When I look at these book covers now, I see so much more than a girl who thought, “I’ve always wanted to write a book.”
I see years of friendship and support from my super agent. I see hours, days, and months of guidance from my editors, marketing team, and publisher. I see all the encouragement from the other writers and readers and strangers who helped me get here from there.
And I see the excitement in my husband’s eyes every time he holds my latest book in his hands and says, “This one is my favorite.”
This past year was bizarre in more ways than I can recall.
Moving out of our DC apartment back to FL. The pandemic. My husband’s mother losing her life to cancer. Quarantining in NH. Other hiccups and speed bumps along the way…
But here’s the most notable to me. After I earned my doctorate in June, about half a dozen people reached out to me and told me they wanted my life, asked me to share how they could get to where I am, sought my advice for their own career path, and shared how my experience influenced them. Me. An abandoned, adopted Asian immigrant who never thought someone else would want to be me. And I fully realize that’s not what they specifically meant, but the fact that someone saying, “Basically, I want to be you,” influenced me so deeply says a lot about me and my positionality.
So, I did not make this announcement lightly.
After harassment and ridicule, after losing an amazing influence in my career, and after letting down others and letting go of the heavy guilt, this year I expanded my role at The Seymour Agency to include representing authors. Again.
I’ve had too many dramatic experiences in publishing for me to be anything less than authentic by now. It’s taken me a long time, perhaps too long for some, to reach this side of the river. I’m back now because so many people asked me why I wasn’t taking advantage of my privilege. I never considered myself a privileged anything, but I’ve since learned to appreciate how fortunate I am and how I can use what I have to give back. I have an amazing opportunity to support content creators, and I needed to do more.
So, once again, thank you to everyone who shifts my perspective, who aids in my growth, and who supports my dreams.
As I reflect on this year and the years I’ve been blessed to live on this earth, I have come to this conclusion:
No matter how you label me – Marisa Cleveland, Ed.D. or Dr. Marisa Cleveland – no matter which title you use – wife, author, literary agent, executive director, professor, or trustee – I don’t have a job; I have a purpose.