Makenzie Campbell has been writing for most of her young life, her words always personal and locked away.
But that has changed in a big way as her passion has gone public.
After making a leap of faith and self-publishing a book of free verse, her introspective creations caught the professional eye of publishers who have helped polish “2 am Thoughts” and made it available to the world.
Campbell is 19, a 2018 graduate of Sumner High School and a college student in pursuit of a psychology degree from Washington State University. And, now, she can add “published poet” to the list.
The decision to make her most personal thoughts available to all didn’t come easily, but putting words on paper has always been a part of her life.
“I have been writing ever since I was a young girl,” she said in an email. “It has always been something that comes naturally to me.”
Campbell recalls writing and recording a song about the death of her grandfather when she was just 10. At age 13, she began writing fiction. Then, when she was 16, she turned to poetry and hasn’t looked back.
“All of these little poems were like secrets I kept stashed away,” Campbell said. “And for awhile I was fine with that.” But she began noticing upcoming authors who were writing free verse poetry and attracting the attention of publishers.
“That gave me a little spark of hope that my writing was valid and deserved to be more than a collector of dust,” she said.
Campbell began slowly, using a free self-publishing service called CreateSpace which, she explains, is partnered with Amazon. Her book was first released a little more than a year ago, in November 2017.
That first month, “2 am Thoughts” didn’t attract a lot of attention, netting just two sales.
That was just fine, Campbell said, because “I expected no one to buy it, especially since I refused to tell anyone except my parents because it’s a scary thing to allow yourself to be judged by people you know and see every day.”
There were times when she considered calling a halt to the publishing dream, but, “I thank the universe every day that I didn’t.”
Her words began to catch fire and attract notice. The first month’s tiny total jumped to 76 in December 2017 and then 505 just a month later.
“The progression continued exponentially,” Campbell said, noting that she now counts nearly 10,000 sales.
“But the miracles don’t stop there,” she adds.
During the past summer she received an email from James DeBono, a literary agent, who expressed an interest in representing “2am Thoughts.” At a coffee shop in Seattle, she met with DeBono and Courtney Peppernell, the successful author of the “Pillow Thoughts” collection. Both offered valuable tips and explained what steps Campbell should take in the publishing process. By October she was in touch with Michelle Halket of Central Avenue Publishing, who decided to take on the project.
After a week of editing and four weeks of printing, Campbell was able to announce that “2am Thoughts” would be available by mid-December at Barnes & Noble. It also can be found on Amazon.
“I never thought I’d end up on this path,” Campbell said. “I never even knew it existed, but I am so thankful that life led me here.”
In announcing the partnership, Central Avenue notes that “2 am Thoughts” was organized “to reflect and condense the progression of an entire romantic relationship into one night. It’s unique, heartbreaking, liberating.”
For Amazon, Campbell addresses readers with this personal message: “You are holding my heart in your hands. My emotions have bled out on each and every page with the ink of my pen. Your eyes will discover my soul. Your fingers casually flipping through my mind. I hope you find each delicate word as captivating as the stars. And I hope a piece of you feels the things I felt when creating this art.”
The poetry of “2 am Thoughts” condenses an entire relationship to a single day. As the long hours of the night drag on, so does the love, heartache, and loss. When the dawn breaks, the morning sun brings acceptance, healing and recovery.