It’s been a while since I’ve spoken with you, hasn’t it? I promised these posts would be semi regular and they just haven’t been, so I apologise for that.
Over the past couple of weeks you may have noticed that both Ileandra and Raven have been struggling to get things done. To be productive. The fact is, they’re struggling because I am struggling and I think it’s about time I addressed some of the issues I feel are contributing to the problems. You never know, it might help us fix them.
Oh, and if you really can’t be bothered to read through all the headings, there is a TL:DR version below. :p Because I’m nice like that.
I’m ill again. Not like other times when I’ve been laid out for days with full-body problems, but I am in bed and have been for a couple of days. I have a cough and it hurts like buggery. I’m also in the middle of a series of referrals from my GP. I won’t go into huge detail—that’s not what this blog is for—but I will say that my entire lifestyle needs an overhaul if I intend to save myself from some of the discomforts and regular illnesses I’m currently experiencing.
I even have gym membership now. o.O Only for six months, but I have it. Seems crazy—I’ve never been a gym bunny before, except for my university days—but I plan to go twice a week and maybe work upwards from there. I should be going today, actually. I’ll let you know how that goes. 😉
Next week my boys start nursery. Yes . . . I realise they’ve been at nursery for a year now, but I mean a nursery attached to a school. They have uniforms. Yes . . . I know. My boys are three years old and yet the school told us that if we intend to take up a space with them for Foundation One sessions, they, like the rest of the children attending, are required to wear uniforms.
This, on the surface, seems like a small thing, but it’s not. Part of me just doesn’t know what to do. Whether I should spend every waking moment with them because from next week they will spend every weekday afternoon in school. Or if I should just act as normal so as not to freak them out.
I had to buy shoes over the weekend. We all went—myself, Dave and the boys—and bought trousers, polo shirts and shoes to go with the official school sweatshirts I bought two days before. I was a mess. Pretty much on the verge of really unattractive tears for the whole shopping trip (except for the point that Sprog1 looked up from his KFC and told me sweetly and calmly ‘Mummy, I’ve done a wee.’ — he was in pants rather than a nappy that day. *sigh*).
I have this sense of time passing very quickly; too quickly for me to achieve all the things I want to do. I have so many ideas I want to write, so many characters to explore, so many adventures to get through and time is passing to fast for me to do it. Or, even worse, I’m moving too slowly. That’s crippling.
Raven has one major project left for the year: drafting the third novella in the ‘Slippers & Chains’ franchise. At the time of writing she is 168 words in.
While keen to return to the lives of Karen and Dan, I find that Raven is stalling over two small, but significant details. 1) there is far less ‘erotica’ in the outline for this third story than in the previous two. 2) the level of drama and emotional writing required for this story to work as it should is far beyond anything she has written thus far.
It’s taken me some time to figure this out, but these, to me, appear to be the blockades in the road. I’m not yet sure how I plan to fix these things, but knowing what the problems are is a fantastic start. Maybe more off-the-cuff practise in writing things with true emotional resonance? Maybe some character profiles and/or interviews to get deeper into Dan’s head? And Karen’s for that matter?
Of my two pseudonyms, Ileandra seems like the one with more to do and more of the burn to do it. ‘Walking The Razor’s Edge’ should be back from betas now—there are still a couple lagging—but ‘Dead And Alive’ is ticking along nicely too. Yesterday I mentioned that I’ll be sticking with my original plan to release the episodes every other month, but I still want to write more fantasy.
This is a contributing factor to the problems Raven is having. I want to write more fantasy at the moment. This is great for Ileandra, not so great for Raven.
But it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It just means I need to re-evaluate the plans I laid out for myself at the start of the year.
But Ileandra . . . I have plans falling out of my ears for her. Short stories about shape shifters, medical thrillers, vampires (of course vampires!) and even non-fantasy-esque stuff like family dramas and children’s books. All those things would come under Ileandra’s remit (or perhaps even my own name *gasp!*).
The problem I have here is that Saar’s Legacy is so close to complete that I don’t want to let it slip and forget about it.
Work Put In vs Tangible Reward/Result
Since I’ve been so unable to work over the past three weeks, I’ve done a lot of reading and researching. Mostly reading of shorts from the Breathless Press crowd and other books I’ve agreed to review (you may have noticed more reviews going up on Saturdays). My research has been focused on ways to increase visibility on Amazon.
Amazon, though not the only vendor I sell through, is the only one through which I expect to make any significant number of sales. And so far that has proven to be the case. But when I say ‘significant’ I’m talking about single figures over the space of weeks.
Looking at my current sales graph, I’ve made four sales across all the books I’ve release in the past six weeks. Four.
Now . . . this isn’t intended to be a pity party or a plea for sales—though obviously if you’re moved to buy something, please feel free!—but more an observation on the reality of self publishing.
Self publishing is hard. Getting noticed is harder. Making significant sales is next to impossible without the influence of a tonne of different factors over which I have no control: reader climate, Amazon algorithms, current reading trends, blind luck.
I’ve always said that I’m not a ‘lucky’ person. I’m never going to win millions of pounds in the lottery, but I’m never going to be hit by lightning or run down by a bus. That sort of luck I can handle. 😉
But this does mean I have to focus on the things I can control: output and quality.
As a self publisher I have absolute control over what I release, when I release it and how I release it. I control price, length, vendor and reach. If I wanted, I could choose to sell only in the UK. I’ve no idea why someone might do that, but the choice remains. And it’s my choice. Similarly, I can choose whether or not to focus on fantasy and spec-fiction or whether I should drift more into romance and erotica.
Confidence . . . ?
My issue seems to be that I don’t really believe I have the right (or talent) to do either of the things described above. So I dither or panic, or get into such a flap that nothing happens for days, then weeks, then—in really bad scenarios—months.
You may say ‘But look at all the titles you’ve released since 2013! Look at your blog and your newsletter and your this, that and the other. You must be oozing confidence.’
Heh, I’m the absolute master of the blag. 😉 I do these things 1) because I know I need to and 2) because if I keep doing them, one day I’ll convince myself that I’m allowed to/good enough to.
It’s often said that if you tell yourself the same lie enough times, then you’ll eventually begin to believe it. Well, my writing life is like that.
The reality is that every other author/writer/artist, in some form or another, is experiencing what I am right now. Even those big household names like Stephen King and JK Rowling. Everyone has the fear. Everyone has the self doubt. Everyone has their own battles with heath and life in general.
The difference is, you don’t see it with these people because it doesn’t stop them writing. They do it anyway. It may hurt, and leave them stinging at night with ideas whirling through their heads, or their hearts aching with dissatisfaction and self doubt, but they do it anyway.
The fact that I know these folk are going through the same problems as me comforts me.
And What Am I Going To Do About It?
Not a damn clue, ha! Sunday was pleasant in that I allowed myself time to free write and the product of that was posted to the blog yesterday. It proves, at the very least, that I’m capable of writing something that’s fun and that I can still write quickly and freely if I let myself.
So many step one should simply be to allow myself more time to do that. To perhaps focus less on the schedules put together at the start of the year, which, let’s face it, were incredibly ambitious and probably more than someone might do even if they worked full time at writing on a 9-5 schedule without children to care for. Perhaps through allowing myself to have fun once more, rather than treating every tiny aspect as ‘work’ or ‘my job’ or ‘my career’ I’ll be more productive by accident.
Maybe by checking in more often, with posts like these, I’ll find myself able to pin point issues before I get into a state in which I’m not longer able to work beyond feelings of inadequacy and talentlessness (is that a word?).
I’m not sure what the best way forward is, but the very act of writing this post seems like a positive step. Sorry it’s been so rambly . . . I need to get better at that.
You Talk Too Much! Gimmie The TL:DR Version!
My own insecurities are getting the better of me, on top of the sense that I’m working too slowly to produce all the words I want to in the time I have allotted to me. Worse yet, the pressures of self publishing successfully have let me to fear that I’m not good enough or talented enough to pretend even as much as I have been doing.
The solution? Write more for fun, lean back from scheduled projects and remember what it is to write what I feel like, rather than for a project. Perhaps through doing that I’ll find myself more able to work at all.
o.O Huh. If it was possible to condense this post into two paragraphs, why did I need upwards of 1,700 words to write it? *sigh* Writers, eh?