Author Archives: Lily Myers

About Lily Myers

Lily Myers is a writer, feminist, and witch. Her debut novel, This Impossible Light, is out June 6 from Philomel. She lives in Seattle with her corn snake, Calliope H. Danger.

Can I Really Be An Author?

ed7fec70-79c7-0134-cdfe-0aec1efe63a9.pngToday, my first-ever novel is officially out in the world. It’s real. It’s published. It’s in hardback. This has been my dream ever since I was very little. It always seemed clear to me that the best possible job was to be an author. Getting to make up stories for a living? Sign me up! I’ve always loved books as physical objects, and reading has been my favorite activity since I was in grade school. I always idolized my favorite authors, fantasizing about the awesome, creative lives they must lead.

Today I can really say it: I am an author. But it’s funny how even now, now that there is official proof, I still don’t quite believe it. It’s hard to even write that sentence without a reflexive little voice that goes: “Oh really? Who do you think you are?” 

I never used to think I’d doubt myself as an author. I thought if I published a book I’d feel worthy, and that was that. I never expected that sneaky imposter feeling to arise. As I wrote about in my last post, throughout the creative process of this book, I constantly questioned whether I could actually do it. I sort of felt like I was pretending the whole time. When people would say, “You’re writing a book?” I’d brush it off. “Well, I’m attempting, anyway,” I’d say. I sort of always had this feeling that it didn’t count. I was just lucky, I’d tell myself. I was in the right place at the right time. Or, they think I can write a book but really I can’t. 

But as we wrapped up the final rounds of editing, I felt something shifting. After reading and re-reading the manuscript so many times, being so close to it for so long, I finally realized something seemingly obvious: this is real. This is not a drill! This is a real book. It’s not pretend. It’s not a meaningless Word document. It’s meaningful to me, and so much work has gone into it, and it will soon exist in the wider world.

In that moment, I realized that even though I didn’t always believe in myself as an author, I did believe in the story of the book. I do believe in Ivy, the book’s protagonist, who in many ways is a version of my younger self. I believe in the emotions that Ivy feels, and I believe in her journey. She is very real to me. So for her sake, I must believe in this book. I must believe in myself.

I will always have moments of doubt– of thinking, can I really be an author?– but I will always strive to tell stories that are important to me, because writing and reading stories is still my absolute favorite thing to do. I will have countless more day jobs, and a million unglamorous moments, and unfinished drafts, and plenty of creative self-doubt, but I won’t deny what is now true: I’m an author. I think my little self, curled up alone reading all day, would be very pleased.

Lily Myers is a writer, feminist and witch from Seattle, Washington. Her debut novel, This Impossible Light, is out today from Philomel. She blogs about self-love and feminism at The Shapes We Make.

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Writing Through Doubt: How This Impossible Light was Born

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My debut book’s path to publication was an unusual and lucky one. During my sophomore year of college, as part of the Wesleyan University slam poetry team, I performed my poem “Shrinking Women” at the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational. The poem discussed the way girls learn to shrink, both physically and metaphorically; how we learn not to take up space, learn from the women who came before us that, as women, we must be small. It’s about watching our mothers shrink and learning to mimic them.

While I was studying abroad the following fall, the video went viral. I remember my surprise at returning from a trip to the North Argentinean desert, reconnecting to the internet, and seeing that my poem had more than a million views on YouTube. Soon after that, I heard from Liza Kaplan, an editor at Philomel, who was interested in speaking. We spoke several times, and after she attended a poetry performance of mine at the Women’s Therapy Centre Institute in New York, she offered me a contract for a yet-to-be-created novel.

I was, of course, ecstatic. I’ve wanted to write books my whole life. I’ve been a voracious bookworm since teaching myself to read at age four, and my dream career has always been author, but I never quite dared to believe I was capable of doing it. After all, it’s scary to believe you’re capable of your dream, right? ‘Cause then you actually have to go for it.

This was the constant question in my mind in the two years following, during the writing of This Impossible Light: Am I capable of this? Can I write a book? Sometimes, I thought so; other times, I was positive I sucked at this and Liza had made a huge mistake and the book would be a flop. I doubted myself through every round of edits, but I put in the work because I also loved it. And I wanted to prove to myself that I could.

I also needed to tell this story. Ivy’s story is her own, but it is also my story: the story of a girl, in the middle of adolescence, whose family dissolves before her eyes, who is left to her own devices, who takes out the resulting pain on her own body. This is the story of This Impossible Light, and it’s the story of me, and I wanted to tell it, so I had to work through the doubt.

It wasn’t until the book was officially done that I felt pride. That I re-read the novel and felt Ivy’s pain, her loneliness, and her hope, and I cried. Because her hope was my hope. And I’d proven to myself that I could do it. Regardless of how the book is received, I am proud of the way I’ve told this story.

I’m thrilled that come June, This Impossible Light will be a physical object in my hands, that I can point to it in a bookstore and whisper to my younger self: You did it.

 

LILY MYERS is a writer, feminist and witch. Her debut novel, This Impossible Light, is out June 6 from Philomel. She lives in Seattle with her baby corn snake, Calliope H. Danger.

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