(Image courtesy of The Book Connection)
We’re drawing to a close on the third month of Shield of the Gods being available on bookshelves. After four different cover arts, two titles, two different ePublishers (long story), and several marketing tactics, it seems I have a dud on my hands. It’s the first book I’ve ever had published, the first book I ever wrote, the first thing I ever truly put my heart and soul into, the first step I ever took on my journey as a writer and storyteller. The world thanked me for almost 3,000 free copies, then merely shrugged when I put it up for regular sale at $3.99 apiece. Yeah, I’m crushed. Yeah, I get teary now and then. But do I want a pity party? Hell no. There are lessons I’m learning from this experience.
Lesson One: Expectations
There’s a caveat out there that says expectations only set you up for disappointment, so the accompanying advice says to do something with all your heart, yet without any expectations. I don’t know how to not have expectations when it comes to my writing. Now I’m paying the emotional and psychological price: absolute despair and a sense of worthlessness and failure. Even so, I haven’t given up. I’m still working on my standalone novel, and once that one’s done and on bookshelves, I’ll get to work on another book in a planned trilogy and see what happens with that one as well. Only time and effort will tell. On the upside, my ePublisher still hast lots of ideas and experiments to try on Shield of the Gods. There’s hope for it yet. Exposure via independent publishers is our biggest challenge. 3,000 people on a planet of 7 billion and climbing is a laughably small number to jump-start my writing career. Yeah, I still feel crushed, but this mood too shall pass.
Lesson Two: Fortitude
Failing is a part of succeeding. As far as how much is necessary beforehand can never be measured or gauged. It is simply part of any journey worth the reward. Fortitude is the only thing that’ll get you through the darkest hours. What’s frustrating for me is that every time I think I’ve hit rock bottom, the world laughs and helps me find a new low. I’ve been sinking for a couple of years now while building back up between dips. Every bounce off the new bottom is full of invaluable lessons. I learn more about myself, the world and how it works, what’s important, what I really need to do in order to succeed, etc. All these painful lessons are helping me build a sturdy foundation for my future.
I’m also learning about how the world thinks. Trying to make it as a writer/author requires stepping outside a typical person’s comfort zone, along with breaking away from the conventional approach to finding one’s niche in economic society. It’s not about the slogging through miserable 9-5 jobs while making writing a hobby on the side. It’s about priority and making time for what you really want. There are many sacrifices–unless you’re financially sound already–and so little understanding from people who don’t share a passion for pursuing one’s dream. I, and I bet you, have heard countless people come up with excuse after excuse as to why they have to slog through the same discomfort zone day in and day out. They don’t have the time or money or whatever to pursue what they really wanna do. Even I’m guilty of that.
People keep telling over and over to just go find a job. I tried. I fucking tried. Seven years of college and two degrees in hopes of being a college professor while pursing my writing on the side. How many times was I told about people with a degree on average making more money than people without one? What happens? Budget cuts, budget cuts, budget cuts. LIFO. Poor pay–insulting pay for some of the hardest positions in dire need of filling well. I applied to jobs I qualify well for, applied to jobs I considered a long shot, compiled various résumés to reflect what HR was looking for, honed my cover letter writing skills, sought help from workers that help you with every aspect of job hunting. I even considered going to a career institute in the medical field, but me and needles and vomit, and crazy working hours just don’t mix. I care about people and don’t want anyone to hurt as much as I do from time to time, but medicine just isn’t my field.
Oh, and even if I did go the medical route, I’d have had a lovely time trying to find anyone wanting a recent grad.
So, with all that trying, it’s come down to me being able to freely choose how I spend every day. I’ve chosen writing. Screw you and your starving artist stigma. Screw you and your assumption I’m chasing a pipe dream. I’m trying. I’m giving it my all and trying. I’ll never know if I’ll amount to anything as a writer if I don’t try. This recent realization of failure means I’m getting somewhere. I’m doing things. Go ahead and try to argue against honest effort.
Lesson Three: Perspective
This ties in with fortitude but in the end, fortitude would be one endless struggle without perspective. Instead of banging my head against a wall between bouts of writing, I’m trying to understand why I’m failing, or, more like not failing. True failure is only when you stop trying. Shield of the Gods feels like a failure but it’s really not. I can’t get to where I’m hoping to go without the effort and time invested in it. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t written it. So it’s not making me much money. So what? What does this truly mean? Give up on writing? Hell no. I’m a failure as a writer and author? Balderdash. The book sucks? What a load of tripe (okay, enough with the thesaurus).
What this all means is that life is about the journey, not the destination. I’m slowly embracing this. Fear, hope, and determination often suck me into a whirlwind but I make an effort to ground myself every day and renew faith in myself. If you are a fellow writer in need of a buddy to look to for strength, don’t hesitate to hit me up. Don’t walk this journey alone. Let’s get each other to our destination.