Growing Up a Writer
The ups, the downs, and awkward middles that follow self-publishing and finding a place in the writing world.
Let me introduce myself…
My name is Camille Akers. I am an undergraduate student, interested in Literature, but also exploring Spanish and Psychology. I love telling my story as an emerging creative and sharing what I learn along the way. When I’m not studying or writing poetry, I am watching Netflix (right now, my show is Gilmore Girls), cooking pasta, and spending time with my family, dog, and wonderful partner.
Find my work here.
I’ve been a storyteller since birth.
I don’t think they would admit it, but I know I get it from my mother and father. In bits and pieces, I’ve heard they both had a gift for the English subject, as well as raising me on novels that defined my childhood.
Mrs. McNosh and the Great Big Squash was one of the first books I poured myself into. I’d beg my mother to read it to me almost every night before bed. Then, the next mornings, I would make picture books in my first grade classroom. There were no stories about women living in fruit, but knowing that I could create anything that came to my mind was so exciting to me.
I was not an athletic child, but one with a strong mind. I was lucky enough to be raised by intelligent people who introduced these stories to me, giving me inspiration from a young age. It was only a matter of time before I finally put words to paper. Writing was always the thing that made sense when nothing else did. If I felt alone at school or had a brand new crush, the story ideas began. Reading was a place of growth, but writing was my inner expression.
Coming of age at the same time as technology, my stories naturally became digital. It started with google docs: collaborating with my other creative friends or writing short stories around my emotions, my google drive was at full capacity. When I grew tired of my stories being secret, I moved on to fanfiction published on Wattpad (which I will not share the titles of unless I finally become famous…).
As high school was coming to an end, however, I wanted to do something much bigger than fan fiction: In 2021, I self-published a book titled The Martyr. The book can be found on Amazon, as I used KDP for this project. There were many reasons why I did this…
I wanted to see if it could earn that writing opportunity I’d been longing for
I wanted to see what other opportunities could come from it
I wanted to see if I could do it
Well, the book didn’t make me famous. It was a great thing to include on college applications, however, and opened a door to a hometown interview and minor connections in the world of author-social-media.
Most importantly, though, I was able to do it. I pushed myself farther than I ever had before.
But, would I do it again?
The stigma around self-publishing gets to me more than I would like to admit.
I’ve read that those who self-publish are not trying to make art. I’m not sure if I would describe my pursuits as art, but I wouldn’t discredit them as such either. Regardless of these generalizations, I’m beginning to worry that my writing is not worthy.
I wonder if my book isn’t worthy of being compared to other books, or that no one should spend money on it or even read it. I wonder if I’m not a good enough writer to ever get validated by the traditional publishing process.
The book is supposed to be the beginning of a trilogy, yet it continues to stand alone. There is a part of me that is afraid to continue.
I know I want to continue, searching for every new path I possibly can. I’ve read emails from a million publishing scams, and searched through pages and pages of publishing companies and literary agents only to find extremely competitive standards or “CLOSED FOR SUBMISSIONS.”
The current state of the literary world is exhausting to me. I have school, I have work, and I don’t have the time to create a brand new manuscript–let alone one that meets their standards. I may just have to wait… but I don’t want to. I want to be a writer today and it feels impossible.
I’ve recently turned to poetry for the first time.
For a while, I believed poetry was boring. The fun part of writing was story and character building, rather than a handful of lines. I did not want to pick specific, emotional words, I wanted to create brand new worlds.
As time passes, however, becoming more discouraged to tell my stories, the poetic words pour right out of me. It started as a form of therapy, perhaps, but I’m beginning to love the way it feels–morphing the verses together.
Breaking into the world of poetry isn’t any easier than being a novelist. Once again, I’ve searched through hundreds of literary magazines and poetry agents, yet continue to get the same feeling. Through this discouragement, though, I haven’t stopped writing poetry.
Maybe I’m meant to be a poet, maybe I’m meant to be a storyteller or journalist, maybe I’m meant to be all or none. Maybe I can put all my words together to spread empathy, or political change, like the poets and authors I look up to.
My book came from my heart, and I wanted to touch the hearts of others. My book came from watching our whole world change during the pandemic, and I wanted my emerging political views to be absorbed by the readers holding my book. I wanted to write it because it was calling me, just like my poetry is now. No matter how I format my words, they have meaning, and maybe I am meant to search for the meaning of the words rather than the format or the way it is read.
In all honesty, I’m not sure what I’m meant to do.
I can’t pull away from her eyes
Not green like emeralds
Spring’s first grass roots
A stanza from one of the poems I’m currently working on. As I write, ideas of publishing again pop into my head. I imagine re-inventing myself as a writer with my brand new work, going back to my story and introducing myself to the world all over again.
There is high stress in this new generation of writers and creatives. We have so many options and yet it feels like every door is closed.
I refuse to give up. Maybe I dreamed of being famous when I published that book a couple years ago, but now I dream of understanding why I write, discovering new forms like poetry, and building connections with those just like me.
If I had to share my wisdom, I’d say to just keep creating, no matter how stuck you feel. Keep writing, keep drawing, keeping singing, until it all makes sense. I know the opportunities we cannot even imagine will come to us.
It’ll be okay. We just need to stick together.
Check out Camille’s contributor bio, and encourage her by leaving a comment!
This is a publication that prides itself on celebrating the creative community. Creatives across all mediums share universal experiences, so by welcoming authentic voices, we hope to create a sense of community for all artists. We wish to make the experience of living the artist’s life a little less solitary.
Click here to view our plans for future events and what you can get for referring friends!
Do you have a story to tell? Consider pitching to us! Email firstname.lastname@example.org with “Pitch” as the subject heading.
You would be given complete creative freedom (written, or audio/visual). As long as you have a focus on providing:
(or anything in between)
For the creative community, it’s fair game!
We are thrilled to have you here and hope to see you again soon.