IWSG – Insecurity Overload

Happy first Wednesday (of March), a very special time in the life of any writer, especially one riddled with insecurities. The first Wednesday of every month marks the Insecure Writers Support Group (IWSG), a blog hop designed to share our doubts and fears,  to encourage and inspire, and of course, to remember that none of us are alone in this.  And we couldn’t do it without our fearless leader, Captain Alex Cavanaugh!  Feel like taking a load off from that insecurity-ridden burden? Click here to find somebody to lean on.

Gah, do I have a lot of insecurities this month. They kind of piled up on me and so I wasn’t really sure which one to talk about. Like how I still think I write like that eleven-year-old girl with a pencil and lined paper. Or how I think everyone secretly knows my books suck but don’t want to tell me because I’m a high-risk bridge-jumper (not really, but you get the point). Or how I’m tackling the marketing aspect ALL WRONG and only making a (bigger) idiot of myself.

Yes.

Yes to all of these.

My fourth book is currently out to my editor. I’m really proud of what I wrote, but I hate the fact that she’s reading it. I hate the fact that other people will be reading it when I publish in June. It’s because of my inner demon—that confidence-crushing dick that lives inside us all—continually whispering in my ear how I’m wasting everyone’s time with my nonsense.

You’re not very good.

They feel sorry for you.

No one’s buying your books which means you suck. Stop now. Stop embarrassing yourself.

Like I said—a confidence-crushing dick.

These thoughts are fleeting and I know every writer has some form of this dialogue at some point. I’ve read enough blogs and articles to know this is all part of the process, which does make me feel better. Like I’ve earned my stripes as a writer. And normally, I bat down the bitter-ass voice with my whole “fine, I wasn’t sure I was going to share this with anyone anyway” argument. Except I’ve committed now. A fan (yes! I have one of those!) reached out to ask when I was putting out the fourth book and without even thinking I said “June.” That was a week before last month’s post, hence the blog tour question.

So now I’m committed. Now I know (at least) someone will be reading all the flashbacks and fight scenes and sex scenes that I WROTE. And yeah, that kind of terrifies the shit out of me. But I’m charging forward. I’ve decided I want it more than I fear it. And I (think) I’ve decided to use these next three months as an additional marketing tool—March, April and May dedicated to the first, second and third books, respectively. What can you expect? Character info, different POV excerpts and other fun behind-the-scenes things. I don’t know. I was supposed to have it all planned out but was busy spot-checking the MS before sending it the ol’ editor.

So yeah, lots of insecurities. But some good things, too. I’m all sorts of crazy right now. What about you? Do you ever think these things? Feel these things?

Cinderella, Bitches.

And who’s registered for the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference this summer?

ME.

Watch out fugly stepsisters – the pumpkin carriage has arrived.

I did it. Registered. Picked my workshops and even signed up for Pitch Slam, which will most likely give me a panic attack day of, but for right now, excitement’s the main emotion, not dread. I’m weird (I think the word is technically awkward) with public speaking or promoting myself or doing anything other than being silly and telling jokes. But with Pitch Slam, you can actually pitch your idea to like, a real agent/editor. Who’ll listen! And think about your work! And actually give you feed back! Which seems pretty important when you’re craving cubicle escapism to sit (or stand) all day at your home keyboard.

I just hope I don’t throw up on them.

To be honest, I’m nervous. Scared. Terrified even that 1.) I’ll get on the wrong plane which will take me to Thailand or Croatia or some far off place and I’ll be forever lost in the world or 2.) I’ll actually make it to NY but the taxi will drive through the ghetto and I’ll be like “this doesn’t look like the Roosevelt” seconds before I’m looking down from a white cloud and shaking my (angelic?) head in disappointment because I really wanted to go to this conference. But basically it’s that  3.) I’m doing this by myself. Most likely. Batman may come but if he doesn’t, it’s on me, which means navigating the hotel and workshops (seriously, I’m DUMB with direction) and doing the Pitch Slam without support. You know, like, right then and there support. The hugging and the quick drink (chugging) to suppress rising nerves. I’ll be fine. I know I will. And I’m excited. Super excited, but I just don’t want to freeze. And I’m a freezer. I’m a turn tomato-red, heart-exploding, body-freezing pansy that nearly had to run off stage during my soliloquy in Drama Class. Yeah right that prepared me for the real world. More like secured my distaste for the spotlight. But it’s okay, because everyone has fear sometimes right? And it’s your choice to:

Forget Everything And Run.

or

Face Everything And Rise.

I love this. I saw it on Pintrest recently and was like omg, totally my new mantra. Besides, “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” – someone important. (I love quotes about fear. It’s like saying it over and over will make it easier to face, like using ‘Voldemort’ instead ‘he who shall not be named’ because you’re finished giving him power. And you’re not scared of his creepy, snaky face anymore.)

So I’m going to step outside of my freaky-breakdown-reaction mode and rock it. I’m going to rock this conference and the Pitch Slam, even if nothing comes out of it other than a lot of useful information and a serious minibar charge.

So watch out, NY.

Cinderella’s going to the ball, bitches.

 

Early For a Change

I wrote a post about not having been where I wanted to be by now. Or by 30, which is coming this September. I was kind of bummed, and a lot of you commented that none of us are where we want or thought we would be by this terrifying (although kind of exciting) milestone. And it helped. A lot.

And then I found this on Pintrest. Ages that well-established authors got their big break or wrote the work that defined them as an artist. I read it to Batman, as I do anything that excites me, and after listing all the names and ages, I turned to him and exclaimed (possibly shouted) “I’m not late! I’m early!”

If you’re like me and too lazy to click on the link, here’s the rundown: ages range between 26-65 and cover authors from James Joyce to Dan Brown, from C.S. Lewis to J.K. Rowling. The exciting part is that the majority fell in their 30’s and 40’s. Which means, on average, this little 29 year old is early, folks.

I’d been meaning to share this link but I’m lazy and forgetful. More so the latter. And then this morning, I opened my email to find my daily TUT–notes from the Universe. Know about this?  Here’s today’s:

“Because you’ve been wondering…

You’re way ahead of schedule. It’s time you learn to let the rest unfold.

It doesn’t matter that others are talking about you.  They sense the profund effect you’ll have on humanity.

And yeah, you can pretty much coast from here. Just remember, coasting implies that you’ll stay in motion.

TV will suit you,

The Universe”

Things we learn from this Blog Post:

1 Check out TUT. It’s a great place to find inspiration and belief in yourself. Because you’re amazing and filled with power and potential and are part of something much, much bigger than yourself. And sometimes, all it takes are a few notes from the Universe to remind you. So check it out. You’ll thank me. Just like I thanked my mom who told me about it.

2. Don’t beat yourself up. You may not have arrived exactly when you wanted to, but when you’re supposed to. Fate knows what’s going. She’s got it all under control.

 

Arizal Wars Kickstarter

I’ve decided to do a Kickstarter campaign.

Yes, the excitement here never ends.

I’ve been going back and forth on it for a while. Mostly because I wasn’t sure that I could, which, taking a step back, I realized was simply fear. It’s not that I couldn’t do it. It’s that I was afraid of doing it. And what’s there to be afraid of? Not being funded? Okay, well that leaves me with no money, just like now. So, failing at Kickstarter means being in the same place. But succeeding would bring a change. Possibility. And hopefully funds, which is what I need to get Escape in paperback and Crusade in ebook. I’m really excited guys. I’ve been meaning to advertise but then I get bogged down with the whole writing thing. Most nights when I open my laptop, I think, “I’m going to research marketing. I’m going to look at Goodreads advertising and study my self-publishing sites and figure out what to do next!” But then I reread what I wrote the night before and a better sentence forms or a new idea pops in my head. “I really should say it this way. And I didn’t do a great job at describing XYZ…” I think it’ll be a quick edit and then forty minutes later, I’m working on the manuscript when I should’ve been learning how to sell it. But what can I say? I have a compulsion.

So Batman asked me what my plan was. He wants to get to the Castle-Mansion already and spend his days golfing and fixing me gourmet meals that can ONLY be cooked in a gourmet kitchen, apparently. Uh-huh. And, an avid South Park viewer, he mentioned Kickstarter. If the four Colorado kids could raise some ridiculous amount of money by claiming the name “Red Skins,” why couldn’t I reach a plausible goal of $3,000.00?

BECAUSE BOOKS AREN’T FUNDED ON KICKSTARTER, BATMAN.

…Or so I thought.

Apparently they can be funded. And loads of them are. And I mean LOADS.

After some research on work breaks and lunches, and an occasional evening when I opted not to open that Microsoft word doc, I discovered you CAN fund a book. And I have three of them. So what am I waiting for?

NOTHING.

I’m planning a sixty day period from the beginning of February through the end of March (you know, when people get money back from overpaying the government) and I’m thinking my goal will be $3,000.00. Maybe $3,500.00.

As excited as I am about my real first stab at advertising and the campaign in general, I’m *really* excited about the Backer Rewards:

ANYONE who contributes will have their name listed in the final print version under a KickStarter Acknowledgements Page. I’ll be doing three designs of shirts, an Honorary Rogue Certificate (signed by Rox) to those who pledge $50.00 (Rogue Backer Reward), note cards, extra scenes, questions to the characters…. Lots of stuff!

I’m really excited. I’m excited for you, I’m excited for me, and I’m excited for the few fans out there because I can’t wait for you guys to see what’s to come.

(Hint—it’s going to be awesome!)

Stay tuned for more information or shoot me an email if you have a question.

And yes, you can come to the Castle-Mansion for a swim in the llama-shaped pool.

That went without saying.

One Foot After the Next

I’m overwhelmed.

I’ve been looking at book review blogs and I had NO idea what I was getting into. It’s not a kiddy pool. It’s a motherfucking ocean and my orange floaties are only half inflated. This indie publishing stuff is hard. And apparently, an entirely different world that I didn’t know even existed. Don’t get me wrong—I’m psyched that I have the ability to put my stuff out there. But so does everyone else and MY GOD I’m standing in a flood zone. The water’s above my head and I’m trying my best to keep breathing.

Keep breathing.

But fuck.

Holy mother of everything sacred—there are MILLIONS of review sights with requests backlogged until December and here I come like a lost nomad, tapping on someone’s shoulder, hoping for a measly handout. Wow. Have I been not paying attention all this time? I mean, I only ventured into self publishing last year so*obviously* I’m learning as I go. I get that. But it’s like… a thing. A really competitive, really adult-professional thing that makes me want to pull the covers over my head and drown myself in a book. This is an Odysseus-length race and I’m still at the start line, scratching my head and wondering why I’m surrounded by a cloud of dust. I’ve got my water bottle and my sandals straps are tied and all, but I know I’m going to fall. A lot. I’ve probably already fallen and not realized it. The good thing is I can still get up, dust off my knees, retie the laces and try again.

It’s all about one foot after the next.

I’m glad no one told me it was going to be this hard. Actually, I’m ECSTATIC. Because even though I’d like to give myself credit, I’m not sure I would’ve ventured forward knowing what I do now. Okay… maybe I would. Just because this dream is that potent. But I would’ve needed a lot more wine and a few dozen bags of Oreos. Fuel for the journey to Troy.

Because that’s what this is.

A journey. Most times it seems impossible. Ridiculously, mind-numbingly impossible. I keep thinking how am I going to do this? How will I reach the finish line? There’s no way I can get there—not in this lifetime. But at least I’ve started, right? That’s good. That’s something. Every journey starts with a single step they say. And I’ve taken one or two of those. A stumble, maybe, but there’s been progress. I just need to keep breathing, have faith and continue putting one foot after the next.

And I’ll get there.

I know I will.

Make it Better

I finished the first draft of my third book yesterday.

I gave myself until the end of March to finish it and I made the cut so I celebrated with a big glass of Riesling left over from my parent’s visit a few weeks ago. Definite time for celebrating. Except now that the first draft is done, it’s back to the beginning to start rewriting and then it’ll be onto the next draft and the next and the next. I’m not sure how other authors do it—if they just keep combing through their stories or if they focus on one part and rework it until it’s perfect. I’m sure there are *tons* of different ways that you can build a story but personally, I just keep going back and making it better.

Just make it better.

That’s what I have to tell myself.

For a long time, I had to get past my own negativities when I would write something and then look back and realize it was complete shit. Okay, maybe not COMPLETE shit, but it definitely had an odor. Why did I think it was good? It was *terrible*and I felt *terrible* for writing something so not share-worthy when I’m supposed to be good at it.

It’s so easy to give up on yourself in the beginning. To take a look at something and think it’s incredibly subpar so it’s obviously not worth it. Or not for you. Or some other excuse to make yourself feel better because you’re not proud of what you did. That’s the dangerous point. Right there. Because you’re holding a gun to your dreams and it’s so damn easy to pull the trigger. Especially if wounded pride is involved. There were *countless* times I thought about giving up and trying a new story or even something different with my life. Yeah, I love to write—it’s my favorite thing on the planet—but I could also be good at interior design. I like hanging things. And picking out paint pallets. That could work.

It’s also incredibly easy to keep switching directions, to keep trying new things because the last thing you did didn’t quite work out. I’m not saying it’s bad to find what you want or what you’re skilled at—that’s a good thing! I totally encourage people to find their passion. But it’s when you know what it is, you know what path you were given and it’s just such a challenge at first that you give it up for something way easier that you don’t like half as much. That’s the death of the dream right there. And it’s a commonly sad, sad story.

The trick is jumping the hurdles. Because that’s all they are—little shit blockades used to deter you from the end. But they’re short for a reason: so you can jump over them and get to the other side. Life is FILLED with hurdles and they’re masked in every different camouflage available. For artists, a lot of it is doubt and fear. I don’t think I’m good enough/I’m afraid to put this out there. What if it sucks? What if I suck? Or maybe that transcends to everything and everyone. But if everyone gave into doubt and fear and tripped and fell over those totally jumpable hurdles, we’d still be back in cave times doubting that a wheel could be of any substantial value. Hurdles are GOOD. Hurdles mean there’s something on the other side. And once you’re there—aha! You’ve done it. You’ve made it. How awesome is that because now you know you can do it. Again and again if you have to.

Picking up the pen or opening the laptop to keep writing after you produced shit the day before is the best thing. Because that’s you jumping high in the air and soaring over your own doubt. Maybe yesterday wasn’t the best day for your work. Today will better. And next week or next month when you come back to it, even better then. Because you keep coming back to it. You keep working on it. You keep making it better.

I will say that when I was writing my first book and really struggling and wondering if it was something I could actually do one day, I would look up a lot of quotes. I get a sort of high when I read inspirational tidbits. It’s like fuel to the passion-o-meter. And there were so many from Ray Bradbury and Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein that I simply *loved*. And still do. The one though, that I think kept me going the most is by Thomas Edison:

Our greatest weakens comes in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is to always try just one more time.

Bam. Now I’m a believer in my own success.

It’s your turn.

Fear of Failure

I’m afraid of failure.

There, I’ve said it. Or typed it, I guess. Either way, the message is the same. I’m shaking in my boots, hiding under the bed, covering-my-face-with-a-pillow-terrified. Of failure. Something which is inevitably part of life. So… why am I so afraid of it? I’ve failed before. PLENTY of times. But I’ve dusted my knees off, gotten back up, and tried not to make the same mistake again. Or, tried to learn enough not to fall again. It happened of course, on numerous occasions, surrounding numerous things. But that’s okay. The world kept turning and I’m still here. So, again, why am I so afraid? And of something as common place as failure?

I’ve asked myself this time and time again, as I’m sure several people do. My answer might be different from yours, but what I’ve come up with is this: disappointment. I’m afraid of disappointing. Disappointing me? You? Maybe both. It’s like, if I fail, then I’ve let everyone down. And for me, that’s the worst thing imaginable.

I’m many things. A writer, a comedian, a people person… and with all these traits, I want to make sure I’m meeting expectations, keeping up to everyone’s high hopes. It’s like the world will come crumbling down if it doesn’t work out the way I want it to.

I’ve wanted to be a writer since I can remember. It probably reaches back to the days of Barbie dolls and playing with the magnets on the fridge. But I’ve been told *countless* times that I should be a comedian. Even today. Today I was told I should make people laugh for a living. Which is an awesome thing to hear, don’t get me wrong. But what if I get up on that stage and freeze? Like I did in my acting class during my monologue? I’m telling you—if I’m ever put into Azkaban, the dementors would be sucking that memory out of me over and over again. It’s the worst. Freezing in front of people, yes, but failing them. I went up on that stage, knowing I could kick ass but then I didn’t. And it sucked. Hard core sucked. And I never want to feel like that again. But yet, here I sit. Typing away a blog that will be exposed to the internet universe for reading and review. And my book, Escape from Harrizel, is out there, up to be torn apart and critiqued. And that terrifies the shit out of me.

But other days I’m a ball of confidence. (Is that the right term? Ball of confidence? Sounds off…) I walk around like I see the paparazzi already and it’s on these days, my shoulders are back and held high. I guess we all have good, strong days where we believe in ourselves and other days where we just want to give up, because that seems the right thing to do. Not because we want to, but because it makes sense. I suck, so I should just give up. For me, it’s that fear of failure. If I don’t exceed, the world will end so maybe I should save myself the effort. And disappointment.

So believe me, I may look confident—and most times, I am—but the truth is, I’m desperately afraid of disappointing you.

And me.