Today I sat down to submit my final manuscript and self-publish my memoir, Teranga.
Ready to feel the relief, I click "upload" and watch the circle of death make a few rotations before I get the message in bright red: Failed to upload.
I blink a few times and pour my face into my hands. Of course this would happen, I think. It's only fitting for how the rest of this writing-a-book journey has gone so far.
I sat there in front of my computer, making my way through my list of favorite curse words, trying and re-trying to upload it. I had paid a professional to format it, after all, so this exact thing wouldn't happen.
Deep breaths. I kept telling myself, nails crushing my palms as I involuntarily made tight fists.
I went back and forth with the formatter (is that a title?), tried a dozen more times, clicked things and smashed keys and swore some more. Finally, I did what we all do in such situations: I rage-watched an episode of Gilmore Girls while eating take-out, came back upstairs, and turned my computer on and off again.
The next time I tried, it worked.
I couldn't help but laugh that, after 6 months (or 13 years?) or working on this book and overcoming so many fears that I literally received a "failure" message when I reached the end, only to find that turning my computer on and off again would fix it.
Hilarious, Universe. You're just hilarious.
And now, I wait for Amazon to approve it, and then I think I'll probably burst into a puff of smoke. I don't know. This all feels unreal, and I'm both excited and ready to move on to the next part- promoting it? how do I do that?- and I'm really anxious, too.
Taking the self-publishing route has sort of been like climbing a mountain in the rain while carrying a bike over your head, reaching the top, and biking down in an avalanche. It's been hard. But it's also been one hell of an adventure.
Writing memoir makes you look deeply at your life and yourself, and I've uncovered nuggets of truth and beauty like an archaeologist dusting off sand from an exciting, ancient fossil. They knew it was there, but they had to work hard to find it, and now- in excruciating slowness and with meticulous work- they unearth it. They get to know their discovery slowly and intimately. They have no choice, and they're forced to be patient.
But when you get to hold that T-rex bone in your hands, it's incredibly rewarding, even if it sort of breaks once you touch the whole thing. There's always Superglue.
Yeah, that's what writing this memoir has been like. Like unearthing and breaking a T-Rex bone and putting it back together.