Once again my run turned into an introspective drama. As the day passed into night, the sky spoke to me while I made my through a prairie roiled by relentless wind. I take that back; spoke is too kind a word. Chastised is closer to the truth… berated might be better still.
I have felt out of sorts for the last couple of days and I have avoided trying to pinpoint why. Good things have been happening in my life; a happy new baby in the house, my health on an upswing and a book published. Even the not-so-good things have had silver linings. Since the birth of my fifth grandchild, my daughter faced a health issue that has allowed me to play a contributing role in our household. I’ve felt needed after a year during which, as a wanna-be writer that wasn’t producing an income, I often didn’t.
I’m certain that my wife and daughter thought I was absorbed in reading books that I had received for Christmas. “Claiming Ground” and “The Hunger Games” I’ve just finished and I’m well into”The Passage”. They are captivating stories, which has helped keep me from facing the cause of a mild depression that is, inexcusably, lying just below the surface of my cheerful facade. The cause for said depression was also close to the surface — easy to reach if I only made the effort. Hence the reason I’ve been burying myself in the pages of one book after another.
But nature and my sub-conscious conspired this evening to force my hand.
Swirls of turbulent gray skittered across the sky, driven by a steadily increasing wind. High above me, an angry presence loomed - the tops of many of the clouds were painted a fierce red by a sun that was already beyond the western mountains. From the very start of my run, it was as though nature itself was disturbed by and reflected my inner turmoil.
As I followed the narrow trail between rustling stalks of dried switchgrass and needle-and-thread, dodging the gust-driven tumble weeds, I felt buffeted by more than the wind. I was forced to admit the cause of my unsettled state, and that is doubt.
That every author has to face this insidious, tenacious creature doesn’t make it any easier for me. Right now it isn’t doubt about my writing ability, although I worry that will come hand-in-hand with the first negative review. What I doubt is my stamina and commitment for staying the course, for being willing to take my lumps and forge on. The promising early sales have ended and my naive hopes that “Harvest of the Heart” would take off and that sales would become self-sustaining have been dashed. Lots of hard marketing work remains that I, as a self-published author, will need to do myself if I want to succeed.
But I am eager to write, not sell. If I have to personally seek out and make every sale, I don’t know that I can do it. It is a little depressing that I’m feeling this way already. A lot of Indie authors would probably be overjoyed with the positive reviews and over eighty books sold in two weeks. But the truth is, I’m scared that, once my physical launch is over on January 12, that sales will fade away to nothing. How brave they are, the writers that absorb this type of disappointment for years, but stay the course and achieve ultimate success.
I’m not going to quit, I know that much; but I’m mad at myself for letting this doubt take the wind out of my sails; for zapping some of the energy that is needed to talk to bookstore owners and to keep working the social media in the hopes that sales will follow. I’ve been trying to wean myself from checking my sales statistics; I know I should ignore them since looking at them won’t change them… only marketing will do that.
Of course I am using running and this blog as a cheap substitute for a therapist. Running helps me think things through and writing it out helps me to work it out. I’ve set goals, and planned steps to reach them. Here is where I need to act as my own coach and say to myself, “Stop being such a wuss! Get out there and fight for your dreams!”