Mental Reboot

Beware the angst kittens! (via Wikimedia Commons by Luis Miguel Bugallo Sanchez)

I’ve done a lot of freaking out this year (and last year, and probably other times before that).  It’s kind of a natural end result of being a Type A workaholic who constantly runs at the edge of Maxed Out.  Anything that implies more work or that things won’t pay off or work out as planned or as fast as intended tends to just flip that switch.  And then something or someone (:cough: Susan :cough:) resets me.

When I got into self publishing, I expected that I was on a five year plan until I could quit my job.  When I got picked up by my agent, the Magnificent Laurie McLean, I dared to think that might happen even faster.  Not the smartest assumption I’ve ever made.

I’m nearing the end of Year 2.  I haven’t put out as many titles as I expected for various reasons that don’t bear going into.  I’ve done quite well with what I have put out, but last year’s stuff has absolutely peaked and is slowing down.  This is the natural progression of things and why we keep putting out new things, keep working on attracting new readers who will go out and check out all our other work.  That’s the whole point of marketing.  Which has never been easy and has gotten harder.  The market is flooding and will only get worse as more and more people flock to self publishing for assorted reasons.  The economy has totally tanked, so everybody’s sales across the board have slowed.  And there are no signs that’s going to change much anytime soon.

So many of the success stories and gurus that people follow–well, frankly it makes no sense for us to listen to them.  Because they’re all outliers.  They were traditional authors capitalizing on years of reverted rights to backlists and the reputation already built among fans for solid work.  Or they produced at the speed of light.  Not a one of the paragons held up for us to emulate actually make any SENSE for a true, entirely indie author to try to duplicate.  There are plenty of people out there who purport to have all the answers.  But the market is changing so fast that the truth is that NOBODY has the answer, nobody knows how things will shake out.

The one thing I feel confident in saying is that my five year plan is probably crap.  Building a career as a professional writer, whether indie or traditional, takes time.  I’m 31.  We’ll be starting a family in a couple of years probably.  There is no way on God’s green earth that I’m going to manage to quit my job before then.

SO…

Instead of freaking the hell out about it, which I have devoted a great deal of wasted energy to over the last year, I’m changing my outlook.  Creating my career is going to take however long it takes.  Worrying about wasted time from the past is useless.  I can’t change it.  All I can do is keep writing the best books I know how and moving forward.

But by God, I’m gonna pull it off before I turn 40.

10 thoughts on “Mental Reboot

  1. I’m older than you, Kait. I won’t even say by how much. Yep. Flooded market, etc. I don’t think I’ll ever see the day when I make a living at writing fiction, no matter how I try or how much I love the craft or wish my dream would come true.

    All we can do is keep at it. I also hope I’m wrong.

  2. Excellent blog post, Kait. I teach writing, and lately the topic of self-publishing comes up frequently, I’m going to bookmark this post and incorporate it into those discussions. Good luck with plan B!

  3. There’s always a Plan B. Go for it!

  4. I feel so much like this lately. Thanks for echoing my own thoughts. For me, it’s not starting a family, but raising the one I have now that the kids are getting to that “can we have a ride to Boy Scouts/the mall/band practice/friend’s house/etc.” stage. They really actually NEED me again, but in a totally different way than when they just needed a diaper changed or a little snuggle. I have to be here–like, REALLY be here. It’s a tough thing to balance with writing, even when I don’t have an evil day job aside from “mom.”

    You’ll get there, I’m sure. You’re a good writer, and eventually, it’ll all click into place and start to ramp up for you. I have no doubt. 🙂

  5. You are right. We should just push forward, no matter how long it takes. Eventually, we’ll certainly get there if we don’t give up!

  6. I relate to what Amy said. I feel like I’ve put a lot of my energy into trying to start a writing career–which is more like trying to build a fiction manufacturing and sales business–in the last year and a half. It causes me a lot of stress and I think quality of family life and parenting has suffered. My daughter needs a mom now, not 5 books from now when (IF) I get established.

    Last year I had trouble getting into book 2 because I was spending so much time out (online) mingling in order to get my name out and sell books that I didn’t have any mental peace left to listen to the characters. I’m in the same place now trying to get into book 3. And it’s that plus my head is always in the computer somewhere, whether it’s on whatever’s happening on whatever social media outlet I was just engaged with or on in Word on my WIP (not as frequent). I’m not present with my family and that’s not good.

    I’ve been trying to find the balance, but I’ve been looking for that balance in a way to do everything at once. Which a) isn’t my personality style, and b) doesn’t seem to be the answer. I’ve been feeling like I don’t see the return in a lot of things I’ve been spending time on, but “everyone” keeps saying you have to do this and you have to do that. It’s like I’ve wanted permission to give those things up.

    I’d love to be able to succeed at the writing thing and send my daughter to college. But I’d hate to have her get there, sit around in the dorm and describe her childhood as one with a mentally-absent mom who always had more time for strangers on Twitter than for her.

    I think I want to bring my focus back more to the writing to the writing of books than the selling of them. I want to believe that if they’re good enough, the work will sell itself, that the fans will help me. I just don’t know if that’s true.

    • All very valid points. Family is important. I think my issue is that I have concern that I already have to spend enormous chunks of my day doing things for other people–boss, husband, my mother, friends, etc., that once I add kids to the mix, I’m going to be in a permanent state of resentment because nobody can take care of their own crap and expects me to do it for them, leaving no time left for me. I already spend a lot of time there mentally and it’s pretty toxic.

      • So something has to go. When it was time for me to become a mother, we dropped some standard of living to free up the time. Now I’m trying to build it back and build something for myself at the same time. And now part of that has to go because it’s just too much. So I’m looking at dropping some of the “marketing,” which I put in quotes because I’m not at all sure that it markets anything.

  7. Honestly, I started my family eleven years ago. I had a few novels under my belt at the time, and I loved writing, and I loved painting. I still have not picked up a paintbrish since my first son was born. Now that my third son is five, I’ve tried to get my identity back by writing again… after not writing for ten years.

    Its tough, and there is very little time in my life, but I’ve dound it fulfilling. Doing marketing now, has been killing me and eating up the rare time I have to write. Juggling family, home, writing, and marketing is very hard. We can all only hope for that one lucky moment. Best of luck to you.

  8. Sorry I’m late commenting, but…Apple Festival…no internet last night…..

    Anyway, I think everyone has a different idea about how this author thing is going to work. My plan has never really been to quit my full time job, even though I would LIKE to just write for a living. I really like my job. The writing is actually paying me as much as a part time job probably would. So I’ve been able to buy some things that I never could in the past. When I retire, I can write full time if I want. But I’m about twenty years older than you. LOL

    I still think you’re going to get there. The key is definitely to keep publishing more books so that when an older one has almost exhausted it’s sales, there will be a new one to take its place. You’ve got many years ahead of you, so you’ve got time. I wish the indie opportunities we have now had existed when I was your age. Just take a deep breath and enjoy the writing instead of worrying about it so much. Good things are going to come.

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