This is deep water. You should probably wear a life jacket.
Sometimes I get so wrapped up in wondering how people will perceive my words, and in the involvement that comes along with creating stories, that I forget how much I love a good moment to sit down, shut my mind off, and enjoy the simplicity that is just writing to write.
I’m going to take you on a little journey here.
One year ago, nearly to the day, I was celebrating my success with my friends. My success came in an odd form. I wrapped up Hide and Seek Her and found a self-publishing company to help release it to the world. The gleam of my dreams matched the one in my eyes. I was happy. I was wrapped up in releasing my words to the world, something I had only even dreamed of doing. You see, when I started Hide and Seek Her, I was 20. I was young and wrote for one reason; because I liked it. I wrote with no intention of publishing. I wrote because I always have, and because I liked to read. So one year ago, I had big plans on the horizon.
When Hide and Seek Her released, I had a wonderful and immense amount of support from family and friends. It was humbling. I loved every single word of encouragement I received, and the first time I signed a book for a friend, I nearly cried. My celebrations did not last long, because I quickly realized how much work went into marketing my book, talking about my book to the “book world”, and reaching out to bloggers and event coordinators to try and get the word out about it.I lost sight of writing, and took in spreading my already written words instead.
And then, the shit-show started.
I received a lot of rudeness and critique from several people, including authors, who didn’t take me seriously because of the mistakes in my work. They laughed at me, and I know some of the people I confided in, spoke about me in private messenger groups. People always find things out, and it was disheartening to learn that.I received comments like;
“Your story might be good, if it didn’t have errors.”
“Didn’t you invest in an editor?”
“I can’t take you seriously, because the grammar is bad.”
“I did not finish this, because your work is mediocre and needs re-edited.”
“Your ability is there, you just really need to improve if you want anyone to like your words.”
Slowly but surely, my heart to started to crack. I doubted my abilities. I doubted what I was doing. I doubted my desire to write. I didn’t feel good enough for the “book world” and let me tell you, it is vast. It is intimidating. It is scary. I cried.
And then I stood up.
I approached book two with a new found respect for trying to do better. I found a team of women, whose encouragement has never faltered. Murphy at Indie Solutions, gave me the confidence to produce a beautiful cover and to build myself up from the ground. Elaine York at Allusion Graphics, gave my confidence a face lift. She told me how much she liked my stories, and offered to help in any way she could, because she believed in me. These were two women in the book world, who pushed me to do good things. And so I tried.
Although I was more satisfied with Finders Keep Her, I was still distraught. I was still focusing more on getting people to read it than anything else. I was making teasers, and I still have no fucking idea how to do that properly. I was pushing it on readers, bloggers, and anyone who wanted it. I was visiting the post office more than once a week and shipping books to places I had never heard of. I was excited to spread my words, but at some point I realized, I wasn’t focusing on writing, I was focusing on marketing. This isn’t something I wrote stories for. This wasn’t going to be something I continued to do. This was going to change.
And so I decided to start swimming hard…again.
I recently sat down one night after work, and poured a glass of wine. It was white, and it was delicious. It tasted like the past. I finished Every Pane of Glass with the taste of that wine in my mouth. I focused so hard on writing that book, that I think it came out beautiful. I cried when I wrote “The End”. I bawled my fucking eyes out. I loved it though. This is what it used to be like for me. Writing until midnight and getting up for work all giddy like because I wrote a decent chapter. I still had a life outside of the internet book world, too. I went out with friends. I laughed at bad jokes. I drank vodka tonics, and went gambling. The world went on. I could not and would not let the idea of pushing a book on people, take over my life. I just wanted to write again because I loved it, and I think I’m slowly getting there.
Once I figured all that out, things got better.
And here we are. One year later, and I’ve come full circle. I went from feeling good, to doubting myself, to hearing the doubt others had for me, to confronting that doubt, to still pushing onward, and kicking against the current.
I’m not perfect. I’m far from it, and I like things that way. Perfection can be perfect hell. Andrew McMahon said that, and he’s right.
I respect the authors and the writers who light themselves on fire at the mercy of becoming something grand. I respect the hard work they pour into their words, marketing, and whatever comes next. I respect the writers who aspire to be bestsellers. Hell we ALL want that. But you can be a bestseller at ten books, or ten thousand. Numbers shouldn’t matter. It should boil down to whether or not you’re happy with your words or not, and whether or not you will keep going or not. People’s opinions of you shouldn’t change your dream. Keep fucking going. Seriously. Don’t let the thoughts of other’s kill your hopes or dull your flame. Keep writing books. Or creating whatever art you want to create. You may love your art, and someone will hate it. That’s okay. You’re not creating for anyone else. You’re creating for YOU. Get your passion out there and live it.Someone will hate your art, someone will cry over it, someone will love it, someone will buy it, someone will trash it, someone will contact you over it, someone will rip you apart on social media over it, and you will keep creating because you can. I will keep creating.
This is deep I know…but I warned you.
These last six months have been rough. Really rough. I’ve doubted myself more than ever because of the words I’ve seen, read, or heard from others. I refuse to doubt myself any longer. I refuse to let anyone make me feel like I don’t have it. I almost lost my Mojo because of meanness. I almost threw in the towel, and then I said no. I’ve got this. If people want to judge me because my stories aren’t “romantic enough”, or “sexy enough”, or even “the in” genre, then I don’t want them to read my words anyway. I’m going to keep going. I will still be here. If you want to judge my passion based on my first published work, then okay. But don’t you dare try to take my passion from me. No one has that power. And to those of you who are aspiring writers and are reading this; don’t you dare ever give up. Don’t let bloggers, readers, or authors make you feel like you shouldn’t be here. Don’t let them tell you you’re average. They were average once, too. I’m not saying ignore the negativity. Sometimes you need to listen to what people say. Take constructive criticism and use it. Take it with a grain of salt. Don’t you dare take negativity from people just wanting to make you feel bad.
Where am I going with all of this? Up. That’s where I am going. I’m going upwards, because I have learned that nothing can hold me down in the depths of the sea. Keep pushing through all of your doubts. Keep pushing through your lack of perfection. Push through the cloudy days. Push towards your dream. You’ve got this. I’ve got this. In the words of Jay Malinowski, “We’ve all got to be going somewhere.” So get there, and don’t doubt yourself along the way.
To the authors who inspired me. Thank you. To those of you who have responded to me and aided in my confidence; thank you. To the people who wanted to help, and to those of you who were kind about your criticism; thanks.
I refuse to no longer question artist’s motives for why they want to create things, and I hope that no one questions mine. This has been a difficult road to walk along, but I am going to keep going. Bob Dylan said, “A man is a success if he gets up in the morning, goes to bed at night, and in between does what he wants.” I feel like I am a success, and I don’t mean that in a way of vanity or say it with an ego. I mean it wholeheartedly. Do what you love, and spread kindness like wildfire. We’re all bound for greatness, make sure you seek yours. And make sure you swim. SWIM HARD.