thoughts, responses, and opinions…risk meaning the possibility of something negative or hurtful. I hoped and thought that most people would be kind souls, but you never know. “Attack” is always possible. That was level one for my vulnerability, in my mind, as I reflect back. It’s a constant threat, as I open up my heart every single time I post something or respond to other people’s posts. Of course, it’s a risk I’m willing to take. Just as the next steps.

Level two came as soon as I sent my first query letter in June 2019. Now, you see, I was not only exposing myself to the public, but specifically to experts in the publishing field. Cue the racing heart and flood of second guessing my work. But I persisted. I had to in order to meet my dream of getting published.

The stakes kept rising with each risk I took; the pitch parties I participated in, the interactions with agents and publishers, going to classes, and joining webinars to build my skills. Every bit was allowing a piece of me to escape, without knowing where the piece would end up. This is wayyyy out of my comfort zone, let me tell you.

But then came the call with my now publisher. Level three was in action. She already knew I had not published books in the past, but during this call she mentioned a popular website I hadn’t heard of, which I told her I didn’t know, and I’ll never forget her response. She commented on me actually being a newbie to the field (not in a rude way at all, more like a “oh yeah” moment). The comment stayed with me because I always want to be known as knowledgeable and intelligent (that’s just a part of my personality). I love to be as prepared as possible for any circumstance, but can’t be, obviously. Also, what stuck with me was that it was okay with her that I was new. It wasn’t an issue at all. In that conversation, nor in future correspondence, did she ever have an issue with my past experience.

From that point on I felt a large increase in comfort with being able to be myself during our work together. The lesson of “honesty is always the best policy” is one I abide by and it was reinforced from the start of my relationship with my publisher. There is always going to be a first time for people. We all have to start somewhere and thank God she is giving me a chance.

The next lesson I learned from the requirement of being vulnerable in the author domain is that my desire to learn works for me and my success. Although I want to know everything I can, I know I don’t. Even if I was one of the experts in this field, I still wouldn’t ever consider myself an expert. I have a mentality that I’m always learning. There is always better and more I can do. I love to learn, as written about in last’s month’s blog, so why would this journey be any different? I know I need to listen to my experts (editor and publisher; also, another lesson) to make my book the best it will be. Otherwise, I may as well have self-published.

As I have read through the editor comments in my manuscript these last two rounds, I always try to keep an open mind. I need to be flexible and be able to ponder other people’s opinions of my writing, in order to make it shine. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I don’t agree, but that is okay. We can have conversations about both of our thoughts and go from there. Sometimes though, it may be that I first don’t agree, think about it more, come back to it at a later point in time, and then see the opinion is correct. Sometimes, even after thinking about it, I come back and still don’t agree, but change the issue anyway, just to see what it would be like. Then, magically, it does work better. Most of the time, the editor is spot on, in fact. It’s not easy to see some things within your own work; you need others. When your art includes your heart, which it always does and yes I rhymed on purpose, it can be difficult to know what can make it better. Even some published books can still be better, I’m sure. The experts are there for a reason, so let them help you. They are on your side. Defensiveness or ego be gone. They won’t get you anywhere, in my opinion.

Maybe the steps are endless in my journey, as I continue to embark on new and exciting aspects in the author world. I know I will be expanding in the future for areas in marketing and such, so there may be a hundred steps of vulnerability. Who knows? What I do know is that as I continue to open my heart and soul, I am becoming a stronger person. This gift is earned and takes time. I’m curious and excited to know all the steps and lessons that are to come in my future as an author.

Tell me if you can relate to being vulnerable at this time and any teachable moments you have had, below in comments. Thanks for reading!

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Italian American Author, Uncategorized, Women's Fiction Author

The Behind the Scenes of the Behind the Scenes

Okay, remember how I said part of the reason I am doing this blog is to open up my behind the scenes aspects, AKA my life, to you as the reader/audience/follower? Well, hold on to your seat because it’s going to get very meta on you for today’s post. I know you can handle it, so let’s go.

After starting to write the last post, something strange happened to me. As soon as I started to write, the content seemed to take on a life of its own. Somehow, I started the post as a different topic than it became, but the words just kept going in that new direction. It’s boggling my mind that I could write the last two posts so easily. How could that be? I’m not a blogger (or am I?), so this doesn’t make sense. I write novels; novels that have a predetermined purpose and timeline of details. Then, blogs should be the same in my mind, logically speaking. And, just letting my hands take it away without my brain having confirmed their message ahead of time is completely un-C. D’Angelo-like. That is not my style at all when writing for the public…right?

All of this makes me think about a little word called process. As a mental health therapist in my day job, ‘process’ is an extremely familiar word to me. It’s therapist jargon for sure and is thrown around almost daily as an essential part of the therapy process. See, there I go again. Process, process, process.

So, let’s break it down. The word process, when used as a verb in the therapy world, means to explore, to dissect, to search through the topic (in my words, not a famous dictionary version). In therapy notes, I sometimes write “Client and therapist processed [fill in the issue].” Processing is an actual intervention involving action. But it is also a thing (remember the whole person, place, or thing = noun?); a process. The word’s versatility is what makes it interesting to me at this moment because I am currently processing my process of writing blogs. Like, right now. Right as you read this paragraph. That’s process. And, that’s very C. D’Angelo-like. I’ll analyze anything to death, so let me keep going.

You may be wondering why it’s important for me to write about this blogging process though, or rather my blogging process. I think it is because I am still getting my feet wet with this new world. My writing in the past has only been for me, but now I am writing for the public to view as well. That means my inner-most thoughts are laid out for all to see, anytime they want! Forever, online! Oh gosh, I can’t think about that too much or I would never post anything. But, that’s why I thought it would be more difficult to blog than to novel write. I know, writing a page or two vs 400 being more difficult seems counter-intuitive, but that’s how my mind works.

My new identity of a blogger (okay, I’m slowly starting to own it), in addition to a sort-of new identity of being an author is, well, something I am still grasping in my mind. Also, the way I write has been pretty steady for my debut novel, which includes strict planning, including outline, characters, and storyline. My blogs have been less formal, which is freeing in a way. I only come up with a topic and let loose. I feel free when writing my books, but it’s a different kind of free. That’s a free through someone else’s eyes; my character. It’s somehow safer. It’s just me and my characters in the room. These blogs are through my eyes in a more direct manner. It’s me in a direct connection to the world. No publishing process is inserted between the two. Both novel writing and blogging are creative expressions for me, but the novel writing is more designed than these blogs. Both of the past blogs have been main ideas that developed as I wrote, into the finished product. That is thrilling to me. It’s a what-will-happen-next type thing even for me as their writer.

In the therapy world, I use expressive arts therapy as one of the theories I work from with clients. This process reminds me exactly of the main tenant of that theory. The art used by the client can go from music making to painting to dancing, for example, and all contribute to the overall movement and healing of the person. One art form informs the next step; it cannot be planned out. That is what has been happening with my blogs, apparently. They have flowed from the beginning of my writing adventure (the novel) and that art has led to this art form of expression (the blog). It’s almost like I’ve been in another state of mind when writing during the blogs. That happens with the novel writing as well, but again, in a different format; a more structured and formal state of mind. I shall continue to analyze this forever of course!

I guess it just comes down to writing is fun for me in different formats. I also achieve a state of flow for multiple arts in which I engage. Maybe I’ll experiment with another genre someday or a different format, such as short stories. Who knows? I thought blog writing would feel like a task (sorry to say) but it never has felt that way and I intend to keep that up. When my writing comes from a place of a need to create, a need to express, and a need to share, I can’t go wrong. You know the difference when it comes from someone’s heart filled with joy vs a forced place. That’s isn’t how I operate for any of my arts.

I never thought that blog writing would allow me to learn more about myself, but here I am learning even in this post as I…wait for it…process. I wanted to allow people to know me more by blogging, but look at what happened instead. It goes both ways. So, this lack of planning beyond topic may bleed into my next novel. Maybe I will just see what happens from the start with absolutely no planning at all. Um, nah…I’ve already started planning. But maybe I will at least be less of a planner and can see where that takes me. We will see. I’m excited for this new art form to inform the next. That’s what I know now. Thanks for helping me to evaluate myself; what every author therapist loves to do apparently…or at least this one.