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.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Awake

I dreamed about my dad last night. This may not seem unusual to you, but it's epic for me.

My dad died 30 years ago this coming May, and in all that time I've never dreamed about him. He's never even been a peripheral character in my dreams. And last night's dream wasn't anything particularly poignant, he didn't have anything earth-shattering to tell me. What I remember is we were in a group of people and he was sitting on the arm of a chair smiling at me. Just smiling. I don't remember him ever looking so happy, so radiant. I don't even think he said anything directly to me in the entire dream.

The significance is that he was there. A few years ago, during a priesthood blessing, I was told that my dad was proud of me. It was the first glimpse of contact from him that I can remember since he died. I was also told that he wanted to be here with me, to help me, but that the Lord was holding him back. At first, I admit it, I was confused and a little hurt by that. Why would God keep my dad from me like that? I knew He did it for a greater purpose, something I didn't understand at the time, but it still hurt.

I took "holding him back" to mean "preventing his presence." Now I think "holding him back" meant "reserving him for the right time."

Lately I've been struggling more than I feel I should to fulfill my purpose. It shouldn't be this hard, especially since all the pieces are in place now, or at least appear to be. I'm not working, so I have time to write. I'm not sick, so I have energy to write. Sure, the computer isn't fixed yet but that's me being a chicken. All I really have to do is put in the new motherboard and plug everything in. (maybe part of my worry is that it won't work even after all that) And I can still continue to use the laptop even though it's power isn't reliable and it hurts my back to sit and type at it. Because of its power issues, the laptop has to be used at a desk or a table. I can't sit it on my lap and recline somewhere comfortable, which kind of stinks.

But every day that I don't get some writing work done, I go to bed feeling down on myself. What am I not doing right? What key puzzle piece am I missing? The desire is there, especially when I go to bed. The time exists.  What's holding me back? I've been puzzling over this for weeks now.

Last night I had something of an epiphany about my attitude, and went to bed all excited to get up and begin the day fresh today. Last night I also got to see my dad. And this morning, while checking my email, I got a great confidence booster from a sweet friend.

All these things aligned so perfectly to set my attitude for the day. Although I didn't get up as early as I wanted to (silly cat), I still felt like I could accomplish something today--and any movement in the right direction is progress.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Amendment

I hate writing these posts, as I'm sure you're sick of reading them. But I don't like dragging out the delivery of bad or disappointing news, so here it is.

I did not finish The Lost Princess in Feb as I planned, nor did I get it to my editor. Piffle.

If you've been keeping up, you know my Jan and Feb were hardly calm and relaxed. It was as though the cosmos has unleashed fierce darts and aimed them all right at my family for a while there. I didn't get the writing done in Jan that I wanted, which put me behind in Feb. I felt though that I could still catch up, and still finish the book by my deadline.

And then the unthinkable happened. I lost the story.

Not literally, but in my head. Everything that I'd mapped out and planned turned to mush in my brain. There was no conflict worth mentioning. It wasn't writer's block--it was something far worse. Like a writer's harrowing. Or writer's torment. I could write words, but none of them led anywhere useful. Ugh.

So, basically, I could have finished a book for you but it wouldn't have been worth reading. It would have been, rather than the climactic ending to a fun series, boring and disappointing--to say the least.

Rather than dwell on this disastrous failure, I've chosen to move forward with my plan. I know this means at some point one of my projects for this year won't happen, that in order to finish TLP I will have to shelve something else that I had planned to finish this year. It's interesting, and I thought I'd share, that I was really bothered by all of this until I spent some time at the temple on Friday. It's amazing what a reset in one's perspective can accomplish.

I've already scheduled another edit for later in the year. Hopefully, I can finish TLP in April and turn it in for my May edit deadline (which was supposed to be for City of Light). This means, of course, that my scheduled release for TLP of May 27th won't happen barring a miracle (which I don't discount, but also don't expect). I'm sorry about that, but at the very least I want to have it out a year after the release of The Tyrant King. I can do that.

But, as I said, I'm moving forward. I'm completing my project for March, which happens to be a ghost writing project I've been looking forward to for some time. If I finish ahead of schedule, I may take apart The Lost Princess brick by brick, or word by word, and see what can be salvaged.

And in the mean time I need to think of horrible, awful things to do to my characters.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Kilenya and Author Andrea Pearson

My friend, Andrea Pearson, has just had the fourth book in her young adult fantasy series published. In celebration, the first book, The Key of Kilenya, is available for free as an eBook, and the second book, The Ember Gods, is available as a $0.99 Kindle eBook until March 3rd.  

The Key of Kilenya has been in the top 100 for teen fantasies on Amazon since last May and has been very popular with young (and adult) readers. They compare it to Harry Potter along with Brandon Mull's Fablehaven and Beyonders books, with a hint of Narnia and Lord of the Rings.

To download a copy of The Key of Kilenya for Kindle, click here. Check out Andrea's blog post for other formats of the eBook.
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