It’s not quite the end of the year, but I had an event in my life a week or so ago, that had me re-evaluating my year a little early. I lost a close friend/neighbor. One moment he was here and in the next – he was gone. Kind of like this year. Am I happy with my year? If I disappeared off planet Earth tomorrow am I happy with what I’ve done with my life?
I’ve certainly stretched myself this year. I chose self-publishing when I finally hit the wall of rejection one too many times. I’m not a masochist but up until self-publishing became a viable option, there were little in the way of choices for writers like me.
But taking this pathway meant I had to open up to my basic fears – of not being good enough, more rejection, outright laughter and horrible reviews – and that’s just for starters. This year has seen more Internet disasters than ever and I was terrified of becoming another one. Then there’s the massive learning curve. Not being flush in pocket, I had to learn to do everything myself.
Not only was the formatting a massive headache but I chose to start with nonfiction. There was nothing easy about charts, bullets, numbered lists, graphics for the basic beginner. What I do have in abundance, are kids. And some are at an age to actually know more than I do – and not just think they do!
With my oldest son’s help, we dove into the formatting nightmare until we had it beat. Then came covers. GULP! I’m artistic and one of my sons is artistic – but that one isn’t computer wise or great on patience. LOL. Photoshop is my program of choice, but the learning curve for that software is sufficient for complete Graphic Designer degrees – and not something I was going to master overnight – or over a half a year. Particularly when I wasn’t doing covers all the time – only when a book was ready to publish.
Then there’s the whole aspect of when is a book ready? I’d always wanted an editor – but there are good editors and not so good editors. Just because I wanted an editor wasn’t going to guarantee me a good one! Without funds to spend, I had to rely on my tried and true writer friends – and found they were not a second best choice at all – I wouldn’t be here without them. I just can’t see the mistakes. I’m a fast writer, but a slow reviser (is that even a word? Lol)
Then another huge stretch was the type of writing/revising I was doing. I published three nonfiction books (and a 4th compilation this year), 2 romantic suspense novels, a 3rd going up in the New Year, two YAs with a 3rdgoing up next week, 2 short stories in anthologies, and one novella – also being released next week. Up until this venture, I’d never written a short story or a novella. They weren’t difficult, but they weren’t comfortable the first time either! Then there’s that whole mess called promo – but I won’t even go there right now. Suffice to say I had a lot of stretching to fit that social networking persona.
As I look back on this year I realize how much I’ve grown as a person, as a writer. I’ve become more sure, more settled, more comfortable in who I am. Should I disappear from planet earth tomorrow, I’d be leaving behind a legacy of published books and a system in place that my kids know to follow to get the other dozen books published and the royalties rolling their way.
I’d be leaving a piece of myself behind in every written word. A piece that after growing to fit my new world – I’m proud of.
If I do disappear tomorrow, I have a few words of advice for you all. If there’s a slice of life that you’d like to try, but it scares you or looks too hard – ahead and reach for it – stretch a little – it’s so worth it!
Where and how this year did you have to stretch?