I had the idea for my story long before I even started writing it. It started as a memory that evolved to symbolic realization, and then voila! I had created something. To protect the identity of my friend, the names in this story have been changed.
It was a sunny day in my memory. The field of my middle school was green, with an awaiting breath of summer. My friend Hannah and I along with our posse were talking about everything and anything when we came across our first interaction with sex. We witnessed two butterflies going at it. Of course, we didn’t know this at first. We thought they were stuck together. Once we realized, we all started giggling, watching in disgusted awe.
While I can still remember this moment perfectly, it wasn’t exactly this moment that was the pivotal element in my story. Hannah was. We were best friends. We even shared a notebook we mailed to each other over the summer, when we lived less than five miles apart.
As we got older, we found different interests and slowly drifted away from one another, still remaining on friendly terms. We started changing. As my hair grew reckless and wild with curls, Hannah cut hers short. As Hannah joined the robotics team and aced calculus tests, I blazed the theatrical stage with comical characters.
Then suddenly we were at senior year, singing our awaited goodbyes as we propelled towards “total” independence. And suddenly, Hannah became Mike.
Now while this did come as somewhat of a surprise, I can’t say it was an overwhelming one. I think an inner part of me had always known that something was blooming inside Hannah, just waiting to burst forward as Mike.
So back to that moment with the butterflies. I’ve always found the process of a caterpillar to a butterfly intriguing. In high school, where a frizzy-haired halo and overeager smile weren’t exactly popular, I think I prayed I’d eventually become that pretty butterfly.
But then suddenly, I had a different idea. While verging on the sexist line, I seemed to always categorize certain animals as specific genders: so while cats are always female, dogs are always male (in my mind at least). Obviously, I needed to study my facts.
I was thinking about Mike and this memory of butterflies and I thought, well, caterpillars are male and butterflies are female and Mike is transgender and that is beautiful.
So that’s how I came up with my story.
Once written I decided to self publish it after not having much feedback in sending it.
The biggest issue with self-publishing is that you don’t feel completely supported. It starts becoming more about the money than your book. In my case, I was always being transferred to new people, some of whom did not speak English very well. Others told me contradictory information to what I had just been told. In one case, I was told my book would sell for $13.99 then suddenly someone else was telling me it was now $16.99. I had to make a website to resell it for a more realistic price.
Probably the most frustrating part was that they didn’t even look at my book. I was told I should put the font on my illustrations, which would have looked terrible.
All in all, I think I should have been more careful. While I did do some research, I didn’t do as much as I could have. Also I was so anxious just to get it done. When you let time be the top variable, it’s easier to make mistakes and lose more money that way.
But while there were definitely many difficulties, I’m still proud of myself. Well, until I look at my bank account.
But when it comes down to it, I can at say I’m a published author. Maybe this wasn’t about paying for the book so much as paying for a life lesson: don’t trust people just because you’re anxious to get something done; trust your intuition. Also, ask for help. There’s nothing wrong with asking someone to help you break free your own cocoon, and then fly away.
Dorothy England can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org