I have worked with people in my life. I have enjoyed working with people. Sometimes I’m even good at working with people (read with excited tone)! Nevertheless, I found myself more in my element when I worked on projects Han-style (Solo – yes it is, in fact, a stolen quote). This is not because I thought others would drag me down or slow me down. It’s simply because I felt I’d have to appease only one person: me. And I’m good at it.
So, when I started writing with the intent to show my work to as big an audience as possible, I was pretty ecstatic. It took a very short time for me to realize that writing, while a solitary practice, can’t really be considered something that you do by yourself. In fact, the more I thought about it, the more I came to terms with the fact that this was the most group-oriented job I’d ever worked.
When I write, I am writing my story, pouring myself, my feelings, my thoughts into something. That something, though, is not exclusively for me. In fact, it’s for as many people as possible. I want to tell a story and I want the story to be heard, felt, criticized, loved or hated. So, I started writing with an audience in mind and I thought I was done… I think you know where this is going.
Once I finished writing my first novel, The Eight Lights, I read it again and edited it, and then again and again. Here was something I had not considered until then. I needed another person to look at my work with different eyes, with a professional mindset. Suddenly my solo-work for me and a potential audience needed to become a duo. I scoured the internet to find the best editor I could afford, and when I did, I started working with them. I won’t bore you with the details, but a few months later I had to find another editor, and the company through which I’d found my first one, apologized to me and refunded me most of my money (upon reviewing the editor’s “work”).
In order to get to that point though, it would take months. In the meantime, I did not want to just wait, so I tapped into my social media and contacts to find people who could be beta readers. Lo and behold, that solo job that actually was a duo, turned out to be a group effort. Many people took the time to read an unpolished book to give notes and opinions that I could use as a stepping stone to improve my narration. I had never thought so many people would offer their help. In my heart I had started changing my perspective on “I prefer working alone.”
A few months down the line it had become clear that things were not going to work out with my editor. I looked more but I was worried. Afterall, I had not chosen my first editor without looking hard enough. I had contacted multiple people; had meetings; sent out samples to edit. I did my due diligence and then some. Still things did not work out.
Enter my current editor. I don’t know whether they’d be happy to be openly mentioned here, since I’m stream of consciencing the hell out of this entry and did not ask anyone, so we’ll call them Eddy (from editor). So, Eddy and I have yet to meet in person. We share a few communities and we spend some time together, virtually speaking. Eddy is what I used to refer to as an online friend. An online friend is my definition of someone with whom you enjoy spending time, and chatting. Maybe you even share with them things that you don’t often (if at all) share with your “real life” friends, but you may or may not consider them as “real” friends (whatever that means). Surely you would not think that they would sacrifice large portions of their days for months, just to help you out on something they have nothing to gain from. Well, let me tell you… Yet another misjudgment on my part.
Knowing of my struggles, Eddy comes to me one day and tells me that he will go ahead and edit the whole book for me. He’s got enough experience, he says, and he thinks he can truly help. My ‘nothing is for nothing’ mindset could not comprehend why anyone would want to help, so I explained that I would be happy to, but I did not know if I could pay for services rendered. My whole other-editor situation was followed by a few financial hits that made it a little hard for me to hire professionals.
Well, Eddy was not even thinking of compensation. He just wanted to help. Now, some of you may not know it, but editing a book is lengthy work. I might do an entry on it soon, but for now, just trust that it’s dozens (often hundreds) of hours of work. Eddy also proposed we found other people to help. He would be the editor, but others could help in other aspects. He said I should ask around. So, I did.
Look, guys, I did not really have much hope. I mean, ok, I had gotten lucky enough to find a bunch of beta readers, plus an editor, but now I was looking for a whole team to volunteer their time. I mean L O L, right? Right? Wrong!
I posted something through some channels and I received MORE pings than I needed. Let that sink in. I was hoping to find 3-4 people. Two would have been enough but just to be sure, you know. I ended up finding way more than I needed. All of them sought only to help. All of them wanted nothing in exchange. I later asked them why on earth they would do that for a stranger (they were, too, online friends). Their answers touched me, and I believe it was the moment I realized that working with other people does not have to be less pleasant than working alone.
Some of them told me that helping was a better use of their time than not to help. Others said they really wanted to see my book come to life. Others didn’t even have a reason; it was something like: “Why is it weird that I want to help?”
On top of all of this, a few people had subscribed to my Patreon within two days of putting it live. The same people are there today. Since the beginning, all my beta readers, editors, friends, patrons have all believed that I had something to offer and wanted to help me bring it to light. They have done so selflessly, and in a manner I can only hope I will one day be able to reciprocate and pay forward.
I know I will never be able to properly thank these people, but this is why I wrote this “love letter” to all of them.
My editors and my patrons above all, but also my beta readers, my followers on Twitch, all of those who have listened, helped, and cared: I would not have the strength to do what I do if it weren’t for you. I am 100% honest when I say you helped me reevaluate the people around me, my professional circle, writing and myself.
From the bottom of my stomach (that is where I feel my feels), THANK YOU.
THANK YOU TRULY.