I’ve made some changes. And while, yes, I did decide on this momentous upheaval of “how things are going” late last year, it really has nothing to do with the whole New Year thing. But it does feel sort of like that.
Anyway, most people out there will tell you that if you want to be “successful” you need to brand yourself. Pick a lane, they say, and stay on it. Find your niche and remain laser focused.
For example, let’s say you like to write cowboy romances. Great! That’s your lane. Write the best cowboy romances you can, and keep writing them. Write them in series, too, because people love that. And maybe, once you’ve got three dozen cowboy romances under your belt and you’re a bestselling romance author (at least in the cowboy section) you can write something a little different.
See…I can’t even offer up a good example of how to succeed without going off the rails.
No! You write cowboy romances damnit and that’s your lane. Stay in the lane if you want to succeed.
There’s a reason I chose Wayward Cat for my imprint. Somewhere in my sad and lonely childhood, I decided I wasn’t going to take this crap anymore. Nobody was going to tell me what to do. And here I am, an old woman, trying to force myself to do things I don’t necessarily* want to do.
I’ve written fourteen novels and one nonfiction book. I didn’t stay in my lane. I wrote the stories that were in my head, and I stand by that strategy. I couldn’t have done it any other way. I’m just not wired to stay in one lane.
I’ve also created four puzzle books so far, with one more on deck and lots to come. I’ve created three journals with one more almost finished. And looking at my output lately, some might think I’m just throwing stuff at the wall hoping something will stick, but that’s not it. Not at all.
I was fine writing fiction until I happened upon journals, which led me to puzzle books. I do them because I love to do them.
But, sure, I’d also love to be more successful. Who wouldn’t?
It’s not like I haven’t sold any books. Online sales trickle in. And I had a very successful weekend at the Miami Book Fair last year. My books do win awards when I bother to enter contests. But I don’t sell a lot of books regularly and I guess that was how I was measuring success.
The thing is, no matter what people tell you, no matter what you do, you might not succeed.
Everyone out there telling you how to succeed–Just keep submitting to corporate publishers or agents! Persistence is the key! Stay in one lane! Write to market!–is either suffering from survivor’s bias or spouting what the survivors have told them because they do believe in fairies, they do believe in fairies, they do, they do, they do believe in fairies.
Well, I don’t.
So, I’ve decided to give up.
Hold your panties, there, I’m not giving up on writing. In fact, from your perspective, I’ll bet nothing is going to change at all.
What I’m giving up on is the nagging and the guilt and the frustration–all of these things are coming from inside of my own head and I’m sick of them. If I don’t feel like writing fiction, I’m not going to do it. That’s all there is to it. But lucky for me, I do often feel like it, so I’ll probably produce the same amount as usual. I’m just not going to beat myself up for sewing instead.
I sort of remind myself of Andy Bernard, the Nard Dog, on The Office. When he left Dunder Mifflin, he wasn’t pursuing a singing career. No, any method of becoming rich and famous would suit him.
And that’s me. I made a list of all the things I want to do–the things that make me happy. I’m over sixty now and I’m allowed to be happy. So here it is: Writing, Puzzle Books, Sewing, Photography, Cooking, Online Classes, & Crocheting/Knitting.
Those are the things I like to do. And I’m not going to push any of them aside anymore trying to make myself a successful author. I’m just going to be me. I’m the brand. Again, this really is nothing new when I think about it. It’s just a recognition of the fact. And I made a chart to keep track of my progress on all of my projects.
So that’s what I wanted to tell you.
I made a chart!
How about you? Have you any plans or resolutions? I hope they’re as epic, or as minute, or as nonexistent as you want them to be.