I acquired the title “Indie Author” the day I hit “publish” and a few hours later my first book went live on Amazon. Before that day I was just a “housewife” who liked to write. Sharing my first book with the world was a life altering event. My emotions hopped on a roller coaster and went for one hell of a ride. A good review left me giddy and bouncing around the house and a bad review had me pouting and questioning if I should have even put my work out there.
The day I officially decided to publish Freeing Asia I remember sitting in my bedroom with my husband and telling him that if I did it I would be doing it for me. This was going to be about my love for writing and nothing else. Not money, not popularity, not pleasing the world…
I never took into account that, because I’m an indie author, I’d be thrown into a whole new world completely separate from my love of writing. Now don’t get me wrong, I love interacting with my readers, other authors and bloggers. This community is full of wonderful people. I’ve made great friends who have supported me and my books and have a special place in my heart… but I wasn’t writing. I wasn’t reading either. I was creating teasers and hosting giveaways.
When I finally decided to focus on my next book I had a whole new set of obstacles that I never had with my debut novel. All of a sudden I had a deadline, I had a group of people who had read my book and said things like, “Oh my god! I cannot WAIT for Shaun’s book! Hurry up and write it!”. I absolutely LOVE that my readers are anxious to read more. That means I did something right. It showed me that choosing to publish my work wasn’t a total mistake because I was able to reach people with my writing and, even for just a moment, I made them happy. Which, by the way, is the most AWESOME feeling EVER!
But… I sat down to write and nothing came. Then a few days later, a little came and I felt relieved that my first book wasn’t just a fluke and I still had more stories in me to share. Then… nothing again. I found myself staring at my calendar counting the weeks I had before I had to send my manuscript to my editor. I would sit at my desk in the middle of the night and instead of writing, I’d be on Facebook reading statuses from other authors about how they just typed “The End” on their third book and how happy they were. Meanwhile, the days on my calendar are being ticked off as the pages of my second book are stagnant, collecting virtual dust and my confidence was sinking.
My husband had been deployed through most of this and he’s my rock. He’s the voice of reason when I’m having a mental freak out and he was gone. Luckily, he came home a month ago but that also meant I wasn’t thinking about writing… I was thinking about…other things. Then Thanksgiving came and went… eating, family and again, no writing.
About a week ago my husband came home from work to find me sitting at my desk with my hands gripping my hair at the roots, my eyes on my computer screen and that calendar hanging by my head, mocking me.
“I’m stressing, babe. Time is running out and I can’t seem to write. I have all these ideas and I really want to write this book but I just can’t seem to get anything out.” I tell him as I move to the kitchen table to make sure my kids are eating their lunch.
He follows me into the kitchen and leans against the sink.
“So don’t write. Take a break.”
I scoff at him. Is this dude serious?
“I have a deadline! I can’t just not write!”
He clearly has no idea what I’m going through or he wouldn’t say that.
“Fuck your deadline. Don’t think about the deadline. If you can’t write, don’t. Read a book, relax.”
“Babe, I have people waiting for this book. I have an editor who expects my manuscript on a certain date. I can’t just say ‘fuck it’ and not write.” I tell him as I feel tears pricking the back of my eyes. (It must be my hormones… it’s my time of the month.)
It’s clear my husband doesn’t understand.
“What did you tell me when you started this? Didn’t you tell me ‘I’m doing this for me.’, babe? It doesn’t sound like you’re doing this for you anymore. This wasn’t supposed to stress you out. This wasn’t supposed to be a job, remember?” he asks, as he studies my face.
He’s right. Dammit.
“I just don’t want to let anyone down.” I mutter as I turn to look out of our kitchen window and into our backyard.
I’m pretending to look around when I’m really trying to avoid him seeing my tears.
And there it is… the real truth… the root of it all. I want to please my readers, I want to meet expectations and I’ve completely forgotten who I’m doing this for… me. That’s when the realization hits me like a ton of bricks. If I’m not enjoying the process, if I’m not writing because I HAVE to, because I WANT to, then what the fuck is the point? My options are to stress out, force myself to write something just so I can publish it and turn my love for writing into a chore, a job OR I can go back to where I started. When I wrote because there was a story in me that I had to get out.
So this is where I am now:
~Deadlines have been forgotten. If I meet them, I meet them. If I don’t, I don’t.
*I contacted my editor to tell her what was going on and cringed when I hit “send” because I was worried what this might do to her crazy schedule. You know what her response was?
“No problem at all! I completely understand that writing cannot be held to a strict schedule. Please take your time and don’t stress about this schedule.”
GOD, I LOVE HER!!
~If I want to make my readers happy I’ll give them a story I LOVE and feel not something I think they want and they’ll love me more for it. (I hope.)
~No more comparing. Every author has their own methods, their own style and their own timelines.
And the best thing…
~I’m feeling more excited for Breaking Shaun now than I’ve ever have!