Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Today is Wednesday, July 29, 2015. By many accounts, it was a normal day. I got up at the same time I do every morning, I had the same breakfast, drank the usual three cups of coffee, watched the same morning program. I dressed in a typical outfit in my office-appropriate clothes rotation. I fed the cat, kissed my husband, and left for work. As I am still a novice writer, I have to maintain a full-time job...the details of which I will keep to myself for the time being.

On Wednesday evenings, I have a standing social commitment with my writing group. As I mentioned in my last post, I met a wonderful group of ladies during NaNoWriMo in 2013. We meet every Wednesday. Sometimes we actually get some writing done. Usually there is a fair amount of conversation before anything productive happens.

This Wednesday evening was a little different. I got home at the usual time. My husband handled dinner  by making meatball sandwiches (thanks, hon!). As I was gathering my laptop, keys, and wallet, there was a knock at the door. A package about the size of a paperback book was handed to me when I opened the door. I ripped it open.

I was holding the first print copy of my first novel...actually the proof copy, which is not the final result. I had self-published it on Amazon more than a week ago and have had a couple glowing reviews and moderate sales. I had a lot of anxiety about the book and what it could mean for my future. I had a lot of self-doubt. That was the extent of my emotional reaction. Because I was in a hurry to get to my writing group on time, I quickly flipped through it. I noted the tiny, tiny print that needed to be changed. I noticed the margins that were way too big. I noted that there was no author bio on the back, and discovered later that I forgot to click a button on the print-on-demand website. I briefly noticed the beautiful cover before I shoved it in my bag and ran out the door.

I spent much of this evening trying to fix my file to fit the page, to fix the margins, to fix the font. I was so focused on fixing what I thought was wrong with it that I missed something huge:

I was holding the first copy of my first book!

That moment came later, after the day had quieted and all my work had been done. I sat at my dining room table and just held my book. I flipped through it again. Sure, it's not perfect. That's why I ordered a proof to begin that I could fix things before it went live on the website for sale. But it is mine. It is the realization of a dream I have had since childhood. I can't remember a time when I wasn't a storyteller.

Instead of focusing on my fear of remaining in literary obscurity, of never selling a single copy, of getting a bad review, of any of the toxic negativity that comes to mind when I am feeling unsure I am going to just sit here and hold my book. I am going to bask in the surreality of the moment. I may not ever win a Pulitzer or end up on the NY Times bestseller list, but I wrote a book. I am a writer whether I ever receive acknowledgement for that or not.

I have the strongest urge to send my 5th grade teacher a copy of my book (if I knew how to contact her I would!). She signed my yearbook by saying "I hope one day to read one of your novels." Well, she ever reads this post, know that I did it.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

I have had a truly great day today.

In November of 2013, I decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo). While I was browsing the forums, I saw that a meet-up of other NaNoer's was planned in the neighborhood in which I live. I responded to the thread and received an invite. Lo and behold, the meet up was actually held in the Penthouse level of my apartment building (two of the other members of the group lived in the building). That evening, I met a truly amazing group of women. They are smart, funny, kind, and passionate about life. I feel blessed to have been welcomed into the fold and I have developed some really strong friendships since that first meeting I joined, when I was the newbie and more anxious than I can say.

Speaking of which...I have never been good around new people. As a child, I was painfully shy. Even the act of looking someone in the eye caused me such anxiety that it bordered on physical pain. Well, as an adult, I can look you in the eye, but I'm still awkward and fidgety. I never know what to say or where to put my hands, so most of the time I just sit there in silence and observe until I feel more comfortable and can contribute meaningfully to the conversation. (Have you ever known someone who gets anxious and just keeps talking beyond the point to where it becomes weird for everyone in the room? Yeah, that's me, and to avoid it, I just don't say anything at all). People watching has given me some great story lines, by the way.

But I digress. Back to my great day...which included going to the National Building Museum in Washington, DC. Sounds lame, right? Well, I'm here to tell you that it wasn't. Because as a major attraction, they have a BALL PIT. Yes, that's correct. I felt like I was a kid at the county fair again (I was so sad when I grew too big to get into the Bounce House at the fair).

I was in this place:

Not with this guy, of course. I don't even know who that is. I just pulled the picture off of the website.

But it was AMAZING. So. Much. Fun.

Then we went out for TexMex and Margaritas. Love my NaNo girls!

I'm a true believer that everyone has an inner child. If we don't let him/her come out and play every now and again, then a temper tantrum will happen and our adult selves will get into a funk. So, I let myself play like a child today and had one of the best days of my adult life (minus the whole meeting the love of my life and getting married thing).

I found myself not obsessing about the novel I just released and needing to finish my current work in progress. All week I have been driving myself bonkers with watching the sales figures on Amazon. I have been torturing myself with trying to figure out the kinks in the follow up novel in the series, which is a little in the weeds, to be honest. I want to start a whole series of new projects, but don't have enough hours in the day to plan and execute them. I'm driving myself into madness. I know, I know...I should just not do that. But, what if I let my vigilance fade and end up failing? That's the inner voice of self-doubt I have fought all week.

Today, that voice was silent. And that makes for a great day.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

So this is my first blog post on my first blog. I will admit that my anxiety has been through the roof this week. For years, I have dreamed of making my way through life as a writer. I can remember as a child, I just kind of walked around in a fantasy world. I have never had a hard time entertaining myself. My imagination just takes off and I'm transported into a new world. I can be anyone! I can do anything and go anywhere. I can have grand adventures, great love affairs, and survive great tribulations.

This is what literature does to me. It transforms me.

I started writing down my stories. I recently completed my first novel, which I started during National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. I fell in love with my characters. I felt their heartaches and celebrated with them in their joy. I wrote something that I am truly proud of. I actually completed it in late 2014. My love for my story kept me from sharing it with anyone else. My inner critic kept screaming "What if they don't like it?!?!" The negative self-talk that I kept having made me feel protective and fearful.

Now don't get me wrong. I know that I have room to grow as a writer. I welcome constructive feedback. However, I have spent too much time reading book reviews to ever think that some reviewers will be kind in their appraisal. But, I realized recently that I will have to take the bad with the good. I have to face my fear if I am ever to live my dream. As much as I dream, I can't fathom never at least giving myself a chance to live the life I imagine.

On Saturday, July 17, 2015, I took the plunge and self-published my story, A Secret and A Kiss, on Amazon. I had sent my manuscript out to a few places and either received a respectful "Your story is great, but it doesn't meet our editorial needs at this time," kind of response...or I was greeted with absolute radio silence. A bit discouraging, to be honest.

I am now lost in the quagmire of figuring out my market strategy. My inner child keeps having a temper tantrum. I'm an artist, not a business-person, for God's sake! Well, I guess that's not true anymore...I have to figure out a way to be both.

I'm hugely excited about taking this next step in my life. I'm trying, rather unsuccessfully at times, to not obsess overly much about every little thing about my writing.

I'm also diligently working on the second installment in the Western Dreams series. This will be Warner's here's hoping that he gets his Happily Ever After.

I'm working on getting mine, as well.