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Fantastic Beasts | S.D. Henke

I’m not exaggerating when I say that this past year could qualify as a certain kind of beast. One who’s sustenance required a sort of burning down and rising back up to meet the demands of life, work, and an evolving industry. I liken my growth over the past year as a writer to something akin to the rise and fall of the Phoenix. The good news is, in this business, much like the archetype of the ancient mythos, writers are made to rise again out of the ashes.

As I sit here to reflect on the aftermath of entering the query trenches, a publishing contract, purchase with two new manuscripts in final revision, and the successful launch of my niche market book, I enter a new year ready to own it. From where I sit perched on the pyre of my own making, I’m doing exactly what I set out to achieve. I’ve accomplished more in the last decade than I ever deemed possible and my entry into this new territory no longer scares me. I’m ready and willing to meet my potential in the light the fire I made for myself.

Time to burn, baby burn!

With newfound wisdom, I’ll own that other pesky little things that go in step with reality. I’ve learned how to pay heed to my critics, without letting it cripple me. I’ll continue to respect, love and care for the part of me that remains a fragile bird, knowing that what I create grows out of that same fire. I’ll continue to feed the passion inside knowing it’s impossible to extinguish, and although it may not turn out to be the exact fantasy lift-off I imagined, I will allow myself to fly again.

What I embrace about the real world is that readers don’t just swoop in like clamoring knights in shining armor to save the day, and the morphing market has its own fickle tastes. I CHOOSE to live in this world, and it’ll continue to be MY job to do the work, the research, and reach out to convince my audience that they are better off with my stories than without. And although this does require a certain amount of redressing myself in more extravagant feathers to do a little bird dance to capture their attention, I’ll hold on to my origins with a deeper conviction. The fact that my writing continues to be the deepest, most precious part of who I am gives me back my true identity. I wear these feathers as a testament to my own reawakening and innermost integrity.

Branding, marketing, and selling my books while selling myself as an author is a careful balancing act but one I will face with authenticity at the forefront of this process. The ‘Why’ of what I do isn’t as daunting as it once appeared. While it’s still as mystifying a creature as it ever was, I aim to seek out a broader horizon engaging in ways I’ve never dreamed I could. I carry a torch of immense gratitude for the people in the industry who continue to assist and support me. They are the ones who prod me on, the gate keepers, and light benders. I wish to thank you!

Flight among Fantastic Beasts within the writing realm doesn’t have to be the treacherous journey I once feared. Today, I stand ready to accept the challenge as I’m prepared to reach a bit higher. These past seven years spent plotting and planning, hours crafting away at the best stories possible, and the elation over victories both great and small weren’t efforts made in vain. I have learned from these rare and often unpredictable opportunities and from the mistakes I’ve made. I continue to grow as I come to discover the regenerative beauty in the cycle for where the stories come to live in my heart. This year, I set an intention to engage with my Why—the Why that speaks to the origins and purpose of my stories and their right to exist in this world, a world where we can all unleash our own Fantastic Beast.

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