In March 2018, I published a book called You Are Not Alone. It is an anthology of 56 stories of women and men from around the world who shared their experiences of sexual assault, abuse, and harassment.
They shared their stories with me, a complete stranger. They put their faith in me, to trust that I would treat them with respect, believe their stories, value their contribution, and trusted that I would protect their identities.
I spent several months collecting stories, editing them, choosing the order, finding famous feminists to call out in the pages, changing the formatting, pouring over every single page to make sure it was right.
I spent hours tweaking and making sure the cover was perfect, days and weeks editing the stories and making sure they all remained true to the amazing contributors who trusted me with their secrets.
I researched as many organizations and resources as possible that provide support to victims and survivors, so the book could be a resource for those who needed it.
These contributors put their pain on the page in the hopes that someone would read it and feel that they were truly not alone in their pain, confusion, anger, and sometimes shame.
I did my absolute best to make sure I responded personally and individually to every single person who contributed or had questions. I offered support, a listening ear, and encouraged some of them to tell their parents and/or the police.
In the almost two years since that book’s release, I have received many more stories from people who need to share and be heard and believed.
I’ve received messages and emails from people telling me what this book means to them and how they feel more understood and hopeful.
Despite the graphic and terrible nature of the stories, many readers spoke to me of feeling hopeful, triumphant, and most importantly, not alone in the world. They now know that out there, someone else has experienced the same thing and feels the way they do.
I’ve had counselors and therapists and school librarians reach out to me to let me know they believe it is a powerful tool for victims and survivors.
In an era of #cantrelate, #metoo makes sure people can relate, feel a part of something, and know they are truly not alone.
The impact of that book has not finished being felt and I could not, from the bottom of my heart and soul, appreciate the contributors more for allowing me to tell their stories.
Now, in 2020, I am finally putting together a second volume.
I want to call this next one We Are Not Alone. Because we aren’t. No one is truly alone and I am so thankful that the first book allowed people all over the world to see that.
This next book will have 56 new stories, many of which have never been shared before, of depravity, predatory behavior, and sexual violence.
Is it an easy topic to read about? No.
Is it necessary, raw, real, and important? Yes.
It’s not easy, as an editor, to read and edit these stories, to put them together and have to read them over and over again. To put on my editor hat and try to disassociate the content from the human beings behind the stories to edit it and put it all in a cohesive book.
But I didn’t do it for ease. Or simplicity. Or accolades.
I love this book, this series. I am wildly passionate about it. I am passionate to use my platform in a way that truly makes an indelible positive impact on our world.
Not to see my own name in print, as I have other books and blogs. Not for money, as I make very little off of book sales. Not for prestige, as I can get that through other, easier avenues.
But for the deeply humbling experience of being told that what I created made a difference in someone’s life.
That’s all a writer can truly hope for in this career. To make an IMPACT. A real, true, indescribable positive impact on the world around me.
Thank you so much for trusting me with your stories. Book 2 is being put together now and will be out sometime in 2020.
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