I ordered some author’s copies of my books. If you have not yet published your work, I cannot recommend it enough. Those of you who have published – you know what I’m talking about when I say how amazing this feels.
What kept me from doing this years ago?
What keeps any of us from doing what we want to do? For me, it was:
- Unknown options
- Busy doing “more important” things
- Lack of confidence and persistence
- Lack of motivation
- Too hard
- Brain fog
1. When I was young, I didn’t know you I could. I had a poem that won an award in school. A Golden Key, maybe? If I went back in time, I could have started then, writing, compiling, publishing. But there was no internet. There was self-publishing, but it cost a lot of money and there was no easy way to market. Even if there was, I didn’t know about it. I didn’t even think about it. Published authors were other people.
2. When I was in college, I took a writing class. It was difficult because of the quantity of work it demanded. But I stayed up all night, I worked in other classes, I spent hours at the computer center every night. The final grade for the class was based on 20 pieces you turned in at the end of the semester.
The last one I had to do before I turned it in the very next morning at 9AM had to be an explanation of how to do something mundane. It had to be a certain number of words, which would result in several pages. I couldn’t think of anything that was mundane that I could talk about for several pages – or even 1 page.
So I wrote an easy on “How to Write an Essay with Writer’s Block”. It was a play-by-play of my thinking process. Total stream of consciousness. I included things like “How many words is this so far? 124? That’s it? Maybe I should add a description of the room.” I got an A on my final. I got an A++ on that portion of it. Why? Because I was creative. I didn’t give up. I worked until 5 minutes before class, walked over, and turned it in, still warm from the printer. Still picking those strips of holey paper from the sides (shout out to anyone old enough to know what I’m talking about).
I wanted to be a writer and I proved I could do it. But … I didn’t have time for that. Writing poems and songs was a hobby – people didn’t make a living that way. I needed to focus on getting a degree, getting a career, building a life. Besides, authors were other people.
3. When I had been married for a few years and life got more stressful, I began a novel. I needed the creative outlet and ended up writing most of it over the next couple years. But then I put it down. I decided it wasn’t very good. I didn’t like where the ending had taken it. It was too short.
I decided to try to publish a few poems instead, but that ended as you could probably guess – I got three rejections and no response for four others and decided I didn’t like seeing/hearing “no” enough to keep trying. Obviously, authors were other people.
4. When I got divorced and moved in with my mother in my 30s, I had time on my hands. I spent half of everyday looking for a job or working part time for 5 months. Why didn’t I write then? No energy. No motivation. No money – had to focus my brain power in finding employment. I had no motivation. I didn’t even think of it. I had fun, laughed a lot with mom, dated, all sorts of things. But I didn’t write. Why not? I just … didn’t feel like it. I wasn’t anything – certainly not an author. Published authors were other people.
5. I worked hard and found a solid career. I married a wonderful, supportive man. I picked up my novel again but still didn’t like it. I had grown so much since I started it, it wasn’t even interesting any more. So I began threading a whole new story line into it. A second main character. It began to get pretty good. But … what was the point? I couldn’t seem to finish it. It was too hard. I had a bunch of issues in it that I kept going back to. It wasn’t good. Published authors were other people.
6. My uncle published a novel. Self-published it. And it was good. Not winning any NYT awards but … really good. I stopped writing and thought. I started a new novel. But I had brain fog issues. Work kept me running. I couldn’t keep the story in my head. I couldn’t organize my thoughts. Had to focus my energy on staying afloat in my life. But published authors weren’t just other people. My uncle published a novel.
7. I gave up. I put down the novel. Both of them. I stopped feeling guilty about it. Then, while unpacking in my new home, I found some of my old poems and songs. I read them and some of them were good. I was proud of some of them. But what would my family think about my honest thoughts? No, it was too embarrassing to bare my soul in public like that. But, maybe just for myself … I began to write poetry again. Just for me. I didn’t need to be published to write.
8. One year ago, I decided to make some New Year’s resolutions. I don’t normally, because motivation is a real issue for me and I knew I probably would not do them. But I had to try. Just for one year. I would lose weight, get strong, and publish a book of poetry.
Twelve months later, I was disgusted with myself. Hated how weak I was. Filled with self-loathing. I was so stupid. So weak-willed. I hadn’t exercised. Had gained a few pounds, actually. Hadn’t published a book. But maybe next year. Sure, why not? I started researching. Then I started editing. I took all my best poems from the past and from the last couple years since I started writing again. I cleaned them up.
On December 30, I had a good little book put together and a clear understanding of how to work with Amazon Kindle enough to get it on there. I went to bed. I lay in bed on New Year’s Eve thinking that yes, I had worked on it, but I was still not going to accomplish a single thing I set out to do. Fine then. Authors were other people. I don’t know why I even thought about it.
On the morning of December 31st, I lay there in silence thinking about what a failure my whole life has been. But then I asked aloud, “You know what? Screw that.” My husband looked at my funny as I stood up, went to my computer, sat down, and started working. I eventually got dressed and had a bite to eat. But mostly, I sat there for the next 14 hours.
At 11:45 PM on December 31, 2020, I hit submit. I became a published author.
Over the last year, I published two poetry chapbooks and am planning to publish a third one at the turn of the year. My resolution for next year is to finish a novel. Hopefully I will publish it at the turn of next year, but if its just a 1st draft, thats fine. No pressure needed. Just me, doing the thing I have decided to do.
And here in front of me is the proof that I can. Am I a best seller yet? No. Is this making me money? No. Am I proud of my work and my accomplishments? Hell, yes. Because I can touch the proof. I can see it and smell it. It’s real. It’s really mine. It’s really me.
Now it’s your turn. What’s stopping you?
You can do it. Take your time, understand yourself and what issues you need to work around. Take the pressure off or put more on – whatever works for you. It turns out, I just needed to wait about 40 years for the right moment. That’s fine. I’m sure there will be more roadblocks. That’s ok too. Because I’m a human being with human issues and I learned something very important over the last several decades. Published authors aren’t other people.
People are just people.
With Love, Lucidity Lamb