It’s important that we share our experiences with other people. Your story will heal you and your story will heal somebody else. When you tell your story, you free yourself and give other people permission to acknowledge their own story.” -Iyanla Vanzant
Today, February 27th, 2017, I published my second book.
If everything had gone according to plan, Girl Enlightened would have been released in late November last year. I completed the manuscript in early summer, and even with a last-minute review and update of some content, my editor and I still had some time for final touches. But then a couple beta readers offered some valuable feedback, and things came up in the non-publishing world of me and my editor, so we were forced to push the date back to today.
A date that couldn’t be more fitting.
17 years ago today, I handed over my very first piece of writing to someone else to read. In the years since, I’ve often expressed sentiments of apology and regret for doing so. I’d tell others that the reason this “letter” pushed away my former friend and idol was because it was too long. It was too much — my photographic memory, usually a hallmark of being able to capture moments, captured too many moments on those 30 pages, and it was no wonder someone only 19 – just four years older than me — couldn’t see past all the noise to the message of encouragement I was truly getting at.
And yet it remains, to this day, perhaps the most unselfish thing I have ever done in my life. I didn’t give the letter to “Maya” for any benefit of my own. The sole reason I gave her 30 pages of stories about how she had impacted my life in a positive way, was to have a positive impact on her. I didn’t know if it could… I didn’t know if a mere letter coming from a mere 16-year-old could provide any sort of comfort or solace to what I knew were some major issues she was going through. But the thought that it might… the thought that I had this piece of writing that maybe, somehow, could help this person who had once helped me, drove me to hand it over.
17 years ago today I decided I wouldn’t sit on the sidelines. I wouldn’t look on and wonder if there was something I could do. Instead, I would make sure I had done every single thing I could to help a person in need.
And it is that very same motivation with which I release Girl Enlightened to the world today.
The loss of a parent… the physical pain of an injury… the grief… the uncertainty… the feelings of hopelessness… if sharing a story about my journey to overcome those tragedies and heal to the best of my abilities, if that can help just one person going through something similar, than I will accomplish my mission with this book.
One of my first and only negative reviews of And Then It Rained, stated “Writing someone a 30 page letter about how much they are idolized is a bit creepy.” My initial thought upon reading those words by Amazon reader/user “Gee,” was to agree with him — “Yes, indeed, ‘Gee,’ 30 pages is definitely long, and perhaps I should’ve taken a different approach. But all I can do now is move on and learn from my mistake.”
That was then. That was the apologetic me, the one who called that entirely unselfish act a “mistake.” The me now? The me who published my second book today will tell any story — even a deeply personal one — that I think could have a positive impact on others. I feel pride now that at 16 I was willing to put my anxieties aside to help someone I considered a friend. And I feel pride that at 34, I am willing to set any nervousness about putting this whole story of my life out there, in favor of any good it can do for someone else.
February 27th, as I wrote just a couple weeks ago, happens to be the exact day four years ago when I first declared I’d write a sequel, when I wrote to my dad that I owed it to him now more than ever to tell our story. But the meaning of the date and my determination to put my experiences to pages so that they may lift others up, goes back over a decade.
With that, it is my great pleasure today to introduce to you Girl Enlightened.
Links to read it here!