I can hardly believe I’m two days into a month-long fundraiser for my Book In-Progress, and I’m already almost HALFWAY to reaching my fundraising goal of $500.
That speaks volumes about the incredible people I have in my circle.
“Thanks” feels like too small a word to describe the impact this has had on me personally.
Why is MILY THE MILLENNIAL so important though?
Well, for those who may not know, I experienced a very tough period of writers’ block for about eight years. I published my first book when I was 16, having been selected to take a leading role in a collaborative children’s book project which, unquestionably, changed my entire life. After that, I set some very big goals for myself – If I wanted to really be a career novelist, I decided I had to keep up that early-publishing trend.
So, I published my first solo novel at 18. I wrote that book throughout my senior year of high school. Two books in my teens was cool. But I didn’t realize the pressure I had put on myself to maintain that kind of insane pace.
And, for what it’s worth, I vastly underestimated the amount of change I’d go through from 18 to 28.
I started a lot of books. I tried to collaborate on another one, but that ended badly as I later learned my prospective co-writer and I did not share much of the same vision for the work itself as I originally thought. I entered writing contests. I started a dozen or so books. I could never get past the first or second chapter, always feeling like my work was lackluster, or I was missing the mark somehow.
So, even though I graduated college with a degree in Creative and Professional Writing, I sort of gave up on ever being a full-fledged fiction writer. I thought I’d proven to myself that despite my aspirational youth, I ultimately didn’t have whatever that ‘thing’ was that all the writers I admire had.
I never said that out loud. Part of that is probably because I knew it wasn’t true. But I was definitely fearful that it was true.
But guess what! It wasn’t.
I’m back, baby – and feeling better than ever.
But wait WHY is THIS BOOK so important though?
Right, I was getting to that part.
In the going-on ten years since I published my last novel, I’ve done a lot of things professionally – all of them centered in writing. I worked in Tourism for two years, learning to work through local, state, and federal partnerships to raise awareness about ecological preservation and educate all kinds of people from all kinds of places about what makes a SPECIFIC place uniquely beautiful and significant.
After that, I realized I had dreams I never considered in those early years of adolescence. As it turns out, the thing I love most about writing is that I can use words to empower people to do good, incredible, challenging, exciting, meaningful, impactful things. I can use my middle-kid superpowers of Observation to show others things they may have never really SEEN fully before. I can encourage people to embrace different ways of thinking, to strive for common ground and resolution, to go after the things that make them happy.
So this book is really, really important to me because writing Mily’s story has helped me remember what makes me happy and rededicate my life to sharing that goodness with those around me.
Cool, so it’s about you…
Got me there. Writers – and I’m speaking VERY generally here – are almost always a little self-absorbed. I’ll call myself out for being a total Cancer. Reflection is my primary mode of being. So in that, yeah, I can’t write something that doesn’t have ME in it.
That’s called VOICE.
My voice is direct. It’s graphic, though not in an obscene sense hardly ever. I unlocked my voice in 2020, which by and large was either THE BEST or THE WORST year for creatives in general. Lucky me, it was good year for creativity. It was also the hardest year of my life.
After deciding to leave my Tourism job and go to grad school to study Leadership, applying specifically to a program where I would be given the agency to direct my course of study in a way that would best-serve my long-term goals. By specializing in Intentional Writing, I had the amazing opportunity to be in class with future politicians, medical professionals, coaches, and English teachers. I was very, very serious about discussing the foundations of “Organization Theory” and “Decision-Making” with individuals with HIGH aspirational goals (AKA, future leaders) as well as VASTLY different professional fields to draw perspective.
I knew that my Intent in writing books was to reach BROAD audiences and BRIDGE gaps between groups of people who are often separated by polarized politics.
My Intent was good. The Pandemic felt like a terribly-timed challenge under the scopes of “ORGANIZATION THEORY” and “DECISION-MAKING” specifically. I’m a great student, I don’t mind saying. But school was harder than it had ever been for me because of the uncertain and constantly changing environment we all suddenly found ourselves working through.
Then, just when I thought I was finally on the right track, I was assaulted by a naked stranger on the front steps of my own home.
That was the toughest battle I have ever, ever fought in my life. The experience derailed my study completely. It rendered me incapable of extended concentration, fearful of indulging in my studies because of an overwhelming hyper-awareness of my surroundings. It gave me a sense of one being hunted, watched, made me angry that all I felt for many months was rage, pain, despair, or numbness. It made me wonder if the world was in fact punishing me for pursuing a dream I should have given up on back in high school.
But I couldn’t let go. I didn’t finish grad school… But I did discover the story I’ve been trying to write for most of my life.
That story is Mily’s.
So what now?
Now, I am taking tomorrow off in respect for those lives lost in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Our lives were forever impacted by that day in History. That day was traumatic no matter how near or far we were from the incident itself. That day will never leave me. But I believe that reflecting on that Day has the power to change people for the better. And that, ultimately, is what Mily’s story ended up being about.
Millennials like me were set on a course unseen in human history because of the events on 9/11. I realize more and more every year how much that one day shaped me into who I am today. I was eight when it happened, just like Mily is in this book. I remember being afraid of airplanes, and wondering who terrorists were, and wondering why on Earth anyone would want to attack the United States. I WAS EIGHT. I am empath, I was then and I am today – but back then I didn’t have words to describe how it felt to constantly sense the stress, fear, anxiety, hurt, anger, grief, and ever-present confusion of the adults around me. I knew my parents were different than before it happened. I knew my teachers were too. My pastors. My coaches. Everybody.
I wasn’t afraid of another attack. I didn’t understand war. I didn’t know a lot of things that I do or am just starting to now, twenty years later. But my lack of understanding has led to a lot of questions over the years, questions I think most Millennials share. About what went wrong. About how to prevent catastrophe. About how to be better people, make better societies, and forge ahead through fear of the unknowable and unthinkable happening again.
Mily is eight. She trips into a patch of Pitcher’s thistle which leads to magical bugs nesting in her brain. And the infestation, the powers of overhearing and sightseeing they bring, gives Mily knowledge that will empower her to keep moving forward, most especially when she doesn’t understand why her world had to change so much, so quickly, so permanently.
I plan for this book to be in readers hands before winter. Fall is the season of shedding skins, bright colors, and corn mazes. Writing this book has gotten my life back on the right tracks. I’m not afraid to stand and consider a Crossroads anymore – That’s where I’m from, it’s who I am.
I hope this book gives every reader at least an ounce of the courage Mily has given me.
We have the power to create a better tomorrow. I believe we can do it. I trust that most of us will try. And if even half of us do, I have no doubt that we will live to see a beautiful, healthful future.
Wanna partner with me?