TALIA CLAY

Author

I started writing my book 7 years ago. I concocted a fake virus that would kill off most of the American population to create a situation in which white people would be the minority. Now, obviously none of that is happening exactly like that, but here we are amid a pandemic with the potential to kill hundreds of thousands if not millions of Americans and people across the globe.

I just wrote up a book summary to send to a potential editor. All I could think was, dang, elements of my book has come to life in the real world.

How can I possibly market and sell a book about a pandemic when we’re in the middle of one? And, won’t it be old news by the time I actually do get around to publishing the book? It almost feels like I’m trying to profit off of the horrible things happening in our society. In fact, I feel more pressure now to get my story out because of everything that’s happening.

I don’t want people to think I wrote this book because of COVID-19. I didn’t. This project is a long time coming, and its eventual release happens to coincide with a global pandemic.

And truth be told my book isn’t really about my “made-up” pandemic. It’s about racism. Self-esteem. Class. Socioeconomic status. Misogyny. Cultural appropriation. All the good stuff that comes up when you write about race. But what now? Can I honestly move forward without feeling like I’m pandering to the masses?

I’ve been seriously looking for an editor since January and I’ve had multiple setbacks. I wanted to give away free copies of the first 10 chapters of my book. I wanted to convince you that the rest of the story was worth publishing and crowdfund the money I needed to make it happen. But now that goal seems far away, pointless even. Our capitalist society is kicking and screaming while COVID-19 tries to put it down. Why does a single book about the social implications of being a minority matter when most of us just want to stay alive? How can I justify publishing this story?

I wanted to relate an experience I had growing up with others who may have had a similar experience. I wanted to let people know they weren’t the only ones feeling worthless because they were a token. I wanted to explain how I couldn’t be myself because “my self” wasn’t accepted. But how can matters of self-esteem compare to life and death?

As much as I want to grieve my project, say it was for another time, I can’t let it go. I don’t know what will happen in the future. I don’t think we’ll ever go back to the way things were before. America as we know it is done. But I still want to publish my book.

The societal structures of racism haven’t gone away. We are now just seeing them in different ways.

What projects do you feel are irrelevant now that the pandemic has hit? How are you staying motivated to keep working? Let me know in the comments below.

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