Last week marked 3 months since my book officially released in paperback form, back in early June!
👉 In case you missed it, you can find my book, The Creator Revolution, here.
(Although, it is memorialized on Amazon that my ebook was released on May 4th, so Star Wars Day will forever be tied to a piece of my writing — an unintentional but nonetheless joyous outcome…)
If you had asked me 3+ months ago what these pivotal post-launch months would look like, I would have imagined a summer of pride and celebration, laced with the unbeatable thrill of crossing a marathon’s finish line. Perhaps I would have regaled you with my grand plans of publishing article excerpts, giving talks, holding book signings, launching a TikTok account for my book, and even speaking on 104 podcasts (one for every day of the summer, as Phineas and Ferb once famously said).
Philosopher Søren Kierkegaard wrote that “Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.” I experienced the reality of life when the last 3 months looked nothing like what I had envisioned (and maybe what many of you also imagined when seeing the happy announcements I post on Twitter/LinkedIn). I want to use this space to reflect the truth of what it looked like behind the scenes: instead of feeling on top of the world, I felt like I was constantly falling.
Burnout is not a new slice of reality to me. In my book, I briefly mentioned how I experienced heavy burnout as a former creator, sacrificing school and free time to obsessively grow my fanbase and pushing myself to keep going after hitting milestone after milestone. At Harvard, students are terrible at saying “no” and thus often burn out as quickly as the ghost of the flame wavering on a birthday candle melting in front of the camera’s panicking eye.
However, book burnout turned out to be an avalanche of reality that I was not ready to shoulder. After 1.5 years of researching and writing the book, there was nothing more I wanted to do than sit back and relax. But there was no relaxation afforded. Selling a book requires more theatrics than writing a manuscript does (and far more energy and thought, because marketing isn’t what most writers enjoy doing — it’s writing and storytelling). On top of battling intense burnout and exhaustion, my paperback release occurred days after the end to a 2.5-year long romantic relationship. Last year I had sought to seek discomfort; I guess the universe is helping me get there by helping me experience reality — a lot of it — all at once.
It felt like I was dropped into a secret marathon after the original marathon, because I had actually parked my car 204 blocks away from the finish line. But that parking lot was also closing in 10 minutes. So if I wanted to reach the car to go home, I needed to sprint at a 200% level with the faint wisps of energy I already had remaining.
I decided to forget the car and to walk home at my own pace, however long that would take me.
Thus I skipped a whole month of book marketing — the first month post-launch! — at what was supposed to be the pinnacle. If a book journey was mapped onto a movie storyline, this was the climax — the moment the protagonist made it and achieved their dreams after the first two acts of obstacles and doubt and tears (that never stain their makeup).
What did I do that month instead? Night after night I lay on my bed in a vertical L shape, legs outstretched and pressed flat upwards against the wall, as I watched yet another cookie-cutter young adult coming-of-age movie on Netflix that I would forget the storyline of mere days later. During the day, when I wasn’t working at my remote internship, I would take long walks around my neighborhood. Those were my favorite parts of every day, periods I had to myself to heal my energy and restore my creativity, when I could just tiptoe on sidewalk curbs while I listened to stand-up comedy sets and — in a move unheard of by the generation of text-first and calendar-obsessed 20-somethings — spontaneously called friends.
It took more than a month for me to finally pick back up into the cycle of book marketing and begin to give book talks, speak on podcasts, and plan relevant initiatives. Does the guilt of not pushing myself to sell my book as productively and widely as I could have still gnaw away inside me every day? Yes, 100%. But do I regret how I used that time instead? No, absolutely not. My book will always be out there, but I, as a being, won’t always be whole. So for now I’d like to keep myself just as I am, able to fully love and care for my family and friends, for just a little bit longer.
I originally wrote this piece to unmask the glitz and glamor of social media and pen an authentic reflection of my journey then and up to now. But the more I wrote, the more I realized that I never properly celebrated my book’s release either — so this Substack essay also serves as a celebration! A celebration of the culmination of a long journey, and the many puzzle pieces of reality experienced.
But I can’t complete this celebration without you. Each and every one of you out there who has supported me throughout this book ride has been just as essential to this journey as me, if not more: those of you who were part of my Indiegogo pre-order campaign, the strangers who bought my book and took time to send me emails and messages reflecting your learnings and opinions (e.g. the stranger in the tweet below who presented The Creator Revolution at their company 🥺), any and all friends and supporters along the way, including you for reading this long piece — thank you.
👀 What’s next for me? I’ve began my first steps into my final year at Harvard, barely clutching onto the edges of youthful transience before true adulthood, while also embracing the new adventures ahead. A friend recently told me how school has been a side hustle for me the last few years, which is a very true statement — maybe this is the year I’ll give school a little more focus? (knowing me, probably not…) (and sorry to my parents, who I know secretly read my Substack…) I am proud of what I’ve created with my book, but I also don’t want to only be known for it, so I’m gradually moving on and exploring new ideas and projects, both creative and technical. Stay tuned for more writings and reflections on here as I continue to piece together my next chapter (and figure out more clearly what I’d like to use my Substack for going forward) :)
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You can buy my book here and find me on Twitter @catherinehyeo. Please feel free to leave a comment if you have any thoughts/feedback; I read every comment I receive 🥰
Congratulations on your book, and I’ll be very excited to see what you decide to do next. Maybe writing that book was meant to give you all the knowledge you need for what’s next!
Hey, congrats on your book launch.