#MondayBlogs – Talking About My Book and Other Fears

Last Saturday, my husband and I planned on having a date night with just the two of us. With our busy schedules of my two jobs and his social work job, as well as with social events with family and friends, we’ve rarely had time to ourselves lately to enjoy each other’s company.

We must have been on the same wavelength because we’d both somewhat suggested it to each other to reserve that Saturday night for us. I’d been wanting to go to a new sandwich cafe in Elgin that I’d heard about called Blue Box Cafe, which you can guess is completely Doctor Who themed. They served coffee and tea and sandwiches with locally made products. They gave almond milk and soy milk options for their coffee, and for me, who’s lactose intolerant, that was ideal. They streamed Doctor Who episodes on two TVs in the backround. We’d watched the tale end of Cold Blood when we’d sat down to eat our sandwiches.

After dinner, we’d noticed that the place was filling up for a live podcast show. Since our plans did not include this, we intended to leave and I’d later look into what other geeky events they had going on some other time.

Before we left, Joe noticed all of the business cards and flyers by local businesses, freelancers, and artists on the window sill before leaving. He turned to me and said, “This would be a perfect place to leave your card with your book link on it! Do you have any?”

Immediately, I froze. I didn’t want to be a shameless promoter when I’d just found this sacred space – a place that I was still awed and nervous about because I didn’t want to screw up my image in front of the people that came here. I wanted to be withdrawn and observe first, work my way into this place and the atmosphere before I shamelessly promoted myself into a place that I hoped to make another local hangout.

I didn’t even look if I had any cards. I just told him I didn’t. I knew I was low on them, but I just fibbed a bit and was too scared to leave them. I wanted to leave them, but I froze. I felt almost dirty even considering it. I had just come to this place!

This is just something I’ve struggled with lately. Publishing a book is a new experience for me. For more than a decade I’ve “published” fanfiction all over the web and even in a couple of annual fanzines, but I have never really talked about them in real life. Fandom culture is so different to me than the indie writing world. There are so many “don’t do this” and “don’t do that” rules to proper marketing and etiquette in drawing interest for your book. I was afraid leaving a stack of cards for my book would make me one of those people that others felt was too audacious, too presumptuous that others would care about my book. I felt like a creep, almost, even considering putting my book cards there.

It’s silly, I know. My first book sales weren’t a crazy breakthrough like most people’s. I could have marketed it better. I could have talked about it more. I could have printed out more cards and left them everywhere I went.

I could still do that, but I’m skittish. I’m still dipping my toes intp the cold waters. Cautious.

My poor friends and friends of friends have to pretty much pull my arm to get me to talk about my book. The shocking thing is that if and when I DO talk about my book, people are always interested. Then I can’t shut up. People are always amazed I did such a thing. It makes me proud of myself and feel accomplished.

Yet I feel like I always have to keep myself in check. Don’t want to get a big head!

And yet, I always find out that it isn’t the end of the world when I talk about my book and no one is interested. People generally are. I can’t let this fear and hesitation continue to rule me. It’s something I have to work on, and I’m always searching for ways to improve myself when it comes to this task of just breaking through the wall I’ve built around myself and just TALK to people.

Perhaps soon I’ll get over it. I mean, I pretty much have to if I will continue to put out more books. Maybe I’ll even get to the point where I leave a stack of my book cards at my favorite coffee shop.

Cheers.

HK Rowe

#MondayBlogs – High Expectations of Self

To everyone that writes out there I want you to know that I have faith in you.

I may not know you, I may have never read your work, but if you love to write like I do, I feel a kinship with you, so therefore I have faith with you.

I understand some days really suck for writing. Some days you can’t look at a white screen without getting nauseous or anxious. You post a poem or a flash fiction on your blog or journal and you don’t get any likes or comments. The world seems quiet and you feel like no one is paying attention to you, no one gets you, and it’s the loneliest most awful feeling ever.

Some days you may even want to give up writing altogether.

I’m telling you now – don’t do this to yourself.

Keep writing, even if one person in the whole world reads it and appreciates it – keep writing. Keep writing so much that people can’t help but stumble upon your work. TALK about your writing to others. Talk about them to your loved ones, your friends, and strangers on the bus or train.

If you’re an introvert – well, try to have bursts of extraversion and TALK about your writing. SHARE it. Don’t give up.

But remember this – don’t have high expectations of others when it comes to your writing. Don’t expect everyone to love it, rave about it, and tell you that you’re the best writer they’ve ever encountered.

The only one you should have high expectations of is yourself. The writer in you needs to write like you need to breathe. The writer in you needs practice, as well as gain exposure to other groups of writers to learn basic writing formulas and structure, grammar, and critiques. You need to expose yourself to how others write and what they think of your writing in order to develop a sharp mind and a thick skin.

You need to have a high expectation of yourself because you believe in your writing,  you know you can work through the pain, grief, anxiety and self-loathing and someday become confident and strong so that criticism HELPS you, and flames and nastiness bounce off you like nothing.

If your feelings get hurt, learn to be the bigger person and move on. Learn to accept that not everyone is going to like your work. It isn’t personal. If it IS personal, then maybe it’s that person who has issues – not you, because you’re strong, you’re a rock star, and you write 1000 words every day, and read other books, and go to the local writing group on Wednesdays.

Do what you need to do to be the best writer you believe you are.

When you share your work with others, and you engage with other writers and readers, you form relationships. You need to be genuine and sane, and for gods’ sakes, open your mind to their writing and opinions. Writing is never a one-way street. You don’t fling your work out there like pasta on the wall and expect it to stick to everyone’s favor. Engage with your followers, writers, and readers and become a real person to them. Don’t expect too much out of them, but try to be receptive to what they like and do. Share and have opinions. Encourage others and engage with them at a real, personal level.

I say this because forming a one-sided relationship in life never works. It can’t all be about you and not anyone else. You have that thick skin now, so you can talk to others and not let small things bother you that you’ll turn into a drama llama and then block and flame them on your posts. Remember when I told you to be sane?

The only person you can disappoint is yourself, and that’s how it should be. If you disappoint others and it cripples your writing ability so much that you want to quit writing forever, I wonder if it’s really important to you.

How important is writing to you exactly? And how important are you to yourself?

Cheers,

H.K. Rowe

#MondayBlogs – Time Management and Other Failures

Last night I made a post around 9:30 in the evening. Ideally, I should have set that up last night and scheduled the post, and then it’d be done and I wouldn’t have to worry about it. You would think on a Sunday I could make one damn post!

Saturday night I had the misfortune of getting a migraine. I get them a lot, though lately they’ve been rarer. I was not lucky Saturday night. It hit me while I was at a friend’s party and it lasted into the morning. It really ruined my schedule, which really stresses me out. In a perfect world, we were supposed to come home from the party, I could make my post and schedule it for the morning, and then I could get a good night’s sleep so in the morning I could wake up early and go through all the things on my Sunday to-do list into the evening. It would have been great! I had everything planned…

*sigh*

Unfortunately, my anxiety and migraines don’t care about my plans. My social life, my career, the dogs, and all those pesky last minute favors I do for others don’t care about my writing schedule. The weeks begin to melt away and once again my drafts go untouched. It’s been daunting trying to find time to write.

I read a ton of articles and blogs telling me I’d just be successful if I’d set aside DAILY  writing time. How cool would that be? If only my days were that consistent. Maybe I do four to five days a week? Maybe I do three? Maybe I wake up super early (not the time of the day really enjoy writing fyi) and write 300 words! Maybe I write at the same time of the day as Famous Writer A! Then I’d be successful.

I work two jobs. I take care of two needy dogs and a frazzled husband (he’s a social worker, ’nuff said). I take care of myself sometimes, you know – exercise, eating, hygiene. Occasionally I write. (I don’t even want to go into my drawing and art muscles – poor things.)

Perhaps this article is a tad bit cynical. Maybe I’m just whining. And I’m sure people have tons of advice. The challenge to find writing time is working with my own crazy schedule. How do I schedule a moment of peace within a tornado of chaos? Maybe I scale back some of my busy social and work things! Maybe… Well maybe I just learn to say no to others so I can say yes to myself.

I’d be happy to hear anyone else’s woes on how they have no writing time. I’d like to know if you solved your problem and if you found some balance in your own chaos. I can’t figure out myself yet. I can’t just write whenever I have the time! I need structure, and so far that’s been the one thing that’s been holding me back.

Cheers,

© HK Rowe