Being a writer is really hard. I’m not talking about the discipline it takes to write a decent story or the hours of wrestling with character or storyline. It’s the always being open for rejection. Critique groups, even the best, ultimately are about telling you what you could do better. Publishers and submissions…that’s guaranteed to be a load of rejection before you find the right one. Even self-publishing is replete with rejection opportunity.
Practical Herbalist Press published my first book, Herbaliism for the Zombie Apocalypse. My partners and I think it’s a pretty good read, but the sales are slow. Sure, it’s only been on the market for a couple of weeks, and we’re really a micro-publishing house. Sales will eventually add up..if I can only figure out how to really market our titles well.
There’s the feeling of rejection right there. How do I get the word out? How do I find my audience? I don’t entirely know. Marketing is magical, whether it works or not. It’s the magic that’s not working that feels so much like rejection. Even authors who have the backing of experienced editors and publishers face that kind of rejection. I know that.
So, my job is to get over that feeling, figure out how to market, and stay positive even if the present doesn’t look all that positive. It’s hard work. There’s a pretty big element of self-deception; that part isn’t so hard. I’m surprisingly good at self-deception, actually. Learning comes easily, usually. It’s the distance from my own feelings that’s really tough. Getting around them is like making my way through a Marine-training obstacle course. Blindfolded. Carrying a weight…with my big, black dog pulling on the end of his leash. If only I could see the course ahead, I could probably figure out how to get to the other end without too much injury or mishap.
What I really need is a compass to point me in the right direction so I don’t need to use my emotions and feelings to help me navigate this publishing-marketing course. Emotions generally serve me well in that respect, but in the place where my creativity shines out into the world I’ve got far too much scar tissue for them to guide me. I freeze and despair that every step is carrying me right back into the heart of rejection again. I expect that’s pretty common among artists and writers. Even if it isn’t, it’s part of my story.
I have a compass I was compelled to buy years ago. It’s in my Magic Trunk. Tonight, before Lakshmi sets out to grace all the lights of the world with her gift of prosperity, I plan to find that compass. I’m going to create an altar of lights in honor of Diwali, the celebration of Lakshmi’s journey. I’m going to place my compass amidst the devotions and pray that the Goddess graces me with the magic I need to find my audience and my success in writing.