Indie Life 02-12-14

It’s time for another edition of Indie Life, hosted by The Indelibles. You can sign up by clicking the graphic!IndieLife7

I’ve spent every day this past week hunched over my laptop, in my pajamas, binging on Now and Laters and trying to get the first draft of my sixth book finished. Not that this scenario is all that much different from what I was doing last week or the week before or for the past six months for that matter but what has changed is my attitude. During the last edition of Indie Life I shared some of my gripes about the price of self-publishing–it’s expensive–but today I want to gripe about something a little more intangible and a little more dangerous. Disappointment.

Yes, I’m still crying over not being able to publish anything new this spring and yes I’ll probably still be crying about it in July. It’s hard changing plans and it’s even harder to let go of this vision I’ve been cultivating for months, waiting for and getting excited about. It’s hard to feel like the universe is against you and like nothing is going your way. And that’s how I’ve felt for the past three months. It’s not an attitude I adopt often, mostly because it’s impossible to be productive, let alone function, when all you can think about is all of the things you’re not doing or all of the things you don’t have. But with all of the financial stress I’ve been under lately I couldn’t help it. Every setback felt like an avalanche and I spent so many nights, staring into the darkness, feeling sick to my stomach, and wondering why I was even bothering.

Yes, me, the girl who can’t live without her dreams was considering giving them up. For like…half a second. It’s not that I would ever or could ever stop writing but I’ve questioned my chosen path more in the past few months than I ever have and every time I fill out another job application or get another email from a company saying they’ve chosen to go with another applicant, I can’t help but wonder if I should be pursuing something more practical. It would kill me to work for Corporate America for the rest of my life, I know this, but you know what else is slowly killing me? Stress.

And I think it’s something not enough indie writers talk about. I know when I first started blogging I had this idea in my head of how I was supposed to write and sound and act to my peers and to readers. I thought that if I drew back the curtain and shared too much information about how poorly my sales were or about how much I was really doubting myself that I would somehow look like an amateur. I thought that in some ways, being honest about the wrong things would hurt me. But what really truly hurts even more than being ridiculed is feeling alone. I don’t know very many other indie authors who are brave enough to share the stripped down, bare naked truth about how stressful self-publishing actually is in the emotional, spiritual, and financial sense but I know there are others out there struggling and doubting themselves and envying their friends who are querying or out on submission. I was drowning in this…panic about the choices I’ve made and I was worried that maybe I’d made the wrong ones.

But then I remembered something. I remembered why I chose to go indie in the first place. Because my vision for my life goes way beyond just writing books. And in order to achieve that vision and make it a reality I need this freedom. The freedom to experiment and more importantly the freedom to fail. I’m growing every day as a writer and I know that not everything I write is going to resonate with everyone. But I will not allow myself to be slave to anyone’s expectations but my own and I will not allow myself to be in a position where my creative “failures” dictate my future. I don’t want to worry about my image or sales. Not now. Not when it feels this good to just sit and write in this magical anticipation of something great, of being discovered and being understood. I have so much freedom right now to tell the stories I want to tell exactly how I think they should be told. So I’m thankful for my temporary obscurity. I’m thankful that I get to live in the anticipation of this dream that might end up being better than the real thing. But most of all I’m thankful that even after months of setbacks and doubts and disappointments, this passion inside me hasn’t waned and I know that it will be there to push me in every dark moment back into the light.

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5 thoughts on “Indie Life 02-12-14

  1. Hannah says:

    Thank so much for sharing this–I haven’t hit the publishing stage yet but I had the chance to talk to a published (but not indie) author yesterday and he talked about how writing can be a very isolating lifestyle. I think it is so helpful to remember that not only do we not have to go it alone, but even successful (“successful” by industry standards; this guy has bestsellers translated into over 30 languages) and published authors go through the same feeling of doubt and isolation. Best wishes for continuing to tell your stories!

    • It is incredibly isolating, especially when you sacrifice your social life to meet deadlines or don’t allow yourself to do anything but write until you’ve reached a certain level of success. I know that I have a tendency to obsess over my goals until I’ve reached them which means entire weeks will pass me by before I suddenly realize that I haven’t left my apartment except to get groceries or the mail. But even beyond that, there’s another type of emotional isolation that happens, which you mentioned, where our dreams become some kind of cross to bare. One we always seem to think we have to bare alone. I know this blog is the only place where I feel comfortable venting any of these feelings because I know the writing community understands them but it’s rare that I reach out to a family member or friend to discuss my writing. Probably because my attitude on the subject is constantly evolving. The ebb and flow of creativity is so mysterious but I’m glad that there are other writers out there who understand all of my doubts and disappointments. Thanks for your comment!!

  2. I understand exactly how you feel Laekan. I was thinking today about a UK author I’m in contact with via blog etc and how prolific she’s been, especially compared with little old me. I was thinking that maybe I should be doing more to promote my work – after all the writer in question has obviously worked very hard to get to where she’s got.

    But then I thought ‘hang on a minute, she’s different from you, she’s had different experiences, you can’t compare yourself like that’. I’ve got an ongoing health condition which means that I can’t take on too much in terms of work due to stress, and I do struggle with stress.

    In an earlier post you mentioned about not comparing yourself as a writer to other writers. And that is so right but so hard to do. I can definitely sympathise with your feelings about where you’re at in your life with your writing. But for me there’s no turning back on this journey. For the most part it’s too much fun to do that. 🙂

    • I think you made such a good point about how hard that other writer has obviously worked to obtain her success. It’s something I feel like we might often choose to ignore when comparing ourselves to other writers. We look at their success and can’t help but think we deserve it too even though we probably have no idea how hard they’ve worked to get where they are. But it does take work to have anything worth having and the good news is that as long as we’re willing to put in that work then there’s absolutely no reason to feel any shame about what we have or don’t have right now. Our time will come as long as we just keep going and like you said, it will be a result of our own unique experiences and in spite of our own unique setbacks.

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