On Christmas Day, my sister-in-law told me that I was the happiest she’d seen me in a very long time.
“You’re finally doing what you were meant to do,” she said as she reminded me that this time last year, we had talked about how I was going to start publishing my work for 2015. And while I did the usual, aw, thank you, I’m still working on it, and I’ve got a long way to go stuff (a habit I have to quit doing because such attitude diminishes all the angst and hard work I’ve put in my writing and publishing journey), I had to admit, she was right.
Because a year ago, I hadn’t yet taken that big leap of faith into self-publishing – at least psychologically. Sure, I went through the motions of clicking that Publish button and all that, but in my mind, I hadn’t yet embraced the idea that I was an author – a self-published author. I still held on to some guilt and some shame and whatever else that probably plague many self-published authors when they start. I just didn’t believe in myself.
But what a difference a year makes.
I no longer hold onto that burning shame that I held onto for being a “self-published author” versus a traditionally pubbed one. I smile when someone callously jokes at the holiday party, “so how many of your 5-star reviews are from relatives?” (Answer: NONE) or when people ask me why I’m not traditionally published or have a literary agent (though if you’d like to represent me, I’m open to the possibilities).
I’m an author, and that’s what matters.
As a writer, a lot of people don’t realize just how much courage it takes to put words out there, whether one is trad or self-pubbed. It actually feels worse for self-pubbed authors like me when it’s put out there for free (free writing/reading platforms or free downloads) – especially when you have NO idea whether anyone will connect with your characters or your stories, or worse, wonder if they got their money’s worth paying for your book when they could have gotten themselves a Venti Starbucks Latte instead.
Still, what a difference a year makes – and I wouldn’t trade 2015 with its highs and lows for anything else.
Because, in the end, independent authors like me write because as creative souls, we have no choice. We take risks and make tough decisions with our writing, from the art (process) to the product (book). We give away more for free than we receive – something we’re sometimes expected to keep doing just to keep ourselves current and relevant.
Still, we do it because we have to. We do it to feed the muse that lives in our hearts and our souls. We do it to allow for that endless flow of creativity that nourishes us and gives us reason to wake up every morning – and because we fear that one day it will stop flowing because we chose to ignore it.
Liz Madrid writes chick lit and romance, though if you ask her, she thinks that most of her stories deal with self-identity more than anything.
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