Plan D

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Plan A was to sell millions of books and become rich and famous, which did not happen. Plan B was to sell a moderate but steady amount of books, which would allow me to be a full-time author. This is no longer happening. Plan C was to go back to school, become a teacher, and write on the side until I struck gold and could stash all that cash away for an early retirement. Now, early “retirement” is slowly slipping from my grasp, which brings me to plan D: Enjoy my life while making art I love.

I can’t think about the money anymore. It’s agonizing and exhausting, and in the grand scheme of things, means far less than my health and happiness. Could the money I was making last year aid me in my quest to achieve health and happiness? Sure, but only because it would bring me peace of mind. But there’s something else that has been giving me peace of mind lately, something that just last week was the source of much of my terror–the fact that, once again, I am making art that matters to no one but me.

How do I know this? Well, because we’re almost five months from the pub date of Pen & Xander and this little, invisible, book of my heart has still only sold 27 copies. And that’s okay. It’s okay because I needed to write this book and because I learned so much in the process.

I learned what it is I want to say and how I want to say it. I learned that I have a responsibility to write these kinds of characters, characters I craved as a kid but could never find. I learned that the creative process is its own reward and that just because this book hasn’t found its audience today doesn’t mean that in a year or five or ten it won’t resonate with someone as powerfully as it has with me. I learned that it’s okay to create something no one else cares or even knows about. Nothing is in vain. This book is not a failure and neither am I.

So, what does Plan D really look like? Well, it actually looks a lot like my old life when I was working 60 hours a week and writing every spare second in between. Only this time I’m not breaking myself in the process. I’m writing because I want to, not because I need to generate more income. I still want to make money and be able to write full time someday. But setbacks in my creative life have shown me that I have a lot of other gifts that are worth pouring into. I’m a good teacher. I’m not ready to give that up.

And maybe that’s why Pen & Xander hasn’t been a runaway success. Because, for the time being, I’m supposed to be in the classroom. I’m needed there, which means I’m fulfilling my purpose there. A person can have more than one. Destiny is not a narrow straight but a winding, bumpy trunk that erupts in a dazzling display of branches. Destiny is messy and full of back and forth, push and pull. Tension. Surprise.

I’m not used to allowing myself to feel surprised. Surprises scare me because they are out of my control. But I don’t need to be in control of every little detail. The minutiae may be messy, but if I stand back and examine it in the light, it is still just as beautiful as I’d hoped it would be. Maybe even more so.

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3 thoughts on “Plan D

  1. I just wanted to leave you a bit of encouragement this evening 🙂

    I stumbled across your book, The Girl in Between, last week through a promotion from Book Bub, and because it was free, I figured I’d give it a go. I started it yesterday and finished it about 10 minutes ago. I couldn’t stop. Every moment of quiet at work was filled with me grabbing my kindle to finish. Even if it was just one sentence before work beckoned again.

    It’ been a long time since I’ve read a book this good. Like, probably since I read Eleanor and Park last year, which is saying something because I’ve probably read 50 books between then and now.

    After I finished, I wanted to personally thank you for writing a book that captures so many aspects of a story as far as descriptions and character development go. The Girl in Between is a complex story that could have easily spun out of control in the wrong author’s hand, yet you controlled it so incredibly. I was dumbfounded as I read a few scenes and could see it so clearly, and without a word of confusion.

    Then after reading this post, I sensed a bit of defeat regarding your writing. And when you say “I am making art that matters to no one but me.” Believe me girl. What I just read was art and I appreciated it oh so much. Definitely do what makes you happy, but know that your writing is stunning!

    I’m the founder and leading book reviewer of Literature Approved, a quickly growing book reviewing website with the goal of introducing new authors alongside popular authors, and you can expect a review of The Girl in Between to be featured later this week 🙂 Here’s the link to the Website: http://literatureapproved.com

    Anyways, I just felt like you needed to hear that today 🙂 As a writer myself, I understand how much it hurts for something to not take off as one thought it would, but also how much it means to hear encouragement, even if from a total stranger!

    I pray you have a blessed and wonderful week doing what you love!

    ~Rayleigh

    P.S. I just bought the rest of the series so I’ll probably be sleep deprived for the rest of the week but that’s cool, it’s spring break after all.

    • Rayleigh! I absolutely needed to hear this today. That was so kind of you to take the time to write all of this. I’m trying not to feel defeated and instead focus on all of the amazing things in my life and all of the other gifts I have to give. It helps when readers take the time to share how much they connected with one of my books. It also means the world to me that you’re planning on sharing the book with your blog readers. I can’t thank you enough! I hope you enjoy the rest of the series!

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