I don’t know about you, but I find posts and articles about the obstacles people face and how they overcame them inspirational. Especially if it’s something I can relate to. Now while this is post has to do with my writing and the direction I’ve decided to take it, this post can be related to any aspect of life.
So let’s begin…
Success means different things to different people. Success may be measured by how well you do in life, in who you marry, in the home you own or the car you drive, in the job you have and the money you make doing it, or in how well you raised your children and their success in life, in sports, in academics, etc.
I believe Joseph Murphy summed it up perfectly when he said:
Success means successful living. When you are peaceful, happy, joyous and doing what you love to do, you are successful.
There may be a Problem, Scotty…
Now other then being video of Scotty on the edge of a cliff, the only reason I posted it is because this is how I felt over the last two year.
Sometime at the beginning of last year, I finally admitted to myself that the problem I was facing in my writing had little to do with my ambitious writing project. That’s not to say that I didn’t run into all sorts of issues with it, like the characters changing their minds on who was supposed to be the Lost Heir, or deciding that they didn’t like being a certain archetype, or that they didn’t want to play a role in the fantasy romance I planned because being part of a multi-book series of romantic fantasy sounded like more fun. My really problem was my writing career.
NOTE: For those who get confused between fantasy romance and romantic fantasy *raises hand*, romantic fantasy is a sub-genre of fantasy with romantic elements in it, while fantasy romance which is romance with fantasy elements. End of lesson.
Now in Changes & my Focus for 2018 I wrote that “I hate my writing career. I hate all the little things I’ve done to gain even a small measure of success. I hate what I’ve had to sacrifice because I thought it would make me successful. I hate that somewhere along the way I’ve lost sight of all my other dreams. I hate that I lost that spark that started me writing in the first place.”
But knowing the problem and doing something about it are two very different things.
Years ago, I read a quote that changed my life but can no longer find. The core of the message was…
If you don’t like something in your life (also friendship, job, relationship, etc.), change it. If you want more out of your life, then make it happen. Stop complaining about what you don’t have or what you would do differently, and do what you can to change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.
-Stephannie paraphrasing a quote
In 2004, I followed that advice and changed a life I wasn’t happy about to follow my heart. Thirteen years later, I am happy that I did. Not only do I have what I believe is the greatest hubby in the world, I also have two beautiful girls and I’m living my dream.
In 2017, when I realized that I hated my dream job, I took that advice again.
Should I Change it, or Should I Quit?
Change might sound like an easy thing to do, but taking a hard look at something that isn’t working in your life isn’t a simple. It takes guts to admit that along the way I took the wrong path, that I made the wrong decision, and that while I learned a lot, there are choices that I regret. It takes time to see the core of the problem that is most often hiding beneath something else. Like my problems with my writing were merely a cover for my dislike of my writing career.
While building my career as a writer, it was hard to judge if I’ve given something enough of a chance to see if it’s right for me or if I’ve allowed a less than ideal situation to drag on too long. Today, I can say that I let everything wrong with my writing drag on too long, and the result was I started to HATE writing. That was the sign thrown into my path that I couldn’t ignore. I knew it was time to figure out why I was feeling stuck and unhappy in my dream job.
NOTE: This is the point where my psychology class, writing courses, and the numerous books I’ve read about psychology and the business of writing came in handy. 😀
Last year, I took a giant step back from my writing career, I gave myself breathing room for a few weeks, and then I took a long look at the situation, my feelings toward my writing, and dissected my career to the bare bones. It didn’t take me long to realize that my current writing project–which was a departure from my romance writing brand, that was going to place under a pen name, and which I feared was going to flop like the last two books–wasn’t the reason I was stuck and unhappy, it was only a symptom of a larger problem.
Four months after walking away from my writing, I knew that quitting wasn’t my answer. And it’s not because of because of all those quotes that talk about how we shouldn’t quit. If something isn’t right for you, you shouldn’t keep doing it, no matter what other people think. If you aren’t happy doing something, then quit doing it. Life is far too short to keep doing something that makes you miserable. And while writing to make a full-time living was making me miserable, writing is something I love.
If you can quit, then quit. If you can’t quit,
If you can’t, you are a writer.
So I made some changes…
Okay, so that is a very simplistic statement for something that took a lot of time and effort, because if you don’t dig down deep and find the core problem and then take the time to change your thinking about it, it will continue to raise its ugly head and bite you in the ass. In other words, you will continue to fail again and again until you fix what’s broke.
Now don’t get me wrong and think that I returned six months later and everything is fixed. It’s not all better, but it is getting there. And that has to do with my looking at my core problems and deciding how I can best overcome those obstacles for success.
Obstacle #6: Being too much of a perfectionist.
I wanted to do everything right the first time. If it’s not right, then I don’t want to let it go into the world to be criticized. To build a writing career, I’ve had to suppress the perfectionist who wants everything just right and move on to the next project, otherwise I would spend decades writing one book.
The flip side to this, is sometimes I get into too much of a hurry and let go prematurely. Loving the Goddess of Love was a perfect example of this. There is so much I should have done with that book to make it better, but I was anxious to move on.
I’m fixing this by reminding myself that making mistakes and taking risks are full of opportunities to learn, to move forward, to start over, and to make changes.
Not only do I need to learn to let go and move on to the next project, even if it’s hard, I need to accept that doing everything right the first time around isn’t possible. I also need to accept that it’s not perfectionism keeping me back, but doubts and fears. And I learned a long time ago, fear is the soul killer (How many recognize that phrase?). I need to face my fears and not let them control what I do.
Obstacle #5: Letting the advice and opinions of others dictate my plans.
And I don’t mean in a good way, like a reader asking if I could write Aphrodite or Thanatos’ stories, or tell the story of Hades and Persephone’s child, which is an awesome idea that I’m still trying to figure out.
I’m talking about influential people who parade their advice around as if it is “the only way” to be successful and then become insulting when someone doesn’t take their advice because it doesn’t fit their platform or their life. I’m talking about those asshole haters and naysayers that have nothing better to do then to put others down to make themselves feel better and more important. And I’m talking about those horrid people who act like they are only stating an opinion but seem to take some sadistic pleasure in trashing the hard work of others in an insulting and rude manner.
So how am I fixing this, by reminding myself that I can’t control the negative behavior of others, but I sure as Hell can control how long I participate in it.
And I’ve decided not to participate in it. I would rather lift someone up and help someone out, then argue with someone about my life, my choices, my lessons, or my mistakes. All that is my business, and if someone doesn’t like it, that is their problem, not mine. I have better things to do, places to be, and more important people to talk to.
Obstacle #4: Marketing when I hate marketing.
I know that it is the lifeblood of a business, but the idea of marketing my books makes me physically ill. I avoid it like I would a plague carrier. I despise all the marketing gurus who tell me that I have to do this, and that, and this and that if I want to sell a book. I would rather spork out my eyeballs and have a root canal done on all my teeth then ask anyone to buy my book.
My solution to this obstacle is to find a passive ways to market my books. I know that they are out there.
Obstacle #3: Arguing with assholes who believe I am on the wrong path.
Like that person who knows absolutely shit about the writing industry, but thinks that they do so they try to convince me that I should traditional publish because that is “the only true publishing path” and they know what is best for me. Or the person who loves my writing style but hates the story I wrote and thinks I should be writing a different type of story. And by the way, they have the perfect story for me to write. By the end of the conversation, I’m second guessing everything about my writing path and pissed off to boot.
And for those who aren’t writers, this is that person who thinks they know what is best for you or your life, and try to push you into doing things you don’t want to do because they “know best”. And if you don’t do what they so forcefully “suggested”, they’re pissed off at you and their not afraid to tell you about it. According to them, you might have even ruined their life because you made the best choice for you.
There’s an easy solution for this, realize that you are the only one who knows what is best for you, your business, your life, and your family. Everyone else can go piss up a tree.
I know that sounds harsh, especially when someone you respect gives you advice, but sometimes people give you advice that benefits them more than you. I’m really directing the above statement toward those who become angry when you don’t follow their counsel. You need to remember that you all have all the facts and you are the best judge of what is right for you.
For the record, at one time I might have wanted to be traditional published, but then I did my research and decided that Indie Publishing was a better fit for me and I haven’t regretted that choice in 10 years because: 1) I don’t want to be a traditional published author; 2) I don’t want to sell hundreds of thousands of books; 3) I don’t care to be on the New York Times Bestsellers or the USA Today Bestsellers lists; and 4) I don’t want the added stress. Thank you very much, but no Thank You!
Obstacle #2: Not being true to myself.
There are two parts to not being true to myself. In the past, I’ve admitted that I’m more reserved on my blog, which makes me less personable or real, but I’ve also been more reserved in my book writing. I did this because I didn’t want to create conflict or be criticized for what I say by family. It’s a natural state for me to do my best to keep the peace, even if that means listening to the verbal abuse of bullies without fighting back. This isn’t health and it’s something that needed to change.
I started doing this by reminding myself that I can’t please everyone and to try means being unhappy.
At first I thought the solution was a pen name, because then I wouldn’t feel like I had to edit what I wrote because of family who didn’t like it and it would make it easier to cut some people out of my life. However, it didn’t take me long to realize that a pen name wouldn’t make me happy for three reasons:
- I’m proud of what I write.
- I’ve worked hard to write those books.
- I want my name on the books I publish not another’s.
Once I realized the pen name was out of the picture, I started to think about what would make me happy. As writing is my dream job, something I’ve been wanting to do it since the second grade, it is important for me to create boundaries to protect that happiness. But I took it a few steps further.
In order to be true to myself, it’s time for me to stop hiding and be who I am. That doesn’t make me mean, selfish, or uncaring because I don’t do things the way others think I should. It means that I care about me too. Sadly, if I have to lose people to be myself, then that is what I will do.
And Obstacle #1: Not facing the truth sooner.
No matter how hard I tried to fit that round peg in the star hole, it’s taken me seven years to realize that I’m not a romance writer. Let me say that again, I’m not a romance writer.
Being unable to fit my books into a genre should have been my first clue that I was doing it wrong. My book sales should have been my second clue that I was never cut out to be a romance writer. But I think the cherry on top was when a writer friend of mine kept pointing out that I might not be a romance writer.
This was an easy fix and came down to do what I love & love what I do.
I don’t know about you, but yes, my mind just went there. Maybe I should be looking into writing Erotica. *snort* Nah, I’d be no better at that then I am at romance.
At heart, I’m a storyteller who has chosen to use writing as my medium. I never fell out of love with writing and sharing stories. Which means I needed to find out what I was passionate about writing. Looking back through my earlier stories before I made romance writing my focus, I came to realize that most of my stories were in the in the urban fantasy, science fiction, and fantasy genre with elements of romance in them.
It made returning to my writing roots, magical worlds with a twist, that much easier.
“Success is stumbling from failure to failure
with no loss of enthusiasm.”
Success or Failure?
Like I said above, success means different things to different people. And sometimes we lose sight of what success means to us in the chaos of what others see as successful.
I know that some would see my writing career as a failure, but I don’t choose to see it that way. Because I took a big risk for me. I wanted something badly enough that I walked out of my comfort zone to pursue my dreams. I accomplished everything I set out to do when I published my stories. I just got a little sidetracked by the crowd who kept telling me what I should want as a writer that I forgot to stop and ask myself if it was something I actually wanted.
Looking back, I’m glad for everything I learned. Some of those lessons were hard for me to face, but I know the growth I’ve gained will help me be a better person, and while I just wish I could have seen the problems sooner and saved myself the headache of trying to figure them out, I’m glad for the experience that will help me do better this next time around.
What obstacles have you had to overcome to succeed in your life or business?