Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Finding my way ...

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and all month on my personal Facebook page I've been posting each day something I am thankful for in my "normal" life.  Taking a moment to look back on the last 14 months of my published writing career has given me some perspective as well, hindsight understanding on the past, and a clearer picture of the future.

With all the 'how-to' books I've read, all the advice I've been given, and all the criticism (good and bad) that has come with the writing path, I can honestly say at the end of the day the only person who can point me to what is 'right' is myself.  I don't regret any missteps I've made, I won't say I'm sorry for mistakes - because to regret or apologize for being human means in the end I really didn't learn anything but how to 'make nice'.  I have learned a lot in the last 14 months.  Some of those things were good (like how much fans really do enjoy my writing) and others were harder truths to handle (where the lines have blurred between my public and private lives and how some have shown their true colors).

I'm not perfect, no matter how many years I've spent trying to be.  I say the wrong things, do the wrong things, but who is to really say what is wrong (or right for that matter)? What feels good today could backfire tomorrow.  What I dislike now could be the biggest blessing next week/month/year. Like anyone striving for something more, I am finding my way - blindly, staggeringly, but determined nonetheless.

Honestly, last month was a hard pill to swallow for me.  I was trying to do good things via my writing, but I think people misconstrued what I was trying to accomplish.  I wanted to raise funds for Domestic Violence (and I did), but I think people saw it as a marketing ploy to increase my book sales.  Would I like to have higher sales? You betcha!  But anyone who truly knows me personally can attest to the fact that me giving back to anything is never based from a self-centered, selfish place...let alone sales!

I've always given back, because it's who I am, how I was raised.  Whether if all I gave was a smile, a kind word, a bag of groceries or clothes.  If I have extra and can spare, I will, no questions asked. I've even given more than I can spare because I knew at least I would be getting paid soon.  I've been blessed to have what I have ... and I can tell you it isn't much, if (knock on wood) I got sick again or something broke, I would be in dire straits.  I may live paycheck-to-paycheck, but at least I have a paycheck, and clothes on my back, a roof over my head, food to feed my family. You could take away everything else and I would still be blessed beyond words.

Trying to be a writer has been a gift - to make a dream a reality, but it has also been a tremendous financial burden.  I have spent more money trying to get my books out than I have brought in.  If you look at the last 14 months I am in the RED.  But maybe next year will be better, and the year after that.  Eventually I will find that footing and hold to it.  Eventually the hard work, long hours, sleepless nights, will pay off. 

So yes, while I was trying to do a good thing and give back to Domestic Violence victims I was also trying to save from putting myself further into debt to live my dream (because at some point it will be my full income, it just takes time).  Sure I was able to raise some funds (and I can tell you that almost all profit did go to, even if it meant going further in the hole).  In spite of  my best intentions, my sales actually tanked - as in ZERO sales on Amazon for all of October and November so far.  The saving grace was Smashwords.  Even lowering my prices to 99cents did nothing to get a sale.  So I jacked the prices (which I think backfired, even though my books ARE well worth the price).  It was a huge misunderstanding on a lot of levels that really left a bad taste in my mouth and me second guessing myself.  I hate that!

While I was trying to tie my writing into my philanthropic pursuits, in my "normal life" I was also giving back.  After a brief conversation with the local women's shelter, I understood there was a need for bedding.  So I started OPERATION: LINENS.  All October I collected bedding, toiletries, even some clothing, to donate to the local women's shelter. By time the month ended, with the help of A LOT of people, we were able to collect over a dozen large bags of blankets, several bags of clothing, crib bedding, and a bag of travel sized toiletries. I started OPERATION: LINENS to help, not for profit or kudos, but to fill a need for someone who maybe didn't have the ability to gain it for themselves.

I am in awe of the giving hearts of those who have helped with that endeavor and with the funds I raised through my books.  Without all the support, I know I couldn't have done any of it alone.  To know some small gesture could make a difference in someone's life is humbling and makes me appreciate even more all that I have. 

some of the donations collected
And as much as I want to merge my personal philanthropic initiatives, I almost feel like that isn't possible right now with my writing.  At least at the moment.  Maybe readers need to get to know me more, know my heart and intentions more.  Maybe I will just have to keep my charity work on the down low.  Eventually I would like to highlight a different organization each month (in addition to gathering bedding throughout the year for OPERATION: LINENS to be distributed in November to as many places as possible).  At the moment, there is no fundraising.  But in 2013, I hope to be in a place that I can give back more.

I guess the whole point of this post is to say: Please don't misunderstand that a push for sales is only about the dollar amount to fatten my pockets.  It isn't.  I push for sales because I believe in my books, I believe in my readers when they say they love the stories, and I believe the more I sell the more I can (and will) give back.

When I look at the future and the 'bigger picture', there is so much more in the things that can be accomplished through my writing.   There is the giving to those in need, there is coaching other aspiring writers to believe in themselves and go for their dreams, and (as a mother) there are the lessons in teaching my son what it means to think of others, make an impact, and never take anything for granted.

I do appreciate every last sale I get.  I appreciate every review left on a book, I appreciate the encouraging thumbs up I get at the signings and the "you go girl" comments when people see me out living my dream.  If you all knew just how in awe I am that this is my life ... words just can't express what I feel. 

I am humbled to be where I am - because I know where I've been. I know the broken dreams I've had to lay to rest and the heartbreak that has nearly done me in.  I also know the grace of a new day, the faith that the sun shines behind the storm clouds. 

As I race from one family gathering to another tomorrow, as we bow our heads to pray, please know you are all in my thoughts.  This year had it's ups and it's downs, and next year will be even better.  I pray you will stay with me on this journey.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for your comment. It will be posted shortly.

Here is what you missed!