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popularity, publishing, & pushing through

an ode to growing up awkward, owning my particularities, and finding my voice while navigating the publishing world

my older brother has always been the popular one between the two of us.

the eldest of my parents' two children, his charisma, magnetism, and leadership ability make him an instant hit in almost every opportunity he meets. and, if i’m honest, this most admirable quality in him is one i have struggled to emulate in my own life.

unlike my brother, i have always been a bit...well, unpopular now that i reflect on it more candidly. this is not to say that i have not been well liked or never had friends. yet, it is safe to say i embody certain awkward and introverted ways of being that have both impacted the way others see me and the way i see myself.

keeping it real, this new publishing journey i am embarking upon has drummed up several old and odd feelings of doubt and questions about my self-confidence that i have not experienced since my late high school and early college years. to date, i’ve queried literary agents now for over a year and have received only rejections - which, sillily enough, reminds me of the days of yester-year when i was but an unpopular #pickme in the lunchroom wishing with all my might that some nappy-headed boy would ask me to homecoming or prom.

in doing my research and talking to a trusted colleague/mentor in the publishing/journalism world, i knew to expect lots of “no’s” and “try again’s” from potential agents and publishers. still, i figured my talent and love for writing alone would get me through the various rejections and closed doors.

it hasn’t been that easy though. to just keep bouncing back, writing, recovering my truest sense of self from what the publishing machine has programmed all of us to believe about what is popular enough for consumption - worthy enough for patronage and support.

“...recovering my truest sense of self from what the publishing machine has programmed all of us to believe about what is popular enough for consumption...”

yet, i remain persuaded that, even in my awkwardness and lack of experience in the field, i have something to say. to set myself free. and, possibly to share with the world to inspire others to do the same.

it is my intention to “see it through” - a poem my older brother shared with me during my sophomore year of college when i joined my beloved sorority - to keep on keeping on until i publish my first fiction novel. whatever that looks like. and, it is my hope, that people will come along with me on this publishing journey. praying with me. pushing me through to the other side. providing valuable feedback as i go.

to those who are joining me as i write the work my soul must have, thank you for seeing value in doing so. i sincerely appreciate it.

-a passionate black woman (with a still semi-awkward black girl living inside her)


1 Comment

Shantell. Enjoyed reading this. It was open, honest, thoughtful and insightful. I would never have thought that awkward was a part of your history. But if we are honest, most of us can relate in some fashion. Thanks and I hope to read more. See ya soon!

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