I’m finally, FINALLY done. With what, you ask? Well, not much, as it turns out, as there is still much to do. But on this “not much” hinges my whole career. I’m done self-publishing my first two novels, Love, Lies, and Hocus Pocus: Beginnings and Revelations. They are completely edited, formatted, and uploaded for pre-order on Amazon.
I have accomplished a massive undertaking: publishing two full-length books simultaneously of a quality that would make traditional publishers jealous. This is, in and of itself, an amazing accomplishment, and I know I need to take a moment to savor it (despite the workaholic, bat-shit crazy internal voice yelling at me to get back to work). A poll done in the US estimated that 80% of people say they “have a book in them.” Yet out of all those millions of people, only thousands ever actually publish a book.
Of course, this is only just the beginning. This is the first, tiny step in my career as an author. Now I have to launch them, market them, sell them, promote them, and, of course, write the next ones. Before I face all that, however, I want to share three profound lessons I’ve learned from this six month process that have changed how I see my life.
1. Needing help is not just human, it’s vital for a happy life.
Contrary to the mantra of modern society (be independent, you’re the only thing you need, strength is everything), admitting that you are, in fact, flawed, weak, and in great need of others’ help is the most freeing thing you’ll ever do. And I’m not just talking about knowing you need a “team” to get thing done (editor, formatter, PA, etc). I’m talking about knowing, deep down, that you would be nothing without your friends, family, coworkers, etc who pour their lives into you.
I, personally, am responsible for very little of everything I’ve accomplished. Acknowledging this does not devalue me, or my accomplishments. Rather it reminds me to be grateful for everything that I am, and everything that has been given to me. That gratefulness is what makes me smile every day. It’s what helps me overcome difficulties. It’s what sustains me when I’m afraid I can’t accomplish what I’ve set out to do. Knowing I’m not alone, that I don’t have to go at it alone is what makes my life worth living.
The biggest thing in my self-publishing journey that taught me this was my Kickstarter, which raised over $4300. I was afraid I wouldn’t even make it to $2750. But my friends and family stepped up, not just backing the project themselves, but actively bugging everyone else they knew to back me as well. Thinking about the support they showed still brings tears to my eyes. It gives me courage to be all I can be because I know they’ve got my back: to cheer me in my success, to encourage me in my failure, and to catch me when I fall.
2. Failure is whatever you treat it as. If you treat it like a gift, you’ll benefit. If you treat it like a curse, it will destroy you.
I’m a perfectionist. This is both a superpower and a curse. It gives me the motivation and eye for detail that helps me create great things. At the same time, it can be a crippling inhibitor when I or my projects don’t live up to my own perfectionist expectations.
I have failed spectacularly several times in my life. Not just the “oops, well that didn’t go well” kind of failure. More like the “well, sh**t, I just completely f**ked up my life” kind of failure. There have been times when I felt like I was the most worthless, broken, disgusting thing in the whole world, and that I could never recover from my mistakes. And yet. Ah, yes, AND YET. I did not give up. Not only did I not give up, I treated my failures as invaluable gifts to show me how to succeed next time. And the next, and the next. I am constantly learning from my mistakes. They make me a better person.
As a perfectionist, I expect everything I do to be without flaw, so my days are a constant cycle of trying, failing, learning from my failure, and doing better. It’s painful, but extremely useful. Now imagine where I would be if, the first time I failed, I decided I was a terrible person and gave up? Not writing this as a published author, that’s where.
3. Dreams can absolutely come true when you leave them up to planning, not to chance.
I dreamed a dream, I made a plan
Four years later, here I am
A published author writing tales
A warrior conquering life’s travails
Showing all that dreams come true
So you can go and do it too
There’s your bit of spontaneous poetry for the day (yes, I’m a poet as well as a fiction writer. I actually have a whole book of poetry I might be brave enough to publish some day. I may have to assassinate the perfectionist in me to do it though) The point is, you CAN achieve your dreams if you plan it right, work hard, and don’t give up. I actually wrote a whole series on it (read it here), and it is surreal to look back and see that, following my own advice, I achieved what I set out to do! Whatever you want to do, you can do it. Make a plan of attack, then get to work.
Thanks for reading. I hope knowing these life lessons I’ve learned helps you get to your dreams faster. If you think I’ve said anything useful, please share the post around! You never know who needs to hear it.
Do you have any success stories, or fail and try again experiences you’d like to share? I want to hear about them, so tell me in the comments below. Also, don’t forget to check out my list of events to see when/where you might catch me in person. I’d love to meet you!