January 14, 2015

Words are eternal

I haven't posted in a while because I've been too dark. I decided to drive up to Ojai — my favorite place on earth — to get right with myself, and God. There's something magical up here in these mountains.

I just read a post from one of my favorite authors, Hugh Howey, regarding the self-publishing industry. I was so inspired by his words that I had to write a new post. He's the reason I decided to stop torturing myself with trying to publish the traditional route.

A few years ago, I had been shopping around my memoir (the one that died a horrible death). I had just received my fiftieth "thanks, but no thanks" and I felt like giving up. Instead, I put the memoir down and picked up my fiction manuscript I had started a while back. A little scrappy thing called The City Center. While I was at a writer's conference I had spoken to an agent and she liked the first ten pages, but asked me why there were people living inside the city center and I didn't know. Yikes. So I started brainstorming ideas and rewriting my manuscript, but I just couldn't come up with a solid reason about why they were inside the damn center.

Until one day in church, I heard the answer. It came to me like a bolt of lightning. I scribbled it down on a piece of paper and from that point I was able to finish my manuscript. Once it was in a good place, I started drafting my query letter. Yes, I was going to start querying agents again. Surely I'd have better luck. This book wasn't about my depressing alcoholic life. It was a dystopian sci-fi in the same vein as The Hunger Games. It'd be a hit! But when I started writing the query letter I got sick to my stomach. I just couldn't — no matter how hard I tried — come up with a reason to put myself through that torture again.

That's when I started reading Hugh Howey's story about his self-publishing journey and I thought maybe I could take that route. I had already self-published a couple of humor books and a book of essays, and though they were more personal and not marketed, I knew I had it in me to give it a shot. Only I wanted to take a more professional approach. I realized if I wanted to have any inkling of success, it'd be like running my own business. I voraciously studied the self-publishing industry and marketing. When I finally felt like I kinda sorta maybe knew what I was doing, I published The City Center.

Two years later, I have three published works and all three have hit Amazon's bestseller list in their category many times. I still haven't hit my childhood dream of making the NY Times bestseller list and I'm not making a living from my royalties (yet), but the fact that I have published works floating around in the world — and that readers enjoy them — is the greatest joy of my life (I just wrote this to Hugh Howey). I’ve been writing since I was a little girl. I started blogging in 2006 and wrote to a tiny audience. And I still do. But that doesn’t matter. Sometimes I get caught up in the world and read too many articles about building my platform, or how to reach a wider audience, or how to be the best friggin’ marketing genius ever in the entire world. And after I spin around in the cycle for a day or two, I dry off and get back to what really matters: writing. God gave me a desire to write. I’m going to fulfill that every single day of my life. Regardless if anyone is reading, buying or talking about my work. Success comes and goes, but words are eternal.

Keep writing. It saves lives.