I am so sorry for my very long absence. I sort of fell right off the blog world and into a dark, lonely place called the "the hole of no writing!" It was horrible.
I wish I could tell you some magical story about how not writing for a year -- YES! one whole year -- produced a bunch of scribbles on virtual paper that amount to a book. Or that the eight, you read that right, eight different beginnings to Evade (SEEK book 2) were a year well spent...
..but alas, no. Though, I am writing steadily now, so stay tuned for more on that.
However, I am not here to talk about that. I'm writing this blog not to brag or teach, not to cheer you on or pump you up (which all writers need so "You can do it! Keep going!), but to tell you about my own personal battle with myself.
After I published Search (SEEK book 1), I dedicated much of my time to promoting it. As a good author does...
That's my job, right? I mean that's what all the big writing blogs tell self published authors to do, right? Promote the heck out of your book!!!! If you're not on twitter with at least one hundred million followers and you're not blogging everyday and you're not posting, posting, posting, tweeting and hashtagging on your Instagram, then you're never going to sell any books!
I had no life. No time to write a grocery list let alone my next three books.
I was exhausted. I felt like a complete failure. I'd social media-ed my way to #6 in my book's category (temporarily), I'd done it! Hooray. But the moment I'd take a day to spend with my kids and family, my book would slip #64, #98, #102.
Oh, no I'm off the top 100! No one will find my book here.
And then came the remorse. The comparing myself to every other writer above me.
"How are they doing it?" I'd tearfully ask my husband.
He'd say something supportive. Offer a million reasons why I wasn't measuring up to my competition...
Did you catch it?
I was thinking of other books and other authors as my competition.
That's where I went wrong. Only I didn't know it then. I was looking at my writing as a sell-off. Of course I was miserable. And who wouldn't be depressed comparing themselves to names like Collins, Rowling, Asher and Roth? It didn't matter that they had seemingly endless marketing budgets, I still felt I should be able to measure up.
All I needed was my time, right?
So naturally I became discouraged when my kids, house, husband and school took more and more of my focus (as it should be!). I spent a small fortune publishing this book, how could I not advertise it?
Mistake number two. Again, I learned the hard way. And one more thing to drag me further and further away from writing, away from all the things I loved. Until finally, I was numb and just stopped caring if anyone ever bought my book, ever read my book. In order to protect myself from the pain of my own self-perceived failure I withdrew from everything in the book world. I canceled book signings, deactivated accounts on social media and just stopped writing almost completely (I don't know that I'm capable of not writing anything, it's how I make sense of my world) but I wasn't being productive.
I was hurting. Heartbroken that I'd let myself down. I'd done my research. I knew how to sell books, so I thought. But when it came to choosing between spending time with my family or sitting at the computer to plug my book and slog my blog, I chose family.
No matter how hard I tried I couldn't find that balance.
For a long time I couldn't understand why. Why couldn't I be like other authors who are also moms. They really had it all together. They were advertising, blogging, vlogging, and they had kids. It had to be me.
I spent a good six months thinking that was true. But I was also still thinking that I was in competition with the world. But around the six month no-writing mark I received a letter. A wonderful letter. A letter from a fan. A young girl, eleven years old (my target audience!) had read Search and was so in love with it, she took the time to write an actual letter on notebook paper with purple ink. It was the most wonderful thing! And after lines of praise from my sweet fan she reminded me how much she was looking forward to the next book.
Oh, great. I've failed again. First, I felt as though I hadn't sold enough books, that no one cared about them and now I realized, while my numbers weren't in the millions (or even the tens of thousands) I had still sold a good number of books and there were people--kids, the people I started writing for in the first place--reading and liking my book and waiting for book two.
That's when I realized I'd been such a fool. A self-absorbed fool. More concerned with the numbers than the people. I was ashamed. I'd let everyone down.
But that shame on top of the guilt did nothing to pull me out of my hole. And to make matters worse, more people--more fans! I had fans? What?--kept contacting me, asking how the next book was coming.
If I'd been writing like good little author should, I would've been thrilled. Instead, I just kept wondering what the hell was wrong with me. Comparing myself to everyone else every chance I got. And yes, I'm ashamed to admit it, I even punished myself for publishing my book in the first place.
It no longer mattered that it had been my lifelong dream realized. It didn't matter that it was something I should've been proud of no matter what, because let's face it, not everyone has the Chutzpah to write a book.
But you know the real kicker about this deep dark hole of no writing I'd dug myself?
It was so unlike me. I'm not a Debbie Downer. I'm not even a frowner. I'm a cheerful and positive thinker who is always smiling and even in the midst of this sad pity party I was still happy, in real life. Until someone would ask how my writing was going.
"Oh, I'm working on a few things," I'd say without my usual upbeat smile.
So, how was I going to drag myself out of it? Where had I gone wrong? I started thinking, analyzing, critiquing my own performance as an author. And for a long time I didn't get it. And the answer to unlock my jail of wordless sorrow came gradually at first, and then all at once.
"I am not writing to impress other authors. I owe them nothing," I said it out loud to myself.
That's when I realized how I'd been viewing my work.
I finally understood why I felt as though I'd somehow failed. I had been so strong and so brave as I battled my dyslexia to learn to write, I'd kept my resolve while I studied and suffered through my degree in English Lit. I'd taken the time and money to have a professional edit my work, to have a professional format it, to have a professional design the cover with a professional model by a professional photographer (thanks, Honey for funding my dream!).
I'd put all of my book's success or failure on my shoulders. I'd hired pros to do everything else. It had to be me. Right?
I own that.
But then why was I such a wreck even when it was doing well? And if I'd willing stopped advertising twenty-four seven, why did think that it was my poor book's failure?
It wasn't until I was honest with myself that I really understood my misery. Yes, I wrote the book . I hadn't yet understood that I'd also been searching for validation, an atta boy, good job, I guess you're not dyslexic after all from the people in my past.
Which, makes absolutely no sense at all! Were my teachers supposed to come back from the dead and tell me how proud they were of me for finally finishing my nine grade project? PLEASE DON'T MR. EDWARDS, I BEG YOU! DON'T HAUNT ME!
But essentially that's what it was. I had this dream as a small child, that I would someday show everyone that I wasn't stupid just because I had a learning disability. That someday I'd be able to read and write and one day I'd show the world the wonderful stories that had been hiding in my head...
And I did. But the world didn't care.
And now that I know that's what I was expecting. I no longer care. Because that was a little girl's dream. I'm not that little girl anymore. I'm not alone anymore. I'm not trapped in a world I don't understand anymore. I can read and write and I wrote book.
Thanks for reading my painful awakening. And for anyone who might be out there wondering... I am writing Evade (SEEK book 2). I'm loving it so far thanks to one sweet girl who wrote to me again with her awesome ideas.
Selene, I've put your ideas to good use and I can't wait to share them with you!