By Shahnaz Radjy
As a writer, I connect with many of my peers through social media. It is as inspiring as it is daunting, all the more so because I see always see announcements about book launches. The result?
I sometimes don’t put a book on my reading wish-list merely because it’s coming out soon. There are exceptions, and I Gave up Men for Lent is one of them.
Something about the premise and its inherent humor made me pause and look up the author’s website. There, I came across words that I connected with, almost as if I were reading old emails exchanged with a close friend.
That’s why I wanted to interview Kacie Main and find out more about her author debut.
Living with the Book
An official first draft of Kacie’s book “I Gave Up Men For Lent: The story of a jaded, hopelessly romantic, health-conscious party girl’s search for meaning” was ready in September 2017. Instead of focusing on the next phases of publishing, Kacie took a break to fulfill another lifelong dream of hers. She traveled to Africa. Upon her return, editing commenced, and in May 2018 a publisher was secured. That leads to more editing, with a professional editor. The book was launched on 7 February 2019.
That sounds straightforward, but it means Kacie has lived this book for almost two years. Intense. The good news is that Kacie shared some of her strategies as well as some of the surprises she encountered along the way.
You Know You’re an Author When…
Writing was always in the back of Kacie’s mind as she embarked on a decade of corporate jobs. One of the telltale signs that she is a writer through and through is that the written word is her preferred form of expression. At the moment, in the thick of a conversation, there can be too many emotions to sort through. Writing down her feelings is what helped Kacie put words to confusing situations and emotions.
What’s more, “I Gave up Men for Lent” is based on Kacie’s journaling. In her words: “Taking the time to articulate things on paper means riding the rollercoaster of formulating your thoughts and emotions into a linear sentence. Type whatever you’re thinking, and once you’ve done the brain dump, you can formulate it into real sentences. It’s a kind of self-therapy, and it really works!”
Publishing a book is a big goal. To that end, Kacie had a few strategies to get her book published. Rather than getting overwhelmed by the larger goal, Kacie only ever focused on one step at a time. Initially, her objective was to write the first draft. Then she threw herself into editing. When the time came, she began researching the publication process and looking for a publisher. You get the picture.
After years where her writing only existed in her head or in her private journals, Kacie admits that an unexpected aspect of the book publishing process was the fear. Was she really going to bare her soul and share her life with the world?
Kacie considered writing under a pen name, but with a memoir that’s all about owning your own truth, that felt… not quite right. So, to avoid a full-blown panic attack when her book was launched, Kacie started a blog. Initially, she suffered from what I call “click-o-phobia.” When posts were ready to be published, taking the last step and hitting “Publish” was scary and took longer than you would expect. Over time, however, the fear took a back seat.
After the Book is Published – Skydive?
When I spoke to Kacie a few days before her book launch, she was calm. So much so, that she planned to go skydiving the day before her book came out! A constructive way to channel emotions that might be bubbling under the surface.
Another surprise for Kacie was just how much dedication and time is required to write, edit, and publish a book. However, the work of an author does not stop there. There are seemingly infinite ways an author can promote their work. As Kacie puts it, “it’s the beauty and the curse of technology.” Blogs, podcasts, social media, reviews, the lists go on and on.
Coming back to the idea of taking things a step at a time, Kacie plans to do her best and not beat herself up about not doing it all (though something tells me she is going to try doing it all anyway).
The Life-changing Magic of Publishing a Book
Today, Kacie is officially a full-time author. She has fulfilled not just one of her lifelong dreams, but two – with a third one very much underway. The book, check. The trip to Africa, check. Helping people, happening right now.
When she was younger, Kacie wanted to become a child psychologist based on a desire to help others. That intention still exists but has evolved. Without aspiring to become an expert or a coach, Kacie hopes that being curious and sharing her process of figuring life out will inspire others. Perhaps one of the million questions she asks herself in her book will encourage another on a similar journey. Sometimes, all it takes is one comment for people to wake up. If she can spark curiosity in people about and within themselves, the book will have achieved her hopes.
Creating New Goals
Something Kacie said really struck me: people talk about “realistic goals” – but what is the definition of a realistic goal? Almost everything and anything can be realistic. The only difference is how much time it will take to accomplish an “unrealistic” goal.
This is a reflection on how many limitations and rules we live with. Working 9-5, keeping work separate from hobbies or passions, not being too friendly with your boss or colleagues. Within the comforts that some of these constructs give us are mirrored some of the flaws of our society.
As Kacie put it, “It feels like we are all being forced into a mold that does not celebrate our unique talents.” Perhaps it is time to change that.
The Elephant in the Room: Let’s Talk about Depression
There is a good chance that the feelings Kacie describe at the beginning of her book mean she was depressed, or close.
From the outside, no one would have guessed that she felt disconnected from her life, or that she was so unhappy. Even Kacie didn’t think she was depressed until much later (hindsight is often 20/20). That wasn’t just because on paper she had it all: a good job, friends to go out with, an apartment by the beach, a supportive family.
It was also because the clichés around depression imply that if you’re depressed, you are likely to be crying all the time or unable to get out of bed, and maybe even actively contemplating committing suicide.
Apathy is an Aspect of Depression, Too
The closest Kacie got to that was calling in sick a day here and a day there because she didn’t want to get out of bed. She thought it was normal to dread getting up in the morning! Feeling apathetic about her life and not being excited about anything were also red flags that went unnoticed. That’s because she went through the motions and still showed up for happy hour.
Without offering any quick fixes because Kacie understands that there aren’t any, she still encourages others to pause, think, and feel. If you think something is off, and want to change it, go inward. That could mean counseling or therapy, or perhaps just reading books, listening to motivational videos on YouTube, giving up distractions (Instagram, ahem – and yes, that’s me speaking to myself), or even journaling.
Is There Life After Publishing a Book?
Many authors go on book tours, but Kacie isn’t one of them. She doesn’t have a platform or a built-in audience. So, how does she plan to help market her book?
She intends to visit book clubs reading her book and join in the conversations. It’s atypical, yet fitting. Kacie’s book is about figuring out what you really want, connecting with yourself and then with others.
So, is anyone surprised that she is shying away from the traditional formula in favor of an approach that favors real connections?
This speaks to a critical truth about publishing a book. You need to do what works for you. Big five publishing houses, boutique publisher, self-publishing – do your research, and take all advice (including this one) with a pinch of salt.
As for the future, Kacie has a lot of ideas. One is to start a podcast to connect with real people pursuing their dreams. This wouldn’t mean profiling successful entrepreneurs, but everyday men and women that are in the messy phase of building the life they want.
And if you enjoy “I Gave up Men for Lent” as much as I did, fear not – there may well be a sequel in the works.
Bio: Shahnaz Radjy
Shahnaz is an adventurer, foodie, bookworm, and horse-lover. She is a freelance writer based in Portugal as well as the co-founder of an eco-tourism project.
Alumni of the World Economic Forum and the University of Pennsylvania. Shahnaz has lived in Geneva/Switzerland, Philadelphia/USA, La Paz/Bolivia, and New York/USA.
Posts on Two Drops of Ink
Two Drops of Ink: The Literary Home for Collaborative Writing
Have you interviewed an author? Are you in the process of becoming a published author? What are some steps that you took to get published that could help the readers and writers at Two Drops of Ink?
Not into writing advice, just writing your short story, memoir, or poetry? All of those have a potential home at Two Drops of Ink. Consider a guest post today.