I wrote a book and I'm having big feelings about it
It’s Saturday evening and I’m lying in bed, a fan blowing away the warmth in the room like I’ve been trying to blow off this anxiety all day. It’s been a challenge.
The truth is, I’ve been anxious for weeks, the feeling growing as the end of month grows nearer. I can’t shake it, despite being on anti-anxiety medication, going to the gym, talking to loved ones and all the other tricks that usually work for me.
I’m not sleeping much, forcing myself to eat even half of what I usually do, and I have three engrossing novels on the go that I can’t seem to focus on. I’m having heart palpitations – a sign of too much stress, of being overwhelmed. But I don’t need that reminder. I feel it all the time.
It’s the sign of something big happening, and me needing to embrace it – even if it scares me.
My grandparents used to have a farm on Prince Edward Island, and I would visit almost every summer. The upstairs floor had a library, its dark walls lined with books. I would take two or three to my room with me each week, devouring them as the sun set, and falling asleep when it was too dark to make out the words on the page any longer.
It was in that library and bedroom beside it that I realized I wanted to be a writer.
I loved what writers could do – the places they could take me; how they could make me feel such intense emotions with their words. Whenever I finished a book, I would examine everything about it, including the publisher’s emblem. The little sailboat. The little penguin. The vivid colours.
Maybe I would write a book, someday. And maybe there would be a little emblem on my book, too.
I hoped it would be the penguin. I really liked the penguin.
My grandmother was a writer, with a dark wood desk and a typewriter in that big, beautiful farmhouse. She would walk the orchard to find her best ideas. She would submit her short stories everywhere, and even had a couple of them published. “If you keep writing, Amanda,” she would tell me, “You’ll get published one day. I know you will.”
My grandparents are both gone now, but I wish they were here today to see what’s about to happen. Especially my grandma. I thought of her the first time I had a meeting with Penguin Random House Canada and we talked excitedly about the memoir I had just started putting together. I thought of her when I signed my contract with the little penguin at the top of the page – the same one I used to stare at and wonder “What if?”
Dreams really do come true. And my grandma would be so proud.
I wrote a book. An entire book! And this week, it’s being published and shipped all over the world. The early reviews are fantastic. The buzz has exceeded my wildest expectations.
But this isn’t just any book – although, frankly, any book is a big accomplishment! This one is extra special because it’s about my incredible family and all the things we’ve gone through. It’s about love and mistakes and hope and heartbreak and fumbles and wins. It’s about acceptance and resilience and bravery and champions. It’s about a community that gets so much hate and not nearly enough love – a community two of my family members are a part of it.
My family gave me their blessing to write this, cheered me on throughout, and made big time and financial sacrifices so I could primarily dedicate myself to it for two whole years.
And boy, did I write it. I poured my heart into every word. I cried. I laughed. I stood up from the desk and walked away, barely able to breathe from the pain of reliving some of our hardest moments. Shame wormed its way into me as I recounted my flaws and errors. But I needed to tell the world about those, too. You needed to see it all, I figured, to know how we got here. That sometimes it took me a while, as growth often does.
It’s so fucking scary to put your soul out there, laid bare for the world to see. I am now, more than ever, up for judgment. But what scares me more is that my family is, too. My beautiful, strong, atypical family, who only want to live their lives free of prejudice. They will be judged simply for being who they are.
But it’s their hope, as it’s mine, that more people will choose to learn and grow than linger in judgment and hate.
My anxiety is justified. This is big – really big. I have to believe it’s worth it.
We change the world one story at a time. This is the story I wrote. Our story. If you read it, I hope you like it. And if you like it, I hope you share it with the people in your life who might need to read it, too.
Once upon a time, a little girl dreamed of writing a book. Then, she did. It’s called Love Lives Here: a Story of Thriving in a Transgender Family.
And maybe, if she’s lucky, it will help heal the world.
Anxiety be damned. Here goes nothing.