When I was in Weight Watchers, I lived by a set of guidelines for survival. People typically don't end up in Weight Watchers unless they're food addicts, and that is definitely the case with me. Yet after years living on the WW program, there are a number of lessons I've learned that I can apply to life in general. One being: if you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got.
Words to live by.
The latter, and the subject of this post, is not a rhymy catchphrase. It's likewise the one most people have the hardest time doing.
People make plans. Sometimes those plans fail. Rather than beat yourself up over what you did in place of what you should've done, the only productive thing to do is accept you failed, buck up, dust yourself off, forgive yourself, and move on.
Last year I set out to complete three manuscripts. That was my resolution. Finish Know Thine Enemy, start and finish Sinfully Scandalous, and complete the work that became Elevated Exposure. I did a good job, and I even tossed in a short story or two for nothing. A Friend In Need was pounded out in less than a month. I had no idea that would happen, even when I decided to do NaNo for the first time. I exceeded my own expectations, and with a heartful of optimism, I took the accomplishments of 2011 and decided to at least match that in 2012.
It's May. Next month will mark the midway point through the year. That's right. 2012 is almost halfway over. And what have I accomplished that I set out to accomplish?
If you answered a big fat load of nothing, congrats, you guessed correctly.
That's not to say I've coasted. Contrary, I've had a very busy spring. I got married two weeks ago (thus my husband-in-name, as he's been for years, became my husband-in-name-AND-on-paper!) and it was a big shebang. Honestly, I should have expected it as my mother's only daughter. I'm not the girliest girl, though, and I guess I thought I could get all my shit done in a timely manner. I thought with editing (and I've taken on several freelance jobs), and writing when I could, I, the great multi-tasker, could just show up to my wedding and see what happened.
Stop laughing. It’s not nice.
Obviously, that didn’t go as planned. But I did get stuff done. A modest amount of work has been completed. I'm about halfway through Sinners and Saints, Book 3, according to my word count estimate. I have plans for the revamp of Possession and all that, and half a dozen other ideas. But I must admit, when it comes down to what I personally love working on, the Sinners and Saints series is hands down the winner. I love the universe, I love the characters, I love the mythology –
I am unabashedly infatuated with my own work, as I think all authors should be. And though modest, the series has gained a handful of fans.
Yet for the first time, I am completely self-aware of myself, the words, and the flow as I write the story. I wrote Sinfully Scandalous on a high mostly, never dreaming it'd actually get published. It was too different, had too many controversial themes, and wouldn't be received well by those who read the first. And yes, I did receive a few quiet comments about the content, but overall, it was received well. But unlike Lost Wages of Sin, I did little to no promotion. I tweeted, posted excerpts, gave away a few copies, and even now I have no idea how well it did, aside from the less-than-encouraging numbers on novelrank.com.
Now, I don't write for money. I write for me. I publish for the cash, sure, but the overall awesome feeling that is having my name on a book that is read and enjoyed by at least more one more person than my best friend and my mother is worth most of the blood, sweat, and tears. Yet with LWoS, something in me changed. I really loved the book, and I loved the thought of starting a series, and I loved the thought of others loving the series. I spared no expense, purchasing bookmarks, paying for multiple print copies, cover art, and so on. I didn't spend a ton, but I don't have tons of expendable income, which made it all the more disheartening when my first check didn't even begin to cover what I'd forked over.
I work a full-time job, a part-time job with editing, and whatever time I have left over is either spent socializing, relaxing, or sleeping. Because as much fun as I find writing, that doesn't take away from the fact that it's work. In some fashion, it's work, and it takes effort. If I spend eight hours a day at work and another three editing, whatever time I have left over is, ideally, spent writing. More realistically, though, I'm cuddled on the sofa with Aaron watching whatever TV show we're catching up on. If I'm in the groove, getting x amount of words committed to paper doesn't take much. If I'm not, I can waste hours trying to force my way inside before giving up and going to bed angry and frustrated with myself.
At the end of the day, though, the thing I enjoy writing the most is a series that I spent more money promoting than I gained in sales. I love writing it, I do, but a writer's head is never quiet. To get into the zone, I have to shut up the crowd of naysayers that takes up the peanut gallery inside my noggin. With Sinfully Scandalous, this took no effort, and I think a part of that was on some level, never expected it to be published.
All this to say, I desperately need to turn this motherfucker around and find the road I was on before I peeled off the exit. I have excuses, and many are legitimate, but what I really need is to quiet the peanut gallery, gather my bearings, and return to basics. Basics might mean writing new stuff for a while – new new stuff. If I’ve learned anything, it is I will come back to those things that are important to me. Know Thine Enemy took almost three years to write, because I wrote the first 15k, hit a wall, and then didn’t come back to finish the rest until I’d pretty much forgotten what I was doing in the first place. I don’t think it’ll take quite that much time to find my way back on track, but until then, I can’t promise to work on Flip Side of Sin. To those who like the series, and chastised me for waiting a year between the first and second book, all I can do is beg your patience and understanding. When I’m not writing, I’m not the best me I can be, and right now I’m not writing. I hate not writing.
It’s time for me to accept I’m likely not going to meet the goal I set out for myself in December 2011, which also means I need to stop beating myself up over what I did in place of what I should've done, accept I’m human, buck up, dust myself off, forgive myself, and move on. Goals, schmoals. This isn’t a race. I’ll get there when I get there.
Until then, I can't push it.