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.