Because I wanted to.
I could end my answer right there, but there truly is more to the “wanted to” part of it.
I shared with a friend that I was just going to release my book on my website, an idea that had been swirling around in my head for a long time. I knew that if my latest agent response was a no, I’d do it.
And then the latest agent response was indeed a no. I moved forward with my plan and my friend, knowing how my story goes, asked:
“Do you ever get hate mail?”
I thought back over the years, over the numerous websites and essays I’ve written on teen pregnancy and domestic violence and child abuse and sexual assault.
“Oh, all the time. And releasing my book this way will likely bring in more. I might hear from family, or I might hear from strangers who don’t like me talking about uncomfortable things, or I might even hear from writers who point out all my errors. But I’m much more concerned about who I don’t hear from — those I know need to know they aren’t alone, who don’t have a voice yet, and who just need to see all the ugly parts of another person’s life so they don’t feel like absolutely no one could ever understand all the ugly parts of their own lives.”
But when I do get genuine hate mail? I just kinda shrug. I would rather release my book and get hate mail than sit on it and ruffle no feathers, keep everything buried, never help at all.
“We lived in a place where you buried what you didn’t want anymore — trash, waste, truth.” –The First 22 Years Are the Hardest
I decided to release my book because I am more afraid of growing old with an untold (so to speak) story than to wait to be picked, than to keep reworking the same story over and over. It’s not that I don’t want to be published; it’s that I want to help more.
I’m not trying to be noble — just honest.
Because the truth is, my past isn’t pretty and people look at me differently sometimes when I share pieces of it. This isn’t even the whole thing and it’s U.G.L.Y. all the same. I still feel compelled to release my story, to set it free with all its imperfections, so that I can also be free in a way, and I can help others by sharing it, and I can have permission (from self) to move forward with the next book and journey.
We all have a story to tell, and we all have a journey we’ll take in how we share it. This is why I did so this way. Chapter by chapter, I release the story, I release the past, and I release the pain, hoping each day that someone else reads and thinks something like, “I would never make that decision,” because yay, that might make all the difference; or, “Can’t she see all the red flags?” because yes, if you see them in my story, maybe you won’t miss them in your own life; or, “Wait, abuse doesn’t always mean hitting?” because too many people think domestic violence is purely physical, and I know my story gives a different look at how abuse entered quietly before it ever became physical.
I released my book for free because I just want to help someone else never have a need to write a similar book at all.
Read my book chapter by chapter for free, starting here: The First 22 Years Are the Hardest, a memoir by Angela Giles Klocke