What Lara Lillibridge Got Out Of Being on the Debutante Ball

Last month, the final Deb Class of 2018 book hit the shelves. It was Julie Clark’s debut novel, THE ONES WE CHOOSE. When I finally held Julie’s book in my hands for the first time, I cried. I didn’t cry the first time I saw my own book, but I sure cried over Julie’s book. My fellow Deb’s successes feel just as good as my own—perhaps better, because I don’t have that uncomfortable-everyone is looking at me element.


I discovered the Debutante Ball through Lynn Hall, part of the Deb class of 2017. I heard her speak at HippoCamp, a conference for creative nonfiction, right before her memoir, CAGED EYES:An Air Force Cadet’s Story of Rape and Resilience came out. I started following her on the Debutante Ball, then her fellow debut authors as well. I applied to be part of the 2018 class, and was so excited when I was accepted—I had never been in a sorority or club or anything before, and I liked the idea of being part of a group of women writers who were all committed to helping each other succeed.

Then the terror set in. I’m a dreamer, not a doer. I’m a “someday we should…” kind of person, not someone who makes firm plans and keeps them.  Just what had I committed myself to? And what, exactly, was I going to get out of this? How could I possibly commit to do something for several hours every single week for a year? How could this possibly pay off?

Luckily, my fear of confrontation kept me from voicing my fears to anyone. I moved forward with trepidation, and soon was enmeshed in a group of women all going through the same experience at the same time. The five of us have spent the past 10 months discussing cover designs, reading each other’s forthcoming work, lamenting over reviews, chatting about publicity, promotion, events, and generally cheering each other on. It got me to read outside my genre, something that has changed my own writing, and it’s forced me to keep a regular blogging and social media schedule.

But beyond our Deb Class, what has really touched me is how the former Debs have reached out to us newbies and not only made themselves available for questions, but actively cheered us on on social media.  I’ve leaned on the former Debs as well as the current class with pre-publication woes. Having someone go through this same experience just a little ahead of me has given me a host of “big sisters” to appropriate a term from the sorority life I never experienced.

I feel like women writers have this super power—the support of other women writers. I’ve really come to feel this on a deeper level after going through my debut year. I would’ve been much more anxiety-ridden and I mean M.U.C.H. more, and I was pretty anxiety-ridden as it was.

And the work I was so afraid of? I’m going to miss it. It’s given me a structure to my days, and as Social Media Maven, making memes was a solid way to avoid working on things and still feel as if I wasn’t screwing off.

Are you a female or non-binary author with a release coming out between September 2018 and August 2019? Apply to join the Class of 2019!


Author: Lara Lillibridge

Lara Lillibridge sings off-beat and dances off-key. She writes a lot, and sometimes even likes how it turns out. Her memoir, Girlish, available for preorder on Amazon, is slated for release in February 2018 with Skyhorse Publishing. Lara Lillibridge is a graduate of West Virginia Wesleyan College’s MFA program in Creative Nonfiction. In 2016 she won Slippery Elm Literary Journal’s Prose Contest, and The American Literary Review's Contest in Nonfiction. She has had essays published in Pure Slush Vol. 11, Vandalia, and Polychrome Ink; on the web at Hippocampus, Crab Fat Magazine, Luna Luna, Huffington Post, The Feminist Wire, and Airplane Reading, among others. Read her work at www.LaraLillibridge.com