looking for a new agent to represent it, I wrote two books I thought would be more “commercial.” Then I sold it, and that renewed my faith in myself. It gave me permission to write the kinds of books I wanted to write, which sounds easier than it is. I found myself comparing everything I wrote to Five Stages. Honestly, it’s been difficult to write something I felt was worthy of being a successor to Five Stages. Maybe that’s a good problem to have. That’s what I tell myself.
I think I used to consider myself a blogger. Not a particularly good one, mind you, but still someone who blogged on a regular basis about topics that were marginally related (though not always).
These days, I feel like I’m a person who has a blog. Much like an untended garden, it’s withered in places and grown wild in others. I don’t know if blogging has simply given way to Twitter and Tumblr and Facebook (none of which I’m good at either) or if I’ve been saving my words for my writing projects. Every word I put down here is a word I’m not putting in a book, and that’s something I think every writer has to contend with.
These last few months have been exhausting. There’s been some heartache, some joy. I took up sculpting and typing on antique typewriters that remind me what I smelled like when I was a smoker. I lost my aunt Debbie—an amazing woman who demonstrated the kind of influence a truly passionate teacher can have on her students—but I gained some clarity about my own life and what I want from it.
I continue to be astounded at just how much support The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley is getting, both from my agent, editor, and every single brilliant person at Simon Pulse, but also from people I don’t yet know. It’s still months from release, and is only just beginning to make its way into the hands of early reviewers, but the response has been humbling. I felt, even when I wasn’t sure it would ever be published, that it was a special book. I can’t say I believe in God, but I do feel like this story came from someplace greater than me, and while every writer hopes for great sales, my honest hope is that Five Stages finds readers who need to read it the way I needed to write it.
At the same time, I’ve struggled since selling Five Stages to write something else. When I was still
The problem with Five Stages is that it’s so emotionally honest. My characters aren’t me, but they’re all me. I’m not even sure that makes sense. All I know is that when I was writing Five Stages, I had nothing to lose, so I left my heart on the page. And the thing about that is that you have to keep doing it. You have to rip out your heart with each new manuscript, and leave no part of you hidden.
I never saw her teach, but I saw her students cry, and I think that’s how my Aunt Debbie taught. With everything she had. She wasn’t just an example for her students, she was an example for us all.
I don’t know if writing this means I’m a blogger again or if I’m just a writer who sucks at occasionally blogging. Maybe I’ve finally learned how to leave it all on the page, and that’s left me nothing for here. Maybe I should stop drinking coffee before it warps my brain. Nah, it’s probably too late for that.
I can’t promise I’ll be blogging more often—it’s the summer and I’m working on two manuscripts, and a project I hope I’ll get to announce very soon—but there are a lot of things happening that I can’t wait to share. Things that aren’t typewriters or sculptures or how much I love taking bubble baths when I’m trying to write the first draft of a book. Cool things, comic things, collaborative things. Lots of things.
And if you don’t find me here, I’ll always be in the pages of my books.