The Difficulty, But Necessity of Being Content No Matter What

I have to talk about something or I’m going to explode. It has a little bit to do with publishing, but not really. It’s so much deeper than that. I’ve been through a lot in the past year. I’ve signed a book with a publisher and seen it published. I’ve gone into bookstores and humbly asked if they’d stock my book. I’ve called libraries. I’ve been turned down. I survived a really long book blog tour and received lots and lots of emails and conversations from people who love my work and want to tell me. I’ve read some bad reviews from mean people – reviews I had no business reading in the first place. I’ve planned a book launch party, attended my first book signing. I’ve held my book for hours at a time, shocked at how amazing it feels to finally have this happen outside of my control from self-publishing. It’s different this time around.

I was on a freaking high.

A book high, and let me tell you, when it ends. It ends. I think some friends told me this would happen. Coming off a high really sucks. I’ve spent a few good crying sessions in the shower. I have no idea why I’m all of a sudden freaking out and panicking. I have another book coming out in six months. I should be so happy! And yeah, I fear that someone might be rolling their eyes because I’m published and should be happy and not complain. Ever. Well, I still have feelings and emotions, so if anyone doesn’t like that, I’m sorry. Go read another blog. I’m honest here, and I’ll talk about this stuff because I need to talk about it. SELLING YOUR WORK IS HARD. No matter how you do it, no matter how much you make, no matter why you do it. I think it’s harder than just the creating aspect. Period. Writing. Painting. 3-D design, whatever you happen to create. Putting value on your work is hard. It’s probably one of the hardest things a human being can be expected to do because you have to find a balance somewhere between that value on your work and your real worth (which is truly beyond any value) as a person. It has been hard for me to separate myself from that value and what truly makes me happy. As my publisher puts it, however, happiness is nothing more than a choice. Period.

I think the key to happiness for any artist is making that choice in spite of the perceived value of what you produce. The mere fact that I’m creating something I love should be enough. It is enough. I was happy before I was published, so I’m the same kind of happy as I was then. The only difference is that I now have more exposure for my work and that has dragged me down more than I expected. As I contemplate more and more why that is, I understand more things about myself and what I need with all these changes going on.

So what do I need?…

To wake up every morning and make that decision to be content no matter what. Because constant happiness and joy is a bit sickening, but being content every day is something I can do.

And here’s my little pep-talk between me, myself, and I, but you’re welcome to listen in. Because I don’t care what happens to you, how many times you’ve been rejected, how sucky you think you are, how badly you want something, how much better you think anybody is than you. None of that is anything but a choice you make with how you feel about it. Period. If you can’t be content with where you are now, even in the crappiest, darkest of times, that will never change until you do.

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle

22 comments

Liana Brooks

You're human, stop beating yourself up about not being happy 100% of the time. It happens. Things throw us off our groove. Take a deep breath. Read a good book. Get some sunshine. Let it go. *have more chocolate*

Tere Kirkland

I had to have cocoa for breakfast this morning. :PI've been feeling this way lately about my "successes" in publishing, that they're not enough, or that things aren't living up to my expectations. But it's not worth getting so upset about. I've been unable to write my wip because I've been feeling so sorry for myself, and it's only served to make me more depressed, which shows me that I need to be writing to stay happy. I just need to remember that.I hope things look a little brighter for you soon, Glam!

Michael Offutt

Ooh you're gonna get a tattoo? I think that's awesome. I'd love to see the design.I personally think it's okay to feel jealous of another person's success. Just as long as you know and recognize it for what it is and can keep it in check so that it doesn't change you as a person. Those feelings are natural. You seem to have a great grasp of it and manage the ole green-eyed monster very well.I'm going to attempt a little bit of a pep talk here, and I will probably fail. But here goes:1) George R.R. Martin wrote that he didn't experience success until the third book of Song of Ice and Fire came out. He said that no one ever came to visit him at the conventions and that no one knew his name. Now he doesn't have enough time to see everyone. Joe Konrath also attributes his success to "luck". If someone is more successful than you, honestly Michelle, I think it's just luck. You can't control that.2) You're a great writer. I gave your book five stars in my review. Sure that matters little in the expanse of the ocean of books out there but does anything in life actually "matter"? I dunno.3) You have beauty. I know that may raise an eyebrow but it is pretty significant. If someone is selling better than you, you could always say, "Sure…your book may be doing great, but I'm pretty and there's no plastic surgeon in the world that could make you sizzle like this!"

Jordan McCollum

This reminds me of a post a couple years ago on Annette Lyon's blog. She talked about how she had a friend who wasn't blessed with children yet, though she really wanted them. The other friends in their group almost all had children, and as we tend to do, they often lamented their parenting problems.I don't remember if the childless friend said anything, but they knew she'd gladly put up with all the problems they were going through to have the children she wanted so much.Years later, she did have childrenβ€”and she complained just like every other mom. Does that make her ungrateful or short sighted? I don't think so. Every stage of our lives has different challengesβ€”or, often, different versions of the same challenge. Just because you're published, it doesn't mean you automatically have to be happy all the time. If you struggled with it before, I think it's natural to struggle with it afterward. Being published (having a baby, etc., etc.) doesn't change who you are.Keep trying, but don't stress yourself out too much for falling short. I think contentment is the struggle of a lifetime.

Angela Hartley

I believe we all have a purpose–a true calling in life per say, and when we are fulfilling our objective, we feel whole. In a sense, we become free from our expectations (our ego) because we are achieving something higher than ourselves. Writing is your calling, Michelle, and your emotions are the driving force behind creation. It is so important to feel all spectrum's and use your tender heart to express the beauty that lies there. If you lose your sensitivity then you lose the essence of who you are. You are made the way God intended and are therefore perfect, but I can tell you this until the end of time with little affect. I need YOU to believe my statement is true and no one else's value will matter <3

I'll get a tattoo if you get one.

Good luck, Michelle. Not only do you deserve to be happy, but you deserve to *let* yourself be happy. They're very different things. Your skills as a writer and success so far are wonderful, but they're not the end-all of your fabulous life with a loving husband and a beautiful daughter. Love beats out success any day.While I'm not sure how tongue-in-cheek you're being about the tattoo, it's not a bad idea. Believe it or not, I actually have that kind of tattoo. Following my penchant for yoga and meditation–neither of which I actually do with any frequency, but I know I would feel better if I did–I had a lotus flower and the Hindi character "Om" tattooed on my foot. Considering I would wear flipflops year round if I could manage, it's a great place (though I've never felt such searing pain and don't recommend it for a location). It's a constant reminder to find balance and peace in my life, even though I usually let stress run things. When I notice it, I can stop and think, "Man, I can't let that get to me." I've had it a little over a year, and I love it and would do it again (though maybe not on my foot).I'll be thinking about you. *hugs* And I agree with Liana. Maybe a little more chocolate, too?

Everyone has their good days and their worst days. What you need to keep in mind and never forget, is that no matter how hard things might seem, your a great PUBLISHED author. There are so many people who would love to be able to say the same thing. You are blessed. ps… you've also got chocolate. LOL

I guess I never thought about what it would be like to come down from the high of releasing a book. Thanks for sharing your trials with it here, and remember. We are here if you need to vent!And I LOVED Michael Offutt's number 3 in his advice. (Was also very glad I hadn't taken a sip of coffee before reading that!)You are lovely, and loved, and talented. Everything else will fall in place in time.

Amber Argyle, author

I made a decision a while ago: I would only post happy things on my blog/facebook/twitter etc because I wanted my image to be one of a happy person.Sometimes I had to really, really work to come up with something positive because I wasn't feeling it. But I noticed somethign. After a while, I was looking for things to be happy about and not noticing the unhappy stuff nearly as much. And my whole life changed. I've heard of other people talk about "The Secret". Now I KNOW instead of BELIEVE. So I'm challenging you. For one month, you can only say the good things. On you blog, facebook, twitter, and to regular people. See if it doesn't help you as much as it helped me.

Janet Johnson

I think we've all been there. Life is simply full of high's and lows, and unfortunately we simply tend to focus on those lows all too much. But I 100% agree with you that happiness is a choice!If only actually following that credo were as easy as writing it. But I'm fighting the good fight with you! Here's to being content (while always striving to improve)! (the two can go together, no?) πŸ˜€

Jake Henegan

Contentment comes with familiarity. You have to get used to things before you can find an equilibrium in the system.You can't accept things if they're constantly changing. So I think all the new things are jumping at you and you're not ready to react to them yet. You need to get used to the cold water before you can enjoy it, if you'll excuse my metaphor.And being published is certainly not a reason to abandon anxiety and related feelings. In fact, the more you publish, the more (I suspect) these feelings become.I think you just have to get through this until you reach your equilibrium.

I know how you feel, Michelle. I really do. I have been having a huge struggle since the release of my book was delayed. I know it's silly. It's only a couple of months. But despair hit me hard. And jealousy. Oh, yeah. I get that. It can be hard to change those thinking patterns. My secret is the Serenity Prayer. No lie. I recommend using it. And meaning it. If you don't know it, it's "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." I have to practice every day leaving my whole life, writing included, in God's hands. It sounds like it should be easy, but it's not. It's something to work at and I'm still working at it. Good luck! *hugs*

Will it help you if I say that you're where I want to be, publishing/writing-wise? I hope so. (If not, more chocolate!)The truth is that I think most, if not all, writers go through these spurts. Some of us struggle more than others. Life gets you down. We forget that we need to see the cup as half full instead of half empty. We start looking beyond ourselves at the successes and *perceived* happiness of others. We want it for ourselves. We begin to believe that our life stinks. It doesn't. I'm so happy to read your posts, Michelle-mope or otherwise. I know I'm not alone in my endeavors. You are absolutely correct when you say that our power comes from the ability to find contentment in what we do/will do/have done. The only person who can take it away is ourselves.Cheer up, Michelle. Eat more chocolate if you need to πŸ™‚ I'll give you a cyber hug and wish you a mood upswing. You're an awesome lady and I'm honored to know you.

Theresa Milstein

Your so good at articulating how hard this business is. There's no day where we've made it and all the work is done, so we coast. We doubt and are insecure no matter where we are in this business.Not comparing ourselves to others? Easier said than done. Bird by Bird had a good chapter about jealousy. Did you read it?

Hmm… I don't know if what I have to say is useful or not, but my response to that kind of thing is usually with a resolve to do better or be better than whomever it is I think is ahead of me. It's a competitive thing, and, therefore, possibly, a guy thing. I find it usually keeps me from wallowing, though.

Michelle Davidson Argyle

Liana: That's the point! I want to stop beating myself up, and I'm trying very hard. I will get there! πŸ™‚Tere: I think it's a hot chocolate morning, hehe. I know what you mean about being unable to write. It can be really paralyzing, but once we figure out how to conquer it, I think we become stronger for it. So that's a wonderful thing!Michael: You already know I like your comment, so thank you. Your pep talk was much needed and appreciated. πŸ™‚Jordan: Hehe, that's a perfect story. It's human nature to do so, isn't it? It happens, and it's nice to have friends who understand it completely. I definitely know I'm not supposed to be happy all the time. I just want to stop killing myself to the point where I can't even write. I'm getting there. I think I'm over the worst of my current struggles. More await me, I'm sure! But I'm happy to keep moving forward. Angela: Writing does seem to be my calling. In fact, I know it is, so that is a wonderful reminder, as is the rest of your beautiful comment. Thank you. πŸ™‚Anthony: Deal. πŸ™‚Rosie: Oh, that's so true about them being very different things. So, so true. I forget it all the time. We do have to give ourselves permission for so many things. Closing ourselves off doesn't help anything. Ever. That's so interesting about your tattoo! If I do get one, ever, it won't be on my foot. πŸ˜‰Sarita: You're right that many would change places with me, and that's a good thing to remember. πŸ™‚Mary: I never expected it, either! I'm happy to share my experiences. I just hope it's not too much whining, lol. I suppose I'm entitled. Thank you for your comment and compliments. You're so sweet. πŸ™‚Amber: Hehe, now that I know what you meant by this comment, all is well. We really have to keep positive more often than not, and it is a choice – which you are obviously making! It's a wonderful thing. πŸ™‚Janet: Yeah, my downfall is focusing on the lows, so my constant challenge in life is to focus more on the highs. It's a good journey!Jake: Oh, I love what you say about contentment coming with familiarity. That is…well, that is something I needed to realize! Your comment makes a lot of sense and helps me come to grips with how I'm feeling. Thank you for this, Jake. πŸ™‚Rick: Hmmm, I have seen that many times. I love it. πŸ™‚Angie: Aww, I'm so sorry to hear about the struggles you've been having, too. That hurts me to hear, but it is inevitable, I suppose. That prayer is beautiful and something I need to pick up and use daily! Leah: LOL, it doesn't help for you to say that because the grass always looks greener on the other side, but it never is, hehe. However, I will admit, I'd love to share my patch of grass with you, no matter what color it is. I hope you come over soon!I love your comment, so thank you. It is really nice to hear that my moping is not completely in vain. To see so many wonderful, supportive friends is really uplifting!Theresa: I've heard SO many good things about that book! It's definitely one I need to check out.Andrew: LOL, yes, you would fight to be better! A part of me desperately wants to, but the bigger part of me shrinks away and hides. Might be a female thing, but perhaps not.It's funny how we all deal with this stuff differently. πŸ™‚

N.M. Martinez

I am so late, but I've had the tab open forever wanting to say something meaningful. I think the best thing I can say is that I sooo understand. Venting is probably better than holding it in. Sometimes that means a post, sometimes it's just turning to a trusted friend and knowing you can speak honestly without having to worry you're being a downer.

Michelle Davidson Argyle

N.M.: No worries on being late! I'm always happy when you stop by. Venting, for me, especially in a public place, is usually therapeutic if I let it be. Seeing all the support I get always lifts my spirits. Trusted friends are an absolute must as well. πŸ™‚

"A book high, and let me tell you, when it ends. It ends."I've been trying for weeks to think of something insightful and encouraging. My apologies for still not knowing the best thing to say.This very real struggle is hard. Although 'hard' feels like one of those understatements of the year. I can only hope that the knowledge of how privileged I feel to know you as a person and be trusted with down sides as well as the good parts of life will hold some value and good feelings for you, too. *hug*

Andrew Leon

I've had this tagged to come back to for a while, now, but I haven't really been able to form an adequate response. I'm not really sure if it's a male/female thing, although I'm sure that's part of it. I mean, men -are- more competitive; studies have shown this. And I've experienced it. Men have less of an issue with conflict, too.I don't know… it's an interesting question.