What a week: the first in a while where I’ve considered piranha diving to be a more rewarding career. I try to put on a happy face, since our mindset influences our wellbeing and abundance. You know: think positive, positive things will happen in our lives. Simple, right? Not really. In practice there are a million gnats–anxiety, unsurety, insecurity–that bite us each day, each hour, until we either get a break or have an explosion to release all that angst. I don’t really ‘explode’ so much as simmer, brood and scowl a lot.
I think my swing in mood arrived with the fallout from getting my business affairs in order. After staring at years of accounting, I was left questioning this path that I’d taken. Was it wise; was it fulfilling? Of course, an audit probably isn’t the best time to ponder these questions. Although, that’s exactly when doubt strikes us: when we are off-guard and weak. My mood simmered, as explained above, growing gloomier and gloomier–little rainclouds following me around. It didn’t help that my partner was away and I was left to fester on my own, which I do so very, very well. It didn’t help that one of my editors has gone MIA, and two others have shifted careers and may not be able to take on the last two novels. (IMPORTANT ASIDE: If you are an editor familiar with my body of work PLEASE CONTACT ME!)
Later on in the week I received a rejection email from a small-potatoes publisher I’d contacted on a whim a year ago, with a mea culpa: “We’ve been so busy, lovely work, but didn’t quite connect, ta-ta.” I think that email sent me over the edge with its absurdity. I mean, I deal with rejection in my line of work on a near hourly basis–sometimes quite nasty feedback. But it was the timing, as well as the ridiculousness of emailing someone a year later who has either moved on (as I have), or, who has become a dusty skeleton hunched over their laptop who died waiting at their screen for a reply. Publishers wonder why the market has changed. I don’t. Artists–people, in general–have better things to do than wait forever to be discovered, and this wonderful thing called the internet was invented that skips a lot of the unnecessary gatekeeping, focus groups and fairs (although, and note, I’ve had great success with Foreword’s book fair representation).
Still, most of the time the fight for visibility feels like you’re crawling up a hill of butter. Especially as an independent artist, where the echo chamber of your thoughts and solitude can become a second thorn in one’s side. I really respect authors of all backgrounds: whether traditionally, hybrid or full on self-published. We all fight the same fight, despite different degrees of support. It takes courage to decide you’re going to live your life and try to make a living being a storyteller, which is hardly a stable or profitable career. (I’m reminded of a line from one of Rupaul’s songs: “Many stars have lived their lives and fulfilled their dreams while living out of a storage facility in Fort Lauderdale…”)
Anyway, it’s that universal courage (and jaded-sass) that comes from being an artist that eventually drew me out of my slump. That, and the power of cat-magic. I mean look at that cuteness, that need. It’s difficult to be a grump when a tiny, furry, demanding creature like this looks upon you for everything.
I also had a conversation with a lovely reader of mine on Facebook, received an unexpected compliment on my work from a woman and fellow creative working hard on Secret Project #1, and had an emotional boost from my partner. With so much encouragement, I would be blind and remiss to focus on the negativity. I’m not giving up. However, I needed to have an “I’m so shit moment.” We all need those. Humility isn’t such a bad thing as long as it’s not overly self-deprecating or drawn out. My work continues, surprises are ahead, and I feel clearer in my focus than I have since I started the shaky ride that brought us here. I am an actual business now (as of last week’s organizational spree). It’s time to make that business into an empire.
But I’d be nowhere without any of you, out there, and it’s our empire of which I dream.
All my love,
P.S. That absolutely mindblowing title image from Leo certainly cheered me up, too. That’s our changeling, Adam, though much matured and wisened from his humble origins in Feast of Dreams.