I #Failed | Good – Now Go Fail Again – A #Writer’s Tale

Yeah so…I think I’m ready

Ready for what you may ask if you care…

Ready to get back down to the business of writing something worthy of your read.

Something worthy of myself and my abilities. You see, as a writer…especially a writer with a day job, family, other obligations etc. etc. and a husband who likes to talk…A LOT, (yeah I know what you’re thinking, most women would be ecstatic) I get distracted beyond measure.

To be honest…no, to be truthful, I’ve allowed myself to become distracted…repeatedly for over two years. I craved it. I went on a quest for distraction.

I’ve sworn to myself almost daily that I would write. I do in fact write quite a bit for my day job in sales and marketing but that’s content and copywriting. It’s creative in a different way. Yes, I’m telling stories about a product or products to sell them but I’ve neglected the most important product I have…myself.

For three years, I was immersed in writing books, editing books, choosing covers, designing covers, publishing and marketing my books. Once I went independent there was no going back…or so I thought. Today, I realized I’ve failed myself. I’ve failed my readers. Looking back, my doubts that I’d ever succeed as a writer crept slowly in like the sunset and it stayed dark. Not North pole dark or Alaska or something where you know in a month or two the sun will rise again. I’m talking eternal night.

If you read anything on my blog, especially this week, you’ll see I went on an adventure. A real life adventure and was out there in the real world doing real world stuff with real people. What I’ve discovered is I have been in a terrible rut and although I enjoyed my adventure tremendously for the most part, I was terribly uncomfortable in my own skin. I felt restrained, stressed and even weary at times because I created this monster. The monster being me. The monster who has so much crammed into her brain all the time now with no outlet that I find it nearly impossible to relate to anyone outside of my closest circle. I can’t even open up my feelings anymore unless I’m about to explode. I feel backed into a corner and yet I crave the corner and press further and further into it until that’s all there is.

It all started when I finished my last book. It was collaboration that was beyond wonderful yet beyond excruciatingly painful at the same time. The whole process of rewriting a book in my own voice caused changes in my creativity that I could not have foreseen for it was immediately after the book was closed on that endeavor that I became stagnant. This was worse than writer’s block, this was flat lining.

I couldn’t see it. I couldn’t feel it anymore. My insatiable hunger to pour out my very heart and soul into words became a tangible need to avoid it at all costs. I tried…I really tried. I’d sit for hours in front of a blank screen. One of my dearest writer friends / a real friend, encouraged me and did her level best to lift me up and turn the lights back on in my brain but all I could do was write a few chapters, tear them apart, write them again and them slam my laptop closed.

It hurt. I cried. I ate…way too much. I felt alone and lost and worst of all, a complete and utter failure.

Seven books. I wrote and published seven books in the span of three years. Obviously I had stories to tell. They have pretty great reviews and some have won awards so I must have been doing something right. I spent more money than I made, on marketing, and even gave away thousands of kindle copies just to get my name out there. I’m no different than any other independent author in that respect and I know that. I’m just an example of that quote, “The moment you’re ready to quit is usually the moment right before the miracle happens…don’t give up.”

After three years of nonstop writing and publishing…no miracle. I let go.

I felt like no matter what I did, I was never going to reach the level of success I wanted. Not fame or fortune, although money wouldn’t hurt but I wanted that best seller status. I wanted to see my books out there…everywhere…

That’s where I fucked up.

Then this quote hit me hard…

But first, I had to admit to myself that I didn’t quit…

I GAVE UP.

I started because of the voice in my head that evolved into a story about a little boy with special gifts who kept nagging me to tell his tale.

I started because for 48 years of my life, or at least as far back as I could recall, I always wanted to be a writer. I knew there were stories I needed to tell. I knew I could make it happen and all I had to do was sit down and write.

Of course there was a whole lot more to it than that but I didn’t know and I didn’t care and I knew failure at that time wasn’t an option. All I could think about from the time I woke up in the morning until the time I went to bed at night was writing. I chomped at the bit all day until I could get on this old keyboard and tell you all about my imaginary friends. I was excited and alive inside…

Alive inside.

Alive on the page.

Alive in my heart and in my mind and filled with dreams and goals and stories.

Somehow they all became clouded and the voices stopped. There was no cataclysmic event. There was no physical or emotional turmoil. There were changes of course in the real world but nothing outside myself caused this. This was an internal failure. A break down of the spirit and joy writing had given me because it became so much about business and promotion and selling and numbers and fear and doubt…and failure.

Well, today, I started hearing the voices again. I started feeling deep inside a spark of desire and hunger.

I started shaking off the pressure of finishing both my book series’ and perhaps finishing one of the other novels I was writing that are stand alone’s and pitching them to agents. I got ideas for a few other books as well and hurriedly jotted them down, as we do so I didn’t lose them.

Failure is a fact of life.

We go where we have to go, inside of ourselves and sometimes, a fishing trip or just shutting out the noise of day to day life can open a window in your mind and allow you to see yourself even in the dark.

I withdrew not only from the world but from myself because I was disappointed in my failure to achieve the goals I thought I wanted. Now I see what I wanted wasn’t the truth of it. I had to fail. I had to go through this darkness to understand I had lost that part of myself in the process that gave me the gift and the desire to write in the first place.

Did I say I’ve read A Song of Ice and Fire THREE times in the past year? Yes, all of the books in the series. I’m obsessed with George R.R. Martin’s writing and even listen to the audiobooks on my commute. I’ve been studying that master for a year. Inside and out I’ve studied him and I still don’t know half of his genius but nothing will stop me from trying to achieve it. So at least the last year hasn’t been a total literary loss. I’ve been studying and absorbing the craft as much as I can.

Now, I need to go forward.

This will be a process. This will be a rebirth of sorts for me but I’m no longer in the dark. The sky is lighter and the sun is just below the horizon.

Fuck money. Fuck best seller status. Fuck all of it. I just need to write and write often and well.

If the miracle happens so be it.

The real miracle is just knowing I have an outlet for this ballooning information and imagination inside of me that has reached critical mass. Inspiration is everywhere now. Pictures. Sounds. Music. Nature. Sleep. It’s everywhere.

I’ll not force it ever again. I won’t guilt or pressure myself to write. That’s a poison I won’t swallow. There is something that keeps playing in my mind now though. It’s a quote from the Game of Thrones television show. It’s an exchange between two of my favorite characters: Jon Snow and Ser Davos Seaworth.

 

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#Writers and/or #Authors, Is There Anything You Won’t Write About?

tied-hands

Recently this issue reared it’s ugly head. I say ugly head because I believe sometimes we need to get dirty in order to tell a story with as much truth as it deserves. Just to clarify, it wasn’t me who was concerned but a fellow writer. They prefer not to use profanity, or sex or other more sensitive topics and issues within their stories. I, on the other hand, tend to lean towards whatever the story requires in order to move it forward and well, whatever it takes…just tell the damn story.

  • Do you allow your personal feelings about these elements to keep you from pushing the boundaries in order to not violate some sacred or self imposed oath you’ve made?
  • Are you afraid of what Mary Jo at PTA will say when she sees the F word in your book?
  • Do you allow the judgments of others to hold you back from expressing yourself?
  • Are some subjects just too taboo for you to touch?
  • Would you use a different pen name if you had to in order to protect yourself out of fear that someone you know might raise an eyebrow?

There are all brands of writers. If you enjoy writing books that are cozy and comfortable, I applaud you. That’s your lane and you’re comfortable in it. This post isn’t about you. You’re fine doing what you love and most likely, your audience loves you for these sweet stories. This post is for those who hold back from pushing a readers buttons or fears some sort of backlash if they explore new subject matter or God forbid, a character does something bad.

Just to clarify again, I have authored two book series’ that couldn’t be more different. They are both Historical Fiction but one is a family saga / paranormal and the other is about the Golden Age of Piracy. One story explores love, relationships, spirituality and faith while the other delves into the dark, dank and seedy atmosphere of piracy, murder and every other awful thing you can imagine. I know deep down that I haven’t fully explored myself as a writer and in truth, I have no reservations about digging deeper and I already have a story on my imagination radar that will push my limits even further.

The point I’m making is there are plenty of wonderful, wholesome and clean books out there. My Fireflies series are two good examples of that. Although they explore relationships and adult subject matter, it is written as to how a family in a small town in 1800’s Pennsylvania would experience it. Then at the opposite end of the bookshelf, are my pirate tales. Violence, foul language, sexual situations, objectification of women, rape, murder, thievery and abuse are prevalent throughout. I’m not afraid of that. I’m not afraid when my characters are evil just as I’m not afraid when my characters are good. They reflect the era and environment in which they are written. I love Jack Sparrow but he’s about as much of a real pirate as I am.

I don’t believe what we write is any indication of our own personal moral compass. Writing is a journey in exploration of one’s imagination. Writing what we know is a proven myth, except when it comes to our characters. Just as Anne Rice has never personally interviewed nor experienced real vampires and Stephen King hasn’t encountered Giant, prehistoric insects or lived in an extra-terrestrial dome, we imagine these tales. What we hold onto throughout them are the players. People are people, whether they live in a galaxy far far away or in a world where by an unlucky draw from a fish bowl, they have to fight in a game for their lives to feed their families. Writing about pirates doesn’t make me one any more than killing off main characters book after book makes George R.R. Martin a murderer. However, that’s what makes being a writer the most wonderful and tantalizing craft!

What if Mary Shelley had created her monster like this?

Sully

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or Bram Stoker’s Dracula like this?

sparkle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Okay strike that…I kinda liked Twilight but you know what I’m saying.

Now what say you?

What is OFF LIMITS?

What is it?

What’s holding you back?

 

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