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Back to the Drawing Board. 3/7/2011

posted Mar 7, 2011, 8:40 AM by Kathryn Simpson   [ updated Mar 30, 2011, 9:58 AM ]
When we smashed a dixie cup of bubbly against the bow of our little canoe in late January, 2010 (okay, okay--back then it was WAY bigger than a dixie cup), I was more than happy to consider this writing career in the longest of terms. I had a fairly solid grip on the odds I'd be up against. I knew writers are a dime a dozen, and marketing potential is more important to publishers than talent or the power of a sentence to move a reader. I  knew fairy tales were stuff of Rodgers & Hammerstein and Disney legend. I knew I'd have to be patient and just keep writing, regardless the rejection I'd surely receive. 

I didn't even anticipate completing The Farmer's Story until late last year, if not early 2011. I'd been noodling around with it for such a long time (since 2001, actually) while I worked "real jobs" that I couldn't conceive, once unchained for my desk job, the Johnson family's story would come out so quickly. But, a few short months later it was pretty much written. Husband and I agreed to take fate into our own hands and self-publish. The Farmer's Story was released for sale (in three exciting formats!) on September 7, 2010. I was so happy...so thrilled...so humbled and secretly deeply proud of myself for the creation.... I'm quite certain I was levitating. Autumn of 2010 was a really good time for me. But, still, I kept my eye on the horizon. I knew promoting would be a whole new challenge and I had to get busting on the second novel. I daydreamed that maybe just maybe...one day...eventually...we'd earn back the investment of the first book. I was still mostly realistic. 

Winter has left me with a bad taste in my mouth, however. It's like the taste you get when you put the posts of a 9V battery on your tongue. Metallic and urgent and not entirely gross, but still uncomfortable. I've let myself be disappointed by some media contacts that didn't follow through (naive of me, I know), and some retail contacts that have led to more loss than gain (again...naive). I've been distracted by my own righteous indignation at the popular and financial successes of projects I've judged to be contrived or ham-handed. I have not begrudged those people their successes. I say good for them!* Hurray! But I have pouted and wished I had a pinch of the fairy dust, too. 

In short, I've become an asshole. 

I will not make excuses. There aren't any. I believe there's a difference between being an ass and being a whiner. Luckily the two conditions are not mutually exclusive. Good thing, or when would I have time to go to work?

Husband urges me to go back to being patient. To think of this all as a new business. "New businesses always lose money in their first year or two or three," he says. "Yes, I know," I reply, and then I grit my teeth a bit  more. I consider how profoundly fortunate I am and how already this has exceeded my wildest dreams from even a year ago. I take deep breaths. I try not to have panic attacks.

He tells me to be patient. And I do try. But it is so so hard  now. My new neurological Life Companion has put the pedal to the metal on my To-Do List. A year ago...even six months ago...I could afford patience. I thought I had all the time in the world. I'd quit drinking. I'd quit smoking. I was getting generous, positive feedback on the book. I could just keep my nose to the grindstone and focus on the next novel and on being healthy and sober and a good wife and a good friend and daughter/sister. But, you know, the thing happened with The Diagnosis (I think of it like that--with capital letters) and I started researching. And that stuff just doesn't make a good read. That's why I'm so impatient. That's why the figurative pedal is to the metal. I can no longer rely on having "all the time in the world" to write the next novel and the next and then do the marketing and so on and so forth and such like. It's the cognition factor that has me absolutely freaking out. It's the idea that I could lose  my words. I already do, a little, when I'm tired. What do I do when a catnap isn't enough to fix it?


(There are other sources on this, of course, but I get a kick out of sourcing dummies.com) 

I don't want to get out of the canoe yet, if that makes any sense. Not now and not any time in the next 50 years or so. I don't need to buy houses off these stories, but I still want to keep publishing them. And it seems like now there's a clock somewhere ticking.

Husband is right. I have to go back to the drawing board, take the pressure off and JUST WRITE. But as little symptoms toss out reminders of potential future challenges...that clock ticks louder and I can hardly hear anything but. I may be an ass, but it's not an excuse. It just is.



*An example of someone who caught some fairy dust. Yay, Amanda Hocking! 

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