Her First Ball





A debut year for any writer is exciting and joyful. And it can also be stressful, frightening, frustrating, and lonely. In my little corner of the world, it’s been hard for me to find other writers to connect with, although I’m lucky to have a small circle. Even if you live in a big city, though, with lots of different writers’ groups available, the odds of finding one who is publishing a debut at around the same time you are could still be pretty small.

And that’s why, when I saw The Debutante Ball advertising on Twitter that applications were open, I didn’t hesitate for a second. I thought it could be really fun to blog about the debut year, and it was also a chance to push myself a little bit out of my comfort zone. I am not a person who adores learning new things. I don’t even like going to new places—I freak about getting lost and finding parking. I’m one of those people who has to remind herself to jump in once in a while, to do something different or scary. Otherwise, I would never wiggle out of this comfortable little routine I’ve spent all these years finely honing for myself.

The first time I wrote a blog for The Debutante Ball was the first time I wrote a blog. We had instructions, but basically I had to learn how to navigate WordPress from scratch. I also took over the Instagram account, and I didn’t even have one of my own yet, so I learned all about pretty pictures and bookstagrammers and the judicious use of hashtags. I can say with confidence that I probably learned and tried more new things this year than in the previous five years combined. I never really even wrote for a deadline, certainly not professionally, and suddenly I was responsible to come up with at least one post a week, plus sometimes a guest. Learning all this new stuff was really good for me (and my aging brain). And now, as I hopefully embark on the next phase of this career and put out a second book, I have all this great experience under my belt. I could start my own blog. I can do more with my social media accounts. And I am now brazen enough to cold email famous writers and ask them if I can interview them. The worst they can do is ignore me!

The best thing about being on the Ball, though, is that it gave me a chance to share this journey with four other writers. Devi, Layne, Kai and Stephanie became my teammates. We’ve figured things out together, read each other’s books and reviewed them, and cheered each other on. Once I joined the debs, I felt like I had become part of this long line of writers who came before me, and I get to be part of the chain that continues, with new writers realizing their dream every year—what an honor. And after I was accepted into this group, I no longer felt like I was debuting alone.

Being part of the debutante ball also led me to the Debut Authors 19 facebook group, where an even wider circle of writer friends awaited me. Looking back, it’s hard for me to even imagine what it would have been like to go through this year out here on my own. Even though I’m admittedly a bit of a loner, I believe there are times when it’s much better to have help, or even just a friendly ear, than to struggle through solo. I am not big on asking for help, just like I am not big on trying new things. Thank goodness I didn’t follow my usual pattern this time. The debut year has been so much richer for me with these ladies as my friends, and if you qualify to apply for the ball, I highly recommend giving it a try.

Author: Martine Fournier Watson

Martine Fournier Watson is originally from Montreal, Canada, where she earned her master's degree in art history after a year spent in Chicago as a Fulbright scholar. She currently lives in Michigan with her husband and two children. The Dream Peddler is her first novel.

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