Monday, March 25, 2013

Giving Myself Permission

This is the kind of post I dread, because it's not the kind of news I want to share. I want to be able to tell you all everything's awesome and moving along at lightning speed and I'm right on track and books will be appearing online soon.

But I can't. I've been thinking about this for a while now, so please don't think this is a spur of the moment decision. And please don't try to talk me out of it.

I'm giving myself permission to fail. To be a failure.

I've mentioned it before, but I got my publishing contract for The Peasant Queen the same week we got the final notice from our mortgage company that we had to leave our home. That was late 2009/early 2010. TPQ did not subsequently do as well as I or my publisher had hoped, and I know that in large part it was because my ambitious marketing plan that I sent them fell by the wayside. Yes, it was difficult that they kept replacing their marketing team that whole year or so that I was trying to market my book, and ever email to them was a reminder of who I am and what I published and basically starting from scratch. I got discouraged and gave up on them. But I didn't do all the things I said I'd do either. I was trying to patch my family back together, trying to make living in that stupid duplex apartment okay--and it was never going to be okay.

And ever since then my life has been a crazy roller coaster of never having enough money, of trying to balance writing and working and my family and every time something dear to me fails to get the attention it needs. I know God wants me to write and share my words with the world, but I also know with equal certainty that He doesn't want me to sacrifice my relationships to do it.

I mention that because recently I had my daughter in for a psych evaluation to determine what was the best course of action to help get her back on track. She traced her misery and woe to the time we had to leave our home. I realized then that, as much as we had tried to make things okay for the kids, what happened left deep scars on them as well as on us. Granted, most of the kids have fared really well, but not all of them. And those shortages need attention.

On me. All of this led to some self reflection, and I realized I've been trying to fill buckets from an empty well. I'm empty. I have moments where I feel very confident and full of God's encouragement and make lofty writing and publishing goals--and then berate myself for every day I don't do anything and fall more and more behind. Because, for me at least, it's not an "every day is a new day to start fresh" kind of thing. Every day I don't write or edit that book or that project, I fall more behind on my ultimate goals for this year. And every day I feel worse and worse about myself as a writer, and that negativity spills over into other aspects of my  life.

I'm failing as a writer. I'm failing as a mom. I'm failing as a wife. You get the picture. I've got two church callings right now and can barely pull myself together enough sometimes to function in them.

When I heeded the Spirit's call to "quit my job and write" I may have read to much into it. He didn't say "quit your job and publish." He didn't even say "quit your job and stress about money to the point that you paralyze yourself and can't even get out of bed until noon."

People, I'm broken. More broken than I think I realized. And I'm giving myself permission to be broken. You have to acknowledge a problem before you can fix it, right? So, I'm taking EVERY LAST ONE OF MY PUBLISHING GOALS for 2013 and putting them on hold. Or chucking them entirely. Right now 3 published novels are going to have to be enough. I'm going to follow the Spirit to the letter and WRITE. I'm taking all the pressure off, at least what I can. It's a shortage of faith to always stress about the money, but I'm working on that every day I draw air.

I'm just going to write. For me and God. And for now let that be enough. And hope that my readers, and my friends, can understand.


Konstanz Silverbow said...


You are such a wonderful person! And don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Even the strongest have their limits.

Sending you hugs and prayers! Please, please, please, let me know if there is ANYTHING I can do for you!

Anonymous said...

It takes a lot of courage to know when you need to put things on hold or call it quits for a while. I think you are brave and wonderful and amazing! I hope things get easier for you soon.

Angie said...

Oh, Cheri, hang in there. I'm sorry things have been so tough. Remember you are a terrific person and you are loved!

Laura D. Bastian said...

Good for you Cheri for having the courage to let yourself take a break. I wouldn't call it failing, I'd call it a restart and figuring where you want to be and how to get there even though the path may look different than what you imagined. Take care of you and your family and the rest will take care of itself when the time is right.
Best wishes for you all.

Candace Johnson said...

Cheri, I found your blog through Terry Irving's Hey Sweetheart, Give Me Rewrite! reblog. I think you are so courageous to put all of this in writing. You have to follow your heart, and I believe that when you do that, everything works out for the best--even if it doesn't feel like that at the moment. Wishing you all the best, and I'll be back to read more. You are a writer who should be sharing!

Unknown said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again. You are exactly the sort of writer who should NOT stop writing.

One suggestion, I can't imagine that you can write the things is a fantasy romance novel that you write so beautifully in this post. (no one could).

What about writing what's in your heart and head and then seeing if there is a market for it? newspaper columns, self-help, who knows?

But please hand in there--I've had the wolf at my door so often that we used to invite him in for Christmas Dinner. You will survive, you will feed your family and you will look back at the hard times and laugh about it. Just don't let the tough times take all the joy out of today.

Mel Chesley said...

Everyone needs a break sometimes. You've been an inspiration to me and helping me to achieve my own writing goals, but I have to say, there are times I don't meet them and I just shrug and tell myself I'll deal with it later.
There is nothing wrong with taking a break. Gotta take care of YOU so you are there to take care of the family.