For mothers it is a common thing after giving birth -- the darkness known as postpartum depression. As an author, I assumed the birth of my published book would provide nothing but elation.
I was wrong. I was dead wrong.
My name is Timothy Kurek and in 2009 I set out on a journey that would forever change not only how I viewed God, but how I viewed "the other." Long story short, though I am a straight man, I came out as gay to my family, friends and church, and lived with the label of gay for a little over a year. It was a Black Like Me experience, and it shook me to the core. Over the next few years I wrote the story of that year, the result, my first book, The Cross in the Closet.
I didn't set out with high hopes for the book, but I did pray the book would stir conversation and maybe even change a few minds. Flash forward to October of 2012, and the book took off in a way none of us expected. Within days I was featured on ABCnews.com, CNN, Fox News Radio, The View and dozens of other national and international outlets. I was getting to hang out with Barbara Walters and Alan Colmes, and I even got to meet my big Hollywood crush, Hayden Panettiere! So this is what it felt like to be an author?
I was living a dream, and the haze of it all was intoxicating. For the first time in my life I felt as though I was doing something with my life and actually making a difference. I am a blessed man and have experienced so many wonderful things since the book came out. I spoke at a conference in Sydney, Australia, and all over the United States. Recently I was fortunate to speak at two different conferences in Rome, and was shocked by how relevant this message of grace and equality actually is all over the world. The U.S. isn't the only one debating this issue of gay rights, oh no, it is taking place in every country worldwide.
This last month has been my first off the road. I haven't spoken anywhere, or done any major interviews. And as life has gone back to what it was before, I find myself grasping for something. I'm not grasping for the interviews and talk shows, but instead for that project that I held so closely to me for over four years. I feel as though I'm lost without it, that now that it is alive and on its own in the world, there isn't much I can really do.
Do other writers feel this way?
The answer is yes.
The most terrifying moment for an author is not when one submits one's final draft or the day one's book is released. It is the day we have to ask ourselves "what's next?" As a first time author I was grossly ill-prepared for this.
Steven Pressfield, in his book, The War of Art, tells us that the only thing that separates the professional writers from the amateurs is that the professional knows it's not about one's skill, as much as it is about sitting down to write every day. It's a lesson I have to relearn as I set my sights on a new project, while continuing to do my due diligence in fostering the health and success of my first book. The Cross in the Closet wasn't a perfect book, by any means. It is a product of a flawed individual that couldn't help but ask "What if I was wrong all along?" and I know the same will be true of the next book and the book after that.
For now I am working out where to go from here, and it is comforting to know that I am not alone. If you are a writer, aspiring or otherwise, I take comfort knowing that you are out there, and that whatever our collective demons are, we can overcome them by sitting down and doing the work. I tell my friends that are aspiring authors not to write books unless they are insane enough to continually pour themselves out, knowing that there will always be a next book. I'll tell them now to grit their teeth and settle in for the long haul, because this postpartum depression is by far the most malicious internal state of being I've ever experienced.
If I could talk to a younger me, I would tell me that so far the best year of my life hasn't been the year my book came out. The best year of my life was when I sat hour upon hour at my local café and "bled" all over my laptop...
Now, I am going to pack my bag and go to Satellite Coffee in Tacoma, where I'll start a new project. Anyone care to join me?
The Cross in the Closet is available online and at your local book retailer.
Follow Timothy Kurek on Twitter: www.twitter.com/timothykurek