How I Keep My Sanity Intact
Being an author ain’t easy. We have imaginary people who exist in our heads. We don’t have a regular sleep schedule. We spend hours worrying about things like plot, character development, contracts, edits, and promotion. As if that isn’t enough, the money we make is dismal, so
we’re always budgeting to pay the bills while also finding a few bucks to get our names out there. There are a lot of authors in the world, and if you don’t work at it you’ll get lost in the shuffle.
It’s enough to drive anyone insane.
I’ve come to the realization that the publishing industry isn’t all unicorns and rainbows. In fact, it can just plain SUCK. The pressure placed on the shoulders of an author never goes away. When you remove one weight, another quickly arises to take its place. It’s the nature of the beast. Eradicate one obstacle and another appears. Plan a strategy to make things easier and something else will come along to block your path. The enemy takes many forms; be it writer’s block, life intruding on writing time, or personal issues that stifle the muse.
This is why I decided a long time ago that I’m going to do things on my terms, in my own good time, but I’ll do so with risk versus reward in mind.
Once, I was very aware of how I was perceived. Everything someone had to say about my work (or me) had an impact. I struggled to retain my identity while also being a professional. It’s a difficult task to undertake. I’m outspoken by nature. I can and will tell you what I think, and I won’t do it behind your back. However, as an “author” I can’t tell you if I think you’re blowing smoke out your pie hole. The “person” who speaks on Twitter can joke about her kidlets and her life, but when it comes to the industry, I have to choose my words carefully. I’ll confess, sometimes I have to shut the internet off or walk away. There is so much I want to say about writing, the difficulty of putting your work out there, of how sick I feel whenever I know someone is reading my book. It's personal, but it isn't. It's my job, however, it hits so close to home.
Confusing? You bet your sweet ass it is.
I can’t say what I want to most of the time. I have to take it up the rear like a big girl, smile after I’ve been ridden hard and put up wet, and thank the person responsible when the deed is done. The truth is I often feel no more important than a shoe salesman, trying my best stuff a size 9 foot into an 8 ½ heel to make someone feel better about their day. It's comes with the territory. I am, for all extents and purposes, an entertainer. I'm here for your enjoyment. You'll like what I write or you won't. You paid the money for my book, therefore you are entitled to treat me in whatever manner you desire. Thems the breaks.
So what keeps me from losing it when someone crosses the line? From blowing my top when I get hate mail or a snarky comment on Twitter, Facebook, my blog, or Amazon (yes, I've gotten it there too)? What is my hidden secret to keep from going apeshit on those around me? (Aside from massive amounts of alcohol?)
My friends, fellow authors, and my family.
I step back, remember what is important, and leave the petty shit behind. At the end of the day, find what makes you happy. Bask in it, wrap yourself inside of it like a blanket. If the world ended tomorrow (how about that Rapture?) would you be proud of the time you spent being happy? Or regretful that you wasted so much of it on stupid things you can’t control? It’s an easy question to answer when you put it like that, isn’t it?
I accepted and made peace with the fact I cannot control how people react to my work, or if they'll like me as a person. I refuse to become someone I'm not for the sake of having people like me. It didn't work in high school and it certainly won't do now. I am who I am, regardless of what I do for a living. The risk of maintaining my individuality is I'll lose a reader. The reward is I'll smile each morning when I look at myself in the mirror and feel comfortable in my own skin.
That will never change.
I’ll see you all in two weeks. Until then keep your sanity intact and do what you enjoy. The rest can keep.
Jaime AKA J.A. Saare