giving up

When Your Worst Fear Comes True

I’ve heard this a lot lately:

“What was your latest book again?”

If I Forget You.

“Oh, yeah! I remember now! That one sounded good!” Lowers eyes. “I haven’t read it yet.”

Not that I expect anyone in close proximity to read my books right away (or at all if they aren’t interested in them) because I seriously don’t, but I think I kind of cursed myself when I titled and based a book on forgetting stuff.

When I put out my novel IF I FORGET YOU, I had high hopes for it, but many great fears, as well … all of which have come true so far, and I’m pretty sure most of it is my own error. I made some pretty massively huge mistakes, the biggest one being that I didn’t market it one bit at all outside of announcing that it was published and out there. Why did I not market it? First of all, I was afraid for people to actually read it because the main character is a lot like me and I didn’t want to have to stumble upon reviews that tore it apart. Secondly, I think I released it too soon after OUT OF TUNE. Thirdly, I wanted to see if not marketing a book at all makes any sort of difference in sales. A big duh to that answer, right? It’s because I happen to know several authors who don’t market at all and their books sell just dandy. But they aren’t me, and they don’t write in a genre that doesn’t fit anywhere (i.e. clean new adult with no steamy erotic sex). At least I like to blame it on those two things, but who knows? Other people write clean new adult and do fine, but again, they aren’t me.

If I’ve learned anything in this business, it’s that there is no magical formula to selling books, and while there is a lot of luck involved in financial success, it’s also a matter of putting yourself in good situations to create that luck. It doesn’t just pop up out of nowhere (even thought it seems that way sometimes when you’re getting green with envy over another person’s success).

The thing is, folks, I’ve reached my worst fear: a novel I put out there completely 100% bombed on pretty much every level outside of the fact that I think it’s well-written, some people I highly respect who have read it say they loved it, and I’m proud of it. But a book failing the way this one has sales-wise, and after losing my publisher and feeling very alone this past year, I’ve felt at the bottom of the barrel emotionally, financially, etc. I’ve reached a point where I’ve spent way too much money on this publishing thing and dug myself too large a hole to climb out of with just selling books. So. Worst Fear Come True right there. I’ve had to attain a part-time job now that has nothing to do with writing, so now I have less time to write, and if I look at it with the bleak vision I usually look at everything (pessimist by nature here), I’d have a good mind to quit writing altogether.

Expectations are killer!

But I’m not going to quit. I’m still writing. I’ve shifted my goals, let go of some hefty dreams that have weighed me down over the past four years, and turned my eyes to different horizons. I don’t know if I’ll ever reach the goals I’ve set. I’m halfway through a novel I believe in wholeheartedly, and I’m not stupid enough to believe I’m a bad writer or anything, but when I look back on the path I’ve traveled, I wonder if I’d set out on it again if I were to start all over. At this point in time, I’m not sure I would because this is just a tad bit soul sucking and it’s hard not to ask WHY AM I PUTTING MYSELF THROUGH THIS?

But like a friend of mine told me the other day after she read a blog post about what writing and publishing is like, sometimes you’re simply in the middle of a mountain meadow and you have no idea where you are, no idea if you even have a peak to climb after the ones you already reached and fell from, no idea which direction to turn. But you have to keep wandering, even if it feels aimless. Because eventually you’ll make your way out of the meadow if you don’t sit down and give up. And eventually you’ll find another peak to climb and you’ll think you’ve reached the top, but in reality there’s just another peak to climb. The trick is you usually have to go down first, and cross more meadows, then climb that peak just to find another one. There is no final destination.

So, it seems I’m in a meadow right now. A rather large one. With no flowers. But hey, I’m still writing and that has to account for something. I’m in the process of beginning to market my failed book and my other books, and I’m planning on being involved in many authorly things next year, like, gasp! conferences. All of that means I’m wandering, not sitting stagnant. One day I’ve got to make it to a spot I can at least see another peak, right?

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in About Me, All Things Publishing, If I Forget You, 12 comments

Never Underestimate A 10-Year Idea …

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I’ve known Janci for several years. When I first met her, I had no idea she was a writer, and then when I was informed of the fact by other people around me, I was quite pleased. Not many people top the cool charts the way she does! Like me, Janci writes in several different genres, and what I’ve read of hers so far, I love. She and her husband both do what they love for careers — at home. They are an example to me of following your heart and dreams. Today, I’ve invited Janci here to my blog to talk about her new book, EVERYTHING’S FINE, and how it has stuck around for over 10 years. I know this feeling well, since THE BREAKAWAY was one such similar book for me. Read on! Janci has some great things to say here!

Janci Patterson writes fantasy, science fiction, and contemporary young adult novels. Her first book, CHASING THE SKIP, will be published by Henry Holt in 2012. Janci lives in Orem, Utah, with her husband, Drew Olds. When she’s not writing, she manages Drew’s painting business, and plays geek games of all kinds.

I wrote the first draft of Everything’s Fine in 2004, so this book was ten years in the making. The idea started with this line: “So I stole Haylee’s journal.  We might as well get that out in the open right now.”  As soon as I had that line, I knew it was the beginning of a book. I experimented with it. Why does Kira take Haylee’s journal? What is it that she’s trying to hide?

Across years worth of drafts, a few things stayed the same, but more changed. It got sent out on rounds of submission several times, and always I discovered afterward that the book still wasn’t quite working. Many times I thought about giving up on this book — about just declaring it a trunk novel and leaving it alone. But inevitably as soon as I decided that, I’d have an idea for how to make the book better, and I’d rewrite it again.

Because of its long road to publication, Everything’s Fine is my most re-written novel to date, and anyone who knows me knows I’m not shy about rewriting novels. I started over from scratch at least three times, and heavily revised it dozens of times over. To give you an idea, here are a few of the more recent changes:

  • If you’ve read the book, you know that every other chapter is an in-scene flashback from a different point in Kira and Haylee’s friendship. Those chapters didn’t even make it into the book until January, when I pulled the book out and rewrote it yet again, this time with the intent of sending it to my editor. I was having a hard time getting the reader to connect to Haylee, since she’s already dead when the book begins.  Alaya Dawn Johnson suggested that I take all the flashbacks out of the book and put them in scene, and it turned out to be just what the book needed. So grateful for that critique. Without it, I think the book might have hung out in limbo forever.
  • Kira is now an only child, but from the first draft in 2004 to the first draft that my editor read back in February, she had an older sister who came for Christmas with her college boyfriend. I loved Lainie and Derek. They had a lot of awesome scenes. But in the end, Lainie’s scenes were taking away from the space I had to develop Kira’s relationship with her mother, which was much more important to the arc. So out of the book they went.
  • For a long time, Kira’s secret was that she had an eating disorder. Then I read Laurie Halse Anderson’s Wintergirls, and realized I wasn’t doing any kind of justice to that concept. Then I had to give Kira a new secret … and I did, but you’ll have to read the book to find out what it is.

I almost gave up on this book dozens of times, but now that it’s finished, I’m so glad I didn’t. I was ready to abandon it, Kira’s voice was never ready to abandon me. I think this is a book that wanted to be written. Who was I to stand in its way? It makes me giddy to see it finally done, and in a form that other people are getting to read. Kira’s character took a long journey with me, and getting to share her story is the best of all possible endings.

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Kira thought she knew everything about her best friend, Haylee. But when Haylee commits suicide immediately after her first date with her longtime crush, Bradley Johansen, Kira is left with nothing but questions, and a gaping hole in her life where Haylee used to be. 

Kira is sure that the answers to her questions must be written in Haylee’s journal, but she’s not the only one searching for it. The more Kira learns about Haylee’s past, the more certain she is that other people grieving for Haylee are keeping secrets—especially Bradley, and Haylee’s attractive older cousin Nick. Kira is desperate to get to Haylee’s journal before anyone else finds it—to discover the truth about what happened to Haylee— 

And to hide the things that Haylee wrote down about her. 

From the author of CHASING THE SKIP comes EVERYTHING’S FINE, a new contemporary YA novel about secrets and loss, and the winner of the 2007 Utah Arts Council award for Best Young Adult Novel.

Add Everything’s Fine to your Goodreads shelf.

Purchase Everything’s Fine on Amazon

Find Janci on jancipatterson.comFacebook, and Twitter.

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in All Things Publishing, Guest Posts, Writing Process, 8 comments

The Day I Quit Writing

I remember the day I quit writing. It was the day I graduated college with my creative writing degree. A few weeks later I got married. My life completely changed, and in all honesty, I was so burned out from four years straight of school that I decided I was truly finished. I didn’t have any desire to write, any desire to read, any desire to do anything but move on with my life and figure other stuff out — like how to be married.

For the next five years, I wrote three mediocre poems and read one set of books (the Harry Potter series). FIVE YEARS. I really had given up. Completely. My lifelong dream of becoming a published novelist had been flushed down the toilet because the desire … it was gone. My muse? She’d packed up and left. But I did keep creating. I learned photography. I bought expensive camera equipment. I bought expensive software. I learned how to use it really well.

And get this. I was happy.

Yes, I was happy with not writing. I had a child. I had a husband. I was creating artistic things with my photography. I was fulfilled. I didn’t need writing to make me whole at that point in my life … and that was a valuable lesson, probably the most valuable lesson I will ever learn as a writer.

When my daughter was eight months old, we moved into a new place, and I realized that I had been in a bit of a rut the past few years. My photography didn’t seem “special” anymore. It wasn’t fulfilling me in the ways I needed. I started to look backwards at a time I had shoved far, far away — college, high school, days when the only thing that made me feel alive was writing. Since photography wasn’t fulfilling me anymore, I wondered if that old dream of mine might give me what I need …

I pulled up an old manuscript, one I’d shoved so far into the dark that I thought it could never possibly resurface. It was 30,000 words. It was the most horrible piece of fiction ever. A friend of mine read it and told me it had potential. It was like riding a bike all over again. It was painful and I fell over countless times, but eventually that desire to write came back full force. Like a freaking freight train barreling into my life. My poor husband. He’d never known me as a writer. He had no idea who this Crazy Obsessed Person was living in his house. She never slept. She kept talking about stories and girls being kidnapped. She made him read poorly written prose. My poor husband.

A friend of mine has been asking herself lately why she writes. She wonders why she tortures herself like this? My comment to her was to quit writing and find out, not that she should do that, of course, but it’s what I had to do. I quit. Completely. AND I WAS STILL HAPPY … (at that point in my life). But then I got to a point in my life where that happiness was waning. Right now I need to write, whether nobody reads my books when I put them out there or a lot of people read them when I put them out there. It doesn’t matter. I will share regardless of outcome. And I might get to a point in my life that I don’t need writing anymore. I have no idea. I can’t predict the future. But for now, writing fulfills me in ways no other creative endeavor can. The important thing to remember is that writing is not what makes me who I am. Who I am is what makes my writing.

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in About Me, Writing Process, 20 comments

Failure Can Make You Bulletproof

A good online friend of mine recently shared a TED talk with me. It’s a talk by Elizabeth Gilbert, whom I admire greatly because I’ve shared another talk of hers from a few years back that I continue to listen to several times a year. This new talk — Success, Failure, and the Drive to Keep Creating (see video below) — is even more meaningful to me than Elizabeth’s first. In light of some of my recent publishing failures, none of which I can tactfully talk about here in public, I desperately needed to hear the truth she tells.

I’ve often forgotten how to get back “home”, as Elizabeth calls it. She makes it clear that your “home” has to be that thing you love more than yourself.

That thing for me? Writing. More than anything else, writing transcends me in every way possible. When I go to that creative place, I am able to see myself and ultimately step beyond myself … and share that experience with others. Without writing to explore everything I am and believe in, I would be a very, very, very lost and lonely soul.

Failure has the ability to make you bulletproof. Despite hitting what I consider darn near close to rock bottom … and knowing I can hit it again even harder in the future … I’m still fiercely devoted to my writing, probably more now than I have ever been. And I’m not going to stop. I may fail in many ways, but never at writing. So how could I possibly quit and not consider that the biggest failure of all?

Elizabeth Gilbert was once an “unpublished diner waitress,” devastated by rejection letters. And yet, in the wake of the success of ‘Eat, Pray, Love,’ she found herself identifying strongly with her former self. With beautiful insight, Gilbert reflects on why success can be as disorienting as failure and offers a simple — though hard — way to carry on, regardless of outcomes.

click here for video if it does not appear

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in Think Positive, 9 comments

IWSG January 2014 — The Problem With the Advice, “Never Give Up”

Insecure Writer's Support Group BadgeI’ve been to a lot of book launches and signings in the past few years. Almost all of the authors who have spoken at these events have said one thing — Never give up! Their message is usually one of comfort and peace to the audience, which is bound to contain hopeful authors wishing they will one day be up there launching their own published book. They go home, their hearts filled with hope and a little bit of jealousy and a lot of motivation to just keep going. They think, If I keep going — if I never give up — I will get that. I will get exactly what I’m working for.

Unfortunately, that’s not how it usually works. At least, my little pessimistic brain and experiences have summed it all up as such. Never giving up will guarantee you exactly one thing every single time — experience — and sometimes nothing more.

If you  work hard enough, it’s not going to guarantee you an agent or a big publishing deal or a best seller. It’s not going to guarantee you a lot of money and happiness. Hell, it’s not even going to guarantee you an equal amount of what you put in. Especially if that’s the reason you’re never going to give up.

I’ve watched some of my author friends work their fingers to the bone, certain that if they hit the right formula with marketing or self publishing, or tried hard enough, they’d be a best seller — never to become a best seller with that book, or the next books after it. I’ve watched some friends query for years and years and years, finally get an agent, never sell a book with that agent, and then finally leave that agent only to start over again at the bitter beginning. Never giving up.

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Me and Sara B. Larson at her launch for her debut DEFY. Sara never gave up.

And I’ve watched myself start out on almost every endeavor, absolutely certain that this is the one project that will get me exactly what I want — and discover that the only tiny point of “major commercial success” I’ve found so far was on the book that I didn’t do anything for, the one I had very little faith in, the one I just gave to my publisher on a whim because it was sitting there. So I foolishly decide that if I have little faith in anything and repeat that process, maybe I’ll get lucky and see that kind of success again. Yeah, right.

The truth is, life isn’t fair. And it’s incessantly unpredictable. Hard work sometimes gets you nothing but experience and bloody knuckles and a whole lot of frustration. Some authors never sell more than a few copies of their books a month. Ever. No matter how hard they work at it, and it’s not because their writing sucks or they aren’t trying hard enough. They’re often the ones who never stop trying. Some authors don’t hardly try at all and they hit all the jackpots one after the other, making it look easy. And some authors work their butts off and do finally get exactly what they want. For a minute.

But most of us? Most of us are the ones who follow that advice and never give up and find one small success for every ten, twenty, thirty failures — and then forget about those small successes because they seem so freaking far apart. They lose their luster and brilliance, like so many gold coins gathered in a dark, dusty bag at the bottom of our pocket. I imagine that over the course of time, however, that we sometimes dump out those coins and realize that we have gained something, and it’s worth more than we realized. I imagine that no matter the outcome of our “not quitting”, the experience we gain is far greater than those pieces of gold. I imagine our friends’ pieces of gold often look brighter than our own, especially when compared to one another. I imagine, however, that it’s not the actual pieces of gold that sparkle, but the glasses we’re wearing that determine their brightness. And I imagine, going one step further, that it’s the “never giving up” that gives us better glasses to see with.

So the problem with the advice to “never give up” is that I think it so often implies that you’ll get exactly what you want if you follow it. But that’s almost always never true. What you do get is often a quite different version than what you imagined, filled with disappointment, but also satisfaction and some sweet, sweet happiness — usually enough to motivate you to tell others never to give up either.

Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! Posting is first Wednesday of every month. Click here for more info.

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in IWSG | Insecure Writer's Support Group, 30 comments

IWSG December 2013 — Sick and Tired of Thinking This Isn’t Worth It

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I stood on my porch and stared out at the snow, felt the dropping temperatures creep around me, saw the icy roads and the cars driving by way too fast, and I felt despair in the pit of my stomach and thought, Why am I doing any of this? Why am I making myself miserable over writing when so many other things in life make me miserable? Like snow and winter and cold. I might as well get rid of the things I have control over. Right? 

Right.

Except, then I read this lovely post from Cassie Mae about mediocre being extraordinary. At first I thought, gosh, if she thinks she’s mediocre, then what am I? She was wildly popular with one of her self published books, then she got an agent. She has published with small presses and big presses now, and she says she’s still mediocre. So if she’s mediocre and has done all that, then where does that put little tiny me, who now has no publisher anymore and has decided to just go at it on her own — small sales and all? Does that make me below mediocre or just mediocre right alongside Cassie? Who the heck knows. But as I stood and looked out at winter today, I finally realized none of it matters anyway, whether we believe we’re mediocre or not. In the end, it truly doesn’t freaking matter. I read this study awhile ago. 268 male Harvard undergraduates were tracked from classes 1938 – 1940, collecting data at regular intervals during their life for the next 75 years. The conclusion: Love really is all that matters. “A man could have a successful career, money and good physical health, but without supportive, loving relationships, he wouldn’t be happy (‘Happiness is only the cart; love is the horse.’).’

So why the heck am I so hung up on all these little things that will, yes, give me the cart, but not pull it? I should be more hung up on how happy I’m making my husband and my family than anything else. And honestly, I haven’t been doing that lately. I’ve been more worried about sales and publishing and writing and figuring out how to make this career work so we can pay off debt and … what? Not have debt anymore? What will that accomplish? Sure, it’s important to pay it off, but it’s not going to make us any happier than we are. There will always be something we’re working toward. Right now debt just happens to be it.

I’m sick and tired of thinking this isn’t worth it, that I need to be on top to make it worth it, that I need to reach such-and-such numbers to make it worth it, that if I don’t reach certain goals and milestones by such-and-such time, I’ll throw in the towel and call it quits. Whatever. I’m done. I want to write and whether I succeed or fail with the numbers, I’m going to do it anyway. It is worth it to me. I’ve become a better person because of it. I’m braver than I used to be, and I’m getting braver every step of the way. And that’s pretty dang awesome.

Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! Posting is first Wednesday of every month. Click here for more info.

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in IWSG | Insecure Writer's Support Group, 29 comments

IWSG November 2013 — Taking Really Hard Risks (and Not Backing Out of Them)

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I’ve come to accept the fact that I’m the slow tortoise with five boulders strapped to its back, limping up a mountain. I’m moving upwards, or at least sideways, which is something at least, but it’s slow and sometimes I look back and second guess my choice to pile on those boulders. That was a risk, and one I’m not sure will pay off in the long run even though everybody else with boulders on their back told me it would be worth it — and also that a lot of other people have told me the boulders are unnecessary and I would do better pouring my time, energy, and money into something more lucrative. If you ask some of my friends, they’ll tell you I’ve come awfully close to hurling off the boulders so I can head back down the mountain and live once again without such risks piled on top of me. No more writing. No more spending precious time and money on things that are never guaranteed to succeed according to the world’s measure of success. I mean, wouldn’t waitressing or a cashier job be more secure? It’s especially tempting to quit when little hares are bounding past me, giggling as they chomp away on cupcakes and talk about unicorns. I don’t know who these hares are, if they’re a figment of my imagination, or if they really do exist. In the end, it doesn’t matter. Maybe they are the ones who took more risks than me, or they’re simply luckier or more talented. What matters is remembering that even if I get rid of the boulders, I’ll still have to pay for them (with little or no reward since I’m not following through with them). So I might as well follow through, you know?

I’m a “once you start, you should finish” kind of tortoise.

And sometimes … sometimes when I’m trekking up the mountain, which I’m not even sure is a mountain more than a flat, wide field where no direction is wrong as long as you keep moving, I almost feel like I’m one of those hares bounding along. I’m pretty sure I’m delusional at that point.

Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! Posting is first Wednesday of every month. Click here for more info.

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in IWSG | Insecure Writer's Support Group, 24 comments

When Loved Ones Don’t Support — Or At Least Understand — Your Writing Career

“When are you going to get a real job?”

That is probably the harshest criticism any artist can ever get from anyone, especially people close to them — whether it comes with full understanding from the person asking, or it’s simply an honest, clueless question. I’ve seen it happen to several successful artists, writers, actors, and musicians in my life. I’ve felt it in my own life from strangers and loved ones alike. I’ve written before about friends and family not reading your work or when people love you and not your writing, but today I’m talking about something a little different — something that I’ve seen literally make some artists quit right in their tracks and do something else that they think will make others happier. In some ways, it’s the artist’s fault if they let others’ opinions pressure them to quit. After all, we are in charge of our own happiness and destinies, right?

I’ll be brutally honest and say right now that I’ve felt negative pressure for a long time now from the world in general, and not just because of my writing. I happened to marry an actor who has chosen to pursue a career in acting and combat choreography. He’s still in school and it’s taking a long time to get through. He has a day job that pays our bills, but he’s also actively pursuing his dream, and he’s not letting anything get in his way. In this way, my husband has been one of the most shining examples of happiness and sources of inspiration for me and my own choice to chase after a dream that many people simply don’t seem to understand. Why would we both choose to pursue artistic careers and limit our own comfort and happiness? That seems to be the question — phrased in so many unspoken ways — that we get asked on a consistent basis, whether people mean it negatively or not.

Why would we choose to limit our own comfort and happiness? Well, the simple answer is that we aren’t. When I married my husband and he decided, after some very trying experiences for both of us, to follow his dreams and do what he loves, I told him that I’d rather be poor and rent for the rest of our lives than see him follow any other career path that will make him regret leaving behind what he knows he was meant to do. Several years later, I decided to chase after my own artistic dream, and well, here we are. We’re both close to our mid-thirties and in a lot of debt. We don’t own a home. Sometimes we can’t buy groceries or shampoo or toilet paper, and sometimes I wonder how we’re going to make it every month, but we always seem to push through and move on. The most important thing is that we are happy with what we’re doing — and we haven’t given up.

I do have to admit that one of the hardest blows for me just happened recently when my publisher closed their doors and I was left with what felt like absolutely nothing. I had to start all over again, it felt like. Finally, though, I realized that I have more than I thought I did, and I’m now picking up the pieces around me and moving forward just as I was before. I may not sell as much as I did with a publisher, and I know for a fact that I’ll get even more of what feels like disapproval for my chosen career path, but the truth is, I’m doing exactly what I want to do. I’m a mother, which I happen to feel is the number one most important job in my life right now. Yes, more important than writing, obviously. My daughter is one of my top priorities, but guess what? We went to a parent teacher conference the other day, and her teacher said, “So your daughter tells me you’re a writer. I think that is fantastic.” A really great conversation about writing and teaching and my daughter’s own pursuits ensued. My heart melted. My daughter knows I am doing what I love to do. She sees that I am happy, and that makes her happy, and I hope one day she will have the courage to follow her own dreams no matter how difficult and impossible they may seem — because her parents did just that.

Many, many people in my life do support, appreciate, respect, and at least try to understand what both my husband and I are doing with our lives. For that, I am truly grateful. I figure that if someone doesn’t approve of what we’re doing, that is not our problem and we shouldn’t waste any time letting it affect us. So, I suppose next time I get the “when are you going to get a real job?” vibe from someone, I can make it quite clear that we’re perfectly happy where we are, and I hope they are too. If anything, I’ve learned to appreciate more people who are chasing after their dreams like we are. None of it is easy, and most of it takes a massive amount of patience to see any satisfying financial results. For some reason, the world seems to measure success with the amount of money you’re making, which I find very sad. It would be nice, yes, if my husband could quit his day job because he found financial success with his acting and stage combat/choreography. He does make money at it so far, and I make money at my writing, as well, but we don’t make enough to completely support us. Yet. One day, though, I believe we will — as long as we don’t give up.

“When are you going to get a real job?”

“When you stop reading books, watching movies and television, looking at art, going to plays, and listening to music.”

End of conversation.

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in About Me, All Things Publishing, Self-Publishing, Think Positive, 30 comments

What I Used to Care About

If you had asked me four years ago what was important to me in my publishing career, my list would have been very different from what it is now. Seeing my books in a bookstore was deeply important to me. Almost nothing else mattered, in all honesty. If my book was on a bookstore shelf, that meant I was important, respected, and seen. It meant I had “made it”, even though I’m not sure I knew what “made it” even meant. Back then, I had a very different vision of where I wanted my career to go and how it would change my life. It might be silly of me to talk about this now, only a few years later, but I’ve been through a lot in those few years. It wasn’t until my publisher closed their doors a few weeks ago that I fell flat on my butt and could see where I had been and … for the very first time … where I wanted to go. This clarity is a big deal. In fact, I can safely say it’s the biggest deal that has happened in my writing career so far, mainly because I believe it will positively influence everything from here on out.

The truth is, for a little while, I allowed myself to quit. I really was going to walk away from everything. I didn’t tell anybody this, but giving myself permission to make that choice opened up everything to me. When I got back up from that, I realized I’d either have to republish my books or shelve them once my rights were handed over, I knew there were some big decisions to make. So I made them. What has happened after that has been completely unexpected. I feel … happy. And not just a relieved sort of happy because I’ve made a decision, but really happy. Almost giddy. At first I wasn’t sure why. I thought it was because I would now have complete control over everything concerning my books. I also thought it might be because I had so many people supporting my decision, but even though all of that is wonderful, it’s not any of those things. It’s because out of nowhere, I suddenly don’t care about things that have plagued me for years. They are gone because it’s now clear what I want.

I used to stress about validation around every corner. I worried about my books getting into bookstores and libraries. I worried endlessly about whether or not I would be able to book a signing at a real bookstore. I used to fret about what all my friends thought about my publisher and whether or not I was respected and judged to be a good writer and person because of it. I used to die a little inside every time someone talked about their agent or announced a book deal and posted their Publishers Weekly announcement. I used to worry about what people would think of me if I told them I published my own books.

Now?

I care about telling stories, writing better every time I sit my butt down in my chair, producing quality books, and interacting with my fan base. That’s it. Everything else is just the little fringes on the outside of what really matters. Those other things can be important, sure, but there is no right way to publish, only what is right for you at the moment. I don’t care if I decide to publish my stories differently somewhere down the road. I just don’t care! The only thing that matters is that I’m happy with my writing. Everything else stems from that. I don’t know if I can explain how I feel now, but the best way I can explain it is that I’ve kicked down a wall and I can see the sky for the first time. I know there will always be storms down the road, but for now it’s a beautiful day.

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in All Things Publishing, Self-Publishing, Think Positive, 31 comments

IWSG September 2013 — Two Reasons Why I Haven’t Quit

Insecure Writer's Support Group BadgeMany of you might have read my post yesterday about my publisher closing their doors. I didn’t talk too much about my emotional turmoil over the whole thing, but I’m not sure it’s the greatest thing to dwell on, in all honesty. I’ve decided what I want to do, and the point of this post is to say that quitting is not in the decision I made.

Now, I’ll admit that quitting crossed my mind, but not for very long. When I considered throwing in the towel and never writing again, I ended up with two very strong reasons why I should not do such a thing. Yes, I boiled it down to two because sometimes when you’re freaking out, simplicity is the best medicine.

I Am Alive and Anything is Possible

This might sound a little cheesy, but it’s true. As long as I am a breathing, functional human being, anything is possible. I was listening to the radio yesterday about a football player who had to have his leg amputated. The man seriously didn’t give up. He said, I will be back on the field someday! I promise! And he totally did it. He got a prothetic and he’s back on the field playing professionally. He says it hurts every single damn second because the prosthetic grates against his bone, but his love for what he’s doing makes it so that it doesn’t matter.

That, you guys, is something to learn from. Sure, stuff hurts, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it, and as I told my seven-year-old daughter the other day, You can do hard things. She kept saying she only wanted to do easy things because they were easy, and I stopped and I thought about that. I thought, well, if you only stick with the easy crap, there sure isn’t much payoff, is there?

Even if I Haven’t Meant to, I’ve Made a Difference

My writing — this thing I do that causes pain and joy at the same time — really does make a difference in so many ways. Even if it’s just a difference to me. My publisher might close their doors, but I’m finding another way to share my stories. That way might fail at some point, and if it does, I’ll find another way. THIS IS NOT ABOUT HOW I AM PUBLISHED. THIS IS NOT ABOUT INSECURITY OR INADEQUACY, OR MONEY, OR WASTING TIME ON SOMETHING THAT DOESN’T MATTER. Because it has made a difference for good in my life, and I haven’t given up yet.

You never know what your example will inspire in someone else, what your words can do to change another, and where your motivation will lead.

As I told my husband when I was considering walking away from all of this — “If I quit writing, what else would I do that I love just as much? I would probably find something, sure, but then I’d probably want to quit that too because anything I love as much as this will require the same amount of effort, pain, and dedication. So why not this? Why. Not?”

Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! Posting is first Wednesday of every month. Click here for more info.

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in IWSG | Insecure Writer's Support Group, 39 comments