When writing and submitting my first book, the foremost thing on my mind was “Is it good enough?” I reread, revised, rewrote and worried for over a year until a publisher picked it up. After that, I sweated out editor suggestions and more revisions. It was only when I was staring at my first ARC (advanced reading copy) just before publication that I noticed the editor’s note that I had to supply a biography, a book dedication, and acknowledgments. Um, what?
Writing a biography is harder than you’d think. I live in an average sized town in the very average Midwest. I have no advanced degrees and have accomplished nothing of note. I’m married, have two children, and have worked off and on at a dozen boring, dead-end jobs just for the money. I was warned against providing too much information because, you know, no one wants an internet troll to show up on their doorstep. I managed to scribble out a few sentences that I thought made me sound vaguely interesting and not at all worth stalking.
There’s a fairly standard protocol for the acknowledgment section, thank your family. Even if the kids complained about you hogging the laptop and your husband rolled his eyes and laughed when you tried to tell him the plot—thank your family. Unless self-published in a vacuum, it is also good cricket to thank your agent/editor and publisher. Have critique partners? Beta readers? Belong to a gang? Thank them too. Writing can be a solitary endeavor, but no author is an island (unless you literally live alone in a cave on a desert island without wifi). You’ll forget someone. It happens.
Two of three done, I was on a roll until I stared at the word “dedication.” My book represented years of a secret dream, years of reading, learning, and improving, month after month of filling up notebooks with ideas, and weeks of nothing but typing. There were days I cried because I thought my writing was awful. Days I cried because I thought no one would ever take my writing seriously. Sometimes I cried because I was afraid that every bad thing anyone ever said about me was right. I was lazy, crazy, and stupid.
Or, in my mother’s vernacular, a real “dumb-head.” That’s what she called the younger me. The eight-year-old who read dictionaries for fun. The twelve-year-old who brought home stacks of books from the library. When she caught me reading I was chastised for being lazy. When I said I wanted to write a book someday, she called me crazy. After high school, my parents refused to fill out the paperwork for college admission/loans because I was too “stupid” for college and it would be a waste of money.
So, I dedicated my first book to myself. It wasn’t an easy decision but younger me was the lone voice saying, “you can do this.” Younger me read those dictionaries and learned a new word every day. Younger me found writing craft books and read across genres to identify style, voice, tone, and pacing. Some may find it attention-seeking, but I could not publish my first book without recognizing that part of my past. Without younger me, I would have never finished my book.
This is my dedication for HOW TO TRAIN YOUR BARON:
This book is dedicated to the younger me. The thirteen-year-old
me who was told that she wasn’t quite good enough,
pretty enough, or smart enough to ever achieve her lofty
dreams. To her I say, stop taking advice from people who
gave up on their dreams. Talent is tin, opportunity gold.
But, baby, you’ve gotta mine that shit yourself.
Anyone can have talent, opportunity is everything. Hone your talent, create opportunity. Read books on craft, associate with like-minded artists/creators, learn the difference between criticism and critique, and, no matter how slowly, never stop moving forward. Opportunity seldom knocks, sometimes you have to chase that bitch down the street as she passes by.