Once I decided to actually start writing a book, it took only three weeks to write it. That probably sounds like a very short time, but you’d be amazed at what you can do when the spirit hits you. Honestly, once I started writing, it was almost like the story wrote itself. Nevertheless, I kept telling myself, this is only just for fun. Nothing serious. It would only be something for my niece to enjoy, and a good new hobby to balance out my hectic work life. Now if you know me, you know I don’t halfway do anything. So even if my niece was the only one who would ever read it, I wrote it as if it would be on display in every Barnes & Noble in the world.
I had a ball being able to create characters and develop a plot. It allowed me to use my imagination in a way that I hadn’t in a long time. Although my job as a marketer is to come up with creative ways to market goods and services, I do this for companies that have their own predetermined goals and objectives. But this was something all my own. I had complete control. And more than that it was for the niece I loved. It was personal. I was having so much fun with getting lost in my own world and seeing where the story took me. Once the book was complete, it was time to put it to the test.
During my stint as a mobile product manager, we would do a beta before we launch new apps. A beta is when you test products on a sample group before releasing it to the masses. I treated my finished book the same way. Before I could even let McKenzie lay eyes on it, I knew I needed to run it by a beta group. This group included my husband and my mother. Being my own worst critic, I was fully prepared for the criticism that was to come because I hadn’t written in years. My husband was the first test, and he loved the book. But he loves me and we were newlyweds, so maybe he was just being nice.
My mother was up next. She is one of the most avid readers you will ever meet, and she always gives it to me straight. I knew there would be no sugarcoating from her, but she also loved it. At this point, I was feeling pretty good about it, so it was time to put in the hands for which it was written—McKenzie. During her summer break, I gave her the book, and in about a day and a half she was done. Nervous to hear her feedback, I picked her up from my brother’s office and we discussed it on the way home. To my excitement, not only did she enjoy the book, she was able to clearly communicate the plot, themes, and important lessons. It was definitely a win.
Shortly after that, my mom and husband started asking why wasn’t I going to publish it. “I don’t know,” I would reply. It was just for fun. McKenzie said she knew her friends would want to read it. She even went so far as taking it to school and letting a friend borrow it (which was against my strict orders), but even that was a good sign. So I started asking myself, why not publish it? If I cared so much about black girls having the opportunity to read more characters that looked like them, why stop at this one black girl?
It’s funny how even the most confident people can be overcome by fear and doubt, both of which are usually unsubstantiated. I prayed about it a lot and I also continued to write. Before I knew it, I had another book which also got rave reviews from my circle. Clearly there was something in me that I needed to get out. So the decision was final, I would publish it. Now how in the world was I supposed to do that…