Writing is work. It’s work I’ve happened to greatly enjoy over the past 3 1/2 years, but it’s still work. If writing is work, publishing a book is hard work. Since January, I’ve come to know how much time, energy, blood, sweat, tears, attention, heart, and soul goes into publishing a book. I’ve had my own limits tested with the publishing of 18 Things, my debut novel.
Since my release, it feels like 90% of my writing career is researching, marketing, promoting, socializing, facebooking, blogging, tweeting, speaking, drinking coffee, ect . . . and about 10% actually writing. So when I got my royalty statement at the beginning of May that stated I’d only sold 16 copies in April, and I actually owed my publisher money (AFTER all that work?!), I’ll admit I felt like throwing in the towel.
So I took a break. You might’ve noticed I haven’t blogged since the last IWSG (or maybe you didn’t, since it seems like I only have like 5 fans, lol). But I didn’t just take a huge break from social media, I took a step away from the shiny object, A.K.A. 18 Truths, my WIP, and debated if I should even finish the trilogy.
I broke the cardinal rule: Write every day. When you’re passionate about writing, following that rule isn’t really an issue. But life can place a lot of demands on us for our time and attention . . . with the end of another school year coming to a close (I’m a teacher by day) and all the culminating activities for my two kids, I’d just lost that loving feeling for all things related to writing this past month.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I didn’t become a writer to make tons of money, just like I didn’t go into teaching with that in mind. I wasn’t wearing any rose-colored lenses, expecting my debut novel to land on the New York Times Best Sellers List. But I did expect to get paid something.
So why even continue doing this? If it’s money I want, I can easily get a part-time job this summer waiting tables and probably make more money in a week than I have in my last four months as a published author (just FYI, the reason I owe my publisher money is because I bought 4 boxes of books from them). While I pondered this choice, I joined a book club with some of my fellow teachers and we choose to read The Power of a Positive Mom. It’s funny how God knows just what we need. Not surprisingly, my last three chapters have been about the power of a positive attitude. Chapter 9: The Ladies’ Pity Party (Don’t Accept the Invitation). Chapter 10: Attitude of Gratitude (Creating a Thankful Environment). Chapter 11: The Challenges of Life (Learning to Grow through Difficult Circumstances).
After my attitude adjustment, I’ve started writing again. I’ve had to take the profit motive off the table to get myself back in the saddle. Because of the talents God has given me, I’m looking at my book as a gift to the world to empower people and see where God leads me. And it’s the belief I had all along . . . I just forgot about it for a little while.
It’s been 12 days since school ended, and every morning I wake up, brew my coffee, head to my writer’s table, and kneel in prayer to ask for God’s guidance. 90/10 still seems like a relative percentage, because I’m convinced that life is ten percent what happens to me and ninety percent how I react to it. Author and teacher Chuck Swindoll said that, and I wholeheartedly agree with him!
Another lesson I’ve come away with from all this? Write what’s in your heart. I know you’ve all heard, “The story of your heart won’t be published. It’s only for you.” I disagree. I think things get put on our hearts for a reason, and we should listen to those promptings from the universe. With 18 Things there were times I didn’t listen to my heart, and I regret it now. I won’t make that same mistake twice. And I guess that’s the silver lining of not being a bestseller yet (notice I said yet, I’m still holding onto hope!). I don’t have anyone beating me over the head demanding that I write a certain thing or in a certain way.
So what about you? Throw yourself any pity parties lately? Join Alex Cavanaugh and his ninja army once a month for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group . . . maybe we can help turn things around into a positive party 🙂
Oh, and if you are one of my five fans out there, maybe you’d be interested in this video I posted in response to Kimberly Gabriel’s middle schoolers asking me some questions about my book!