Three weeks ago my body gave me a sharp box on the ears and forced me to simplify my life, dramatically and not very gracefully. I let go of a lot of obligations in my life including directing (which was the hardest to release). Now I am learning to balance those things that are really important to me: teaching, writing, karate and robots.
For quite a while, I’ve been stressing that I’m not doing this writing thing right. I was sucked into the ‘crazy multiple streams of income indie bandwagon’. I understand where the Indie authors that support this concept are coming from, but after the box on the ears, I realized that it was a rat race that was going nowhere with a lot of stress to me and the stress was the last trigger that led to the box on the ears. It isn’t that I don’t appreciate the courses or those contributions of so many of the Independent Authors who give their all in this way but my body was very clear that I can’t handle the endless pull of time away from my imaginary friends.
I want to spend this precious time I have been given writing good stories and letting them into the world to be appreciated by people who like reading them. Realistically, this means I will probably always be a fiction writer with a day job. Not a bad thing since I actually like the day job.
The slap on the side of the head made me realize I must change course. Watching Holly Lisle and reading her challenges has made this very real to me. (If you, dear reader, want to support someone who has taught me a great deal in the last three years, please support the Patreon campaign for Holly Lisle). I need to paddle my canoe out of the raging torrent of ‘do everything now every 30 days a book and a new course and and and …’ into a steady slow deep paddle on the side streams or the calm edge or the river and figure out how to portage around the rapids everyone else is riding. I think with all the change going on in publishing that there has to be something new coming. New is scary for everyone; no one knows the ‘right’ way. Everyone in publishing is panicking and running around the town square yelling at the top of their lungs with ‘this works and this works; no this works; no you should do this!’ but no one really knows what publishing is going to look like in five years. We are making the future right now.
Bottom line: people crave story. It is in our make up to need it, to consume it, to share it, to create it.
I must actively choose to let this writing become a joy to share. Writing is not an obligation or a failure because I did not keep to my self-determined schedule. It isn’t ‘I have to write’. It is ‘I get to spend time with my imaginary friends’. I need to focus on those things that are life-giving to me: personal connections and stories.
They are different things. Supporting one does not automatically lead to supporting both. My personal connections in my writing life, my writing friends online and in real life, are not (for the most part) my readers. They support me, hold me up, give me courage to try, give me feedback and help me improve my craft if only by sitting there while we write together. My stories are themselves-they aren’t me. My stories need the support of readers who love them, readers who find them through ‘also boughts’ on Amazon by other readers who love them. My friends love me but their also boughts might not lead others to my stories.
Of course, if readers are going to find my stories that means I have to let my stories go out into the world. Unless I let them go, they will not get the support they deserve. So back to ‘Publishing while broke’ I go while I carefully pole myself away from the rapids.