Birthing a book isn’t easy.
Like human conception, it has its moments of pleasure. But then the work and the worry arrive.
“Award-winning author and good friend Susan May Warren motivated me first through shock therapy. She perused my literary firstborn’s opening chapter, marked it up in red, and sent it back to me with a lot of words of which I remember only one—‘potential.’ Loosely translated, she said, ‘Maybe your baby won’t be so ugly when she grows up.’”
That line can be found in the acknowledgements at the back of my recently released novel, Dark Eyes, Deep Eyes. And it summarizes the angst I’ve gone through.
Such a clod.
Last week, on the same day, I got bad news followed by good (I suppose that’s the order I’d prefer but the bad news still discouraged me).
Let me start with the good. Critique partner, friend, and fellow author Linda Rondeau posted an excellent review of my novel on Amazon. Ellen saw it in the evening and read it to me. Linda’s words re-inflated my deflated soul.
Because of the earlier bad news (only because I’d had high I’ve-won-the-lottery expectations). I’d received my book sales report for the first quarter and discovered that initial royalty check will have to wait a little longer to be mailed. My portion from the book’s sales hadn’t met the minimum requirement (my lovely and practical wife said, “They just don’t cut checks that small”—sigh!).
I don’t write this so ya’ll can feel sorry for me (or even to promote a huge run on sales—although, if you want to … ). Here’s the takeaway from one night’s mixed message of I’m great … no I suck …
Crisis and bad news tend to sharpen focus.
First of all, I got the solid dose of reality every person gets slapped with from time to time. Sometimes that slap comes from a conversation with a doctor. Sometimes it comes from filling out tax forms. Sometimes it comes in a heated argument with a friend. For me, it came through a sales report.
Second, I weighed my options, which were pretty simple—quit or stick with it. Choosing to continue when you’re doing well is easy. When you cruise through your life, you don’t ponder deeper questions.
Crisis has a tendency to dump you then direct you.
What do I mean by dump then direct? Simply this. Picture your life loaded in a wheelbarrow, then the wheelbarrow tips over. What happens? Your life gets dumped. When we get bad news, what happens emotionally? We get down in the dumps (I know, I know, oh, so cliché).
Crisis then moves us into decision-making mode. We have new decisions to make—get up or stay down; i.e. quit or stick with it—the choices to which give direction to our lives.
I can no longer take writing a novel and making loads of money for granted. I have to make some choices, the first being will I continue to write.
In a recent post I read, the author (and I wish I could remember who wrote this to give the person his or her due) shared two things a person needs for success—passion and practice. Bad news often raises questions related to passion.
Do I love to write?
Would I do it for free?
What if the whole world ignores what I do, would I still write?
Am I writing for the money, the affirmation, or because I have a passion for it?
To be honest, I know I need encouragement. We all do. To never have any response to my writing, well … I’d be disheartened (yeah, like bury-me-in-the-ground-already disheartened).
On the other hand, thanks to this crisis, I know the answer to the first question. Yes, I love to write. I also know, for me, the order of importance of the last question. First is passion then affirmation then money. The latter isn’t the reason I write. It just opens up future opportunities—ones, like that first royalty check, I’ll just have to wait on.
So, after a startling dose of reality, I’m back at what I love to do. Writing!
I’m curious. What has made you recheck your priorities in recent days?
You can find my novel, Dark Eyes, Deep Eyes, at:
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