Claiming It

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Before I read these two inspirational and thought-provoking posts by Kristen Lamb (here and here), I had been doing some serious thinking about my life as a writer and as a person. Or, more specifically, I had been doing a lot of thinking about how I’d abandoned my own writing in order to make everyone and everything else a priority.

If you’re a follower of this blog, you’ve probably read my previous posts about balance and prioritizing writing. As I’ve said before, balance is always going to be an issue. Not just for me, but for everyone. We’ve all got families, day jobs, animals, and other responsibilities that take up a great deal of time. There’s always an illness or a crisis or something to derail our plans or offset our goals. For me, major depression often steals my motivation and robs me of the ability to prioritize anything at all. Getting out of bed and taking care of the bare essentials is all I have the strength to do, and so writing is often shoved to the back burner. Depression is the reason I’m constantly having to reset my goals and re-prioritize, but it’s not the only thing standing in the way of achieving my dreams.

I think for most of us, the roadblocks to writing success are numerous. For me, there’s a fear of failure that keeps me from plunging full-force ahead into my writing career. There’s the sneaking suspicion I’m not really that great of a writer and that all my good ideas have already been spent. And when it comes to actually marketing and selling my book, there’s the fear that I’ll annoy my lovely Facebook friends and family by posting book links. Is it bragging to post about my new release? Is it annoying? Do I look silly and delusional when I’m plugging my self-published book? I mean, is it really a ‘real’ book if I published it myself?

With my last book release, I posted a buying link to my blog and to my Facebook Author page. I shot out a couple of Tweets. And thanks to a couple of good author friends, I appeared on a few blogs. That was it. That was my book launch. It took me over four years to get this book published, but I gave it zero priority. I didn’t post a single link on my personal Facebook account. You know, because I didn’t want to bother anyone or make anyone thing I was trying to sell them something. I’m quite certain I spent more time commenting on pictures of what my Facebook friends had for dinner than I spent in promoting my own book.

I’ve liked and shared and commented on my friends’ posts. Wouldn’t they want to do the same for me? I suppose they would if they knew about the book in the first place. But since I didn’t treat myself and my writing as a priority, my friends didn’t realize it is one. It’s likely that some of my friends think I’ve stop writing altogether. Or that they’ve forgotten it was ever part of my life.

At my day job, people don’t know about my writing. I’ve chosen not to share that aspect of my life. I suppose if they decided to cyber-stalk me, they’d discover my ‘secret,’ but up until now, I’ve chosen to keep my writing life separate from my ‘real’ life. And I think this deliberate attempt to keep my writing separate, and to classify it as less than my ‘real’ life is a huge part of the problem. Hiding my writing has become a habit. When a new acquaintance asks what I do for a living, I tell them about the day job. It’s rare that I mention my writing and after all this time, it feels awkward to talk about it with ‘real’ people in my ‘real’ life.

I don’t remember making a conscious decision to put my writing into the hobby category. In fact, I’m sure I never made a deliberate decision to do so. But when I stopped treating my writing like a career or a priority, guess what? It became a hobby, something I indulge in when I’m being selfish or frivolous with my time. Any money I’ve made has been integrated into the family budget instead of reinvested in my career. To this day, I don’t own a paperback copy of my most recent book, even though it is available in that format. In fact, I don’t own paperback copies of many of my books (though I plan to rectify that as soon as I’m finished with this post). On Facebook, I’ve seen post after post from authors buying entire cases of their new releases. And I didn’t buy a single copy to put on my own shelf.

And that is so very sad.

It’s sad that I’ve pushed my writing to the side and that I treat my dream like it’s something annoying or shameful. It’s sad that I only allow myself to write AFTER I’ve done everything else for everyone else, and that by the time I have an opportunity to write, I’m too tired to do so. It’s sad that I downplay my own accomplishments because I’m a self-published author and that I often feel inferior because of it. And it’s sad that I’m a full grown adult who still cares so much about what other people might think and feel about what I do with my own time.

But do you know what is really, really sad? That there are other people like me out there who are experiencing the same thing. Not just writers. Anyone who has a dream. Anyone who wants to leave their 9-to-5 job to pursue their passions. Anyone who is feeling unfulfilled in life but doesn’t believe they are entitled to wanting more. It’s so incredibly sad. Sure, we all have to do things we don’t want to do. It’s part of life and being an adult. But the fact that there are people out there who don’t give themselves permission to dream? Well, that just breaks my heart.

So, today I am claiming it. I am claiming my title as an Author. I am claiming my desire to make writing a career. I’m claiming my books and I’m claiming my writing time as sacred. I’m setting goals and making my writing a priority instead of an afterthought. And I’m claiming my right to celebrate my accomplishments too. I’m ready to take risks and make personal investments in my future.

What about you?


49 thoughts on “Claiming It

  1. Tricia, I am so glad that you are finally deciding to recognize this about yourself. You are an amazing talent and one of my favorite authors. When people ask for recommendations, you are the first name I think of. I tell you all the time that I am your fan girl, and I don’t just say it because I am your friend. Your books are moving, and empowering. They deliver good messages and great themes. You have a talent level that so many (myself included) wish they could have. I know that after the crazy mess you went through a couple of years ago, you were kind of down, but you know something? You pushed through. You published so many books on your own. You did it! You are an author in every sense, and don’t you forget it. You are the best Book Mama a girl could have. ❤ ❤ Write, girl, write!

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      1. Absolutely. Tricia, I don’t think I tell you enough how much I appreciate you. I mean really. You’ve motivated me through some pretty rough times. You’ve been a constant through a lot of hard times in my life and I am so grateful to call you my friend.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing, Susan. I can honestly say you’re one of the people who has inspired me to continue writing. Your blog has often been a lifeline. I hope you’ll be back on track with your writing soon. You have many stories to share and I can’t wait to read them.

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  2. Tricia! As always posts like this echo with me. I LOVE your writing, and will share/promote whenever I spot something coming up. Like you my “life” is so busy, with sometimes the effort of breathing and achieving the morning to night routine being all I can cope with for days, weeks and even sometimes months being all I can cope with. Please don’t put your writing into the hobby category, I look forward to it so much!

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    1. Thank you so much, Andrea. I know from following you on Facebook how busy you are and how you’ve struggled to find time to write. It’s such a challenge when you have a family and a demanding job. I want you to know I think you have amazing talent as a writer and I hope you’ll eventually find more time to do what you do best. Please keep writing!

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  3. Oh my gosh, this was such a moving post. I appreciate your honesty. I never realized how much you struggle with your “real” and “dream” lives. I went through–no–am going through the same thing. Even though I post about my books on social media and host launch parties, I, too, struggle with the thought that my success could be viewed as a nuisance to my online friends. Then I realize that anyone who would resent my success is not a friend worth having, in person or online. I think all of us indie authors need to let ourselves feel good about our work. We wrote a book, dang it, and that’s no small thing. I’d put it up there with graduating school, having babies, and getting married. And if those friends aren’t shy about celebrating why are we? You’re great! Keep pushing through. We’ll make it:)

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    1. I couldn’t have said it better, Kylie. Any ‘friend’ who resents our success is not a real friend. If we can support weight loss journeys, celebrate their successes, or like their pictures of meals, kids, and vacations, I’m sure our friends are happy to support our writing endeavors. Sharing our writing isn’t a sales pitch – it’s sharing part of our lives. Writing is part of our real life and we owe it to ourselves to embrace it. Thank you so much for your comment!

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  4. You just wrote my life. I suffer from a lifetime of chronic low self-esteem. Like you, I am pummeled on a daily basis with chronic depression that is complicated by an array of physical illnesses that hamper me. I keep quiet about my writing because I don’t feel adequate to assimilate with those whom I feel are more intellectual, better-educated, more worldly and, in my mind, somehow more deserving. I can never see myself as their equal. Even though I’ve written two sweet little books that have garnered me stunningly-beautiful unsolicited reviews, I hold back. I’ve won large highly-competitive university-sponsored competitions in poetry. My poetry has been published in awesome places by scholars of the craft. But, I keep quiet. I can’t roll with it the way I should. Like you, I don’t claim it. I might actually embarrass myself by drawing attention to this thing that I love so much. You’ve inspired me to try. Maybe I’ll stick my toe in the water and wade out with the big fish. I’ve been sitting here on the shore for way too long. Thank you.

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    1. Rebecca, you just described how I feel about being inadequate. Sometimes I worry that I don’t deserve the title of Author or that as a self-published author, I’m not as legit as those who are traditionally published with an agent and big publishing house. Part of me longs for validation and recognition, but a larger part of me hates the attention. Like you, I’m fearful of embarrassing myself or drawing attention to myself. I’m my own worst enemy and I’ve held myself back in so many ways. I finally decided I can’t keep sabotaging myself. It’s time to make a commitment to my writing and to myself.

      I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your comment. It helps to know I’m not the only person out there who feels the way I do. I hope you will wade out with the big fish. You have the talent. You owe it to yourself to do what you love to do. No more holding back!

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  5. The scary thing about this post is that I could have written it about myself. Talking about writing with people I didn’t grow up with or with non-writers scares the daylights out of me, but I’m facing that fear one person at a time.

    Keep writing, Tricia! You’re far too talented to quit. 🙂

    Now, if only I could finish my revisions…

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m on it! Surge is back, and nothing can stop me…Er, well, there are quite a few things that can delay me, but I will not be stopped (for long)! 😀

        In the meantime, keep showing us what you’ve got, because it’s fantastic! 🙂

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    1. Thank you for the generous offer, Better. You’re right – we’re all in this together. Please let me know if there is ever anything I can do to help promote you and your books on Authors to Watch.

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  6. You’re an amazing writer – and one of the main reasons I am saving up to replace my missing kindle (I haven’t gotten to read Abe yet – *cry*) and YES! You need to do more promotions – I did not even know you had a website until I ran into it at the end of one of the books – and those links you don’t want to share on Fb – I rely on people sharing those to know that there is an awesome new book I need to buy (at least send me a PM! LOL!) :p Plus, here’s the fascinating part, I post links in blogs, on FB, on twitter, all over and yet i still had no less than twenty (and maybe more) people who were surprised about the facebook party. People simply don’t see even a fraction of our posts anymore on FB. I initially had a hard time with the “annoying people” thing – they aren’t my friends because they want to see my links. Then one of my “friends” posted a pic – literally – of their baby’s first poo. My first thought was “how gross! I don’t want to see this!” and, though the baby was cute, I didn’t want to see 6,000 photos of the baby, and probably no one else did either (except grandparents and such) but at the same time no one said “this is annoying! don’t post this!” because everyone knew that the baby was a big part of her life – she was proud of her new baby, as she should be, and how is our writing any different? it is a part of our life, it is something we are proud of. Why shouldn’t we share it? (granted not 6,000 times a day LOL!) but I also learned from her that you have to post other things besides just the 6,000 baby pics – otherwise people start to tune you out and quit paying attention to your posts. which is where it goes back to that balance thing.

    “And it’s sad that I’m a full grown adult who still cares so much about what other people might think and feel about what I do with my own time.”

    YES!!! I’m having some computer issues, and today while I am waiting for them to be fixed I am supposed to be writing in my notebook – but I’m not. Because it is a better, more acceptable use of my time to comment on blogs via my phone (seriously??) in between laundry and cleaning than to sit down and write in a notebook because writing is “fun” and everyone knows fun only comes after all the work is done.. this is the mindset we’re stuck in. Because if we dare to have the “fun”/do the writing that makes us lazy bad people who earn “the look” from fellow women and even some men – you know, that look people have when they come to visit you and your house is a disaster and they know you’re not “working” full time at an out-of-the-hoe-job (the only kind that “really” counts) and they are trying to figure out exactly what you’re doing with your time (because everyone knows writing is as easy as waving a fairy wand and isn’t hard or time consuming) – and I have no idea how to overcome this. I’ve read a bazillion posts, I’ve said “I will change!” I have even tried, but then it goes right back to it – where writing is not “work” and making sure the floor is swept is more important — which really drives me nuts because I *used to* have no problem with ignoring the house to write if I wanted, or at telling hubby to cook his own dinner, or whatever else was necessary. I think it started to switch when I started making money on the book covers and put *that* first because the cash “now” was more important than the measly sales I’d make months later. Add to that being sick of always having a messy house and getting “the look” if someone came over (or the hours of “emergency cleaning” when the landlord was coming) and I don’t know… my priorities shifted and I can’t seem to shift them back.

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    1. further to this, I think it also comes down to money in a sense. I have no problem making time for marketing, saying “marketing is important” – I felt no guilt about doing the facebook party for a week – but the actual writing part is where I fall down because writing does not generate money in and of itself. There’s no instant benefit – if I write six pages I can’t pay the water bill tomorrow, or even next month with it, but if I do book covers, or even market and manage to shift enough books, then at the end of the month I can pay that water bill. And marketing is something people nod and say “Ah, yes, that’s time consuming” and so they are less likely to “look” at you badly. but writing – writing is a hobby that 70% of Americans play with to one extent or another. writing is not legitimate work. writing does not turn an immediate profit. Writing is fun and as an adult it’s time to grow up and do the “important” things that make money to reinvest in the house that then must be cleaned in order to show everyone how adult and responsible we really are… yeesh. There’s fodder for a psychiatrist!

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  7. I’m so glad you made the point about writing being “fun” and not “work.” For me, writing is both, but since there are months I made more money in one day at my day job than I earn for the whole month’s royalties, writing gets shoved into the “fun” category. It’s something to do AFTER all the “real” work is done. I work outside the home, but it’s part time, so in some people’s minds, there is no excuse for my house to be messy or for me to not make dinner.

    It’s all about the mindset. Creative work isn’t valued unless there is a direct correlation to the almighty dollar. Since I don’t see immediate gratification from writing (paycheck, folded clothes, clean kitchen, hot meal on the table), it gets shoved to the backburner time and time again. This isn’t the first time I’ve vowed to change my priorities, but I think the difference this time is that I am giving myself permission to own my writing. In the past, I vowed to prioritize writing time or invest a few dollars into marketing, but it didn’t stick because my mindset hadn’t really changed in regards to how I feel about who I am as a writer.

    I know my mindset won’t change overnight, but come hell or high water, I’m going to change that before I change anything else. I know from experience my resolutions won’t stick until I fix my mindset. We can’t force people to respect us as writers, but we can have respect for ourselves and set limits.

    Your house can wait. If anyone says anything or gives you the look, tell them you have fans (ME!!!) who are waiting for the next Amaranthine book!

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  8. Can relate to many aspects of this, Tricia, and judging by the comments, you have hit a nerve with many people. I’m glad you have come to such a big decision, and wish you all the best with your books and writing.

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  9. This piece resonates with me deeply… I, too, have no copies of my own books. I wonder why we didn’t think of that or why it wasn’t a first response as it is with so many other author friends. Mine are only available in ebook form now, no way to order copies and it became such a struggle for me to use the sites/apps required, I have made them both permanently free. Hopefully my next book launch and publishing will go differently. Wishing you all the best, Tricia, you are definitely a good writer, no doubt about that at all 🙂 ❤

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  10. What a wonderful post, Tricia. I can certainly relate to much of it – although my first book was the ‘book of my heart’ I did not promote it to FB friends and Twitter contacts nearly as much as I should have, and I’ve been so busy promoting fellow authors on my blog since(and I’m not at all sorry about this, I love doing it and leaving comments on other blogs, FB etc that it’s taken me five years – yes five years – to finish and get my third novel in the series competed and submitted. A lot of the delay was procrastination, simply because I didn’t feel the story would be good enough. I’m not going to stop supporting my fellow authors, but I am going to try not to spread myself so thinly, and recognise that if I want to succeed as a writer, I need to both write and promote myself more – and have faith in myself!

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    1. Hi Hywela. I’m so sorry I somehow missed this comment. Thank you for the offer and for being such a wonderful, supportive friend to authors. The balance between self-promotion and promoting others is something I’ve struggled with. It’s sometimes hard to juggle my promotional blog, my writing, my day job, etc. I’m glad you’ve made the decision to write more and to have faith in yourself. You are worth the investment.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. YES YES and YES. Claim the title of author proudly sweetie for an author and a great author you ARE!!! I loved this. I’m sorry to hear you struggle with the same self-doubt and lack of support that I’ve experienced, I so wish that my friends especially my talented friends like you could have a smoother creative path in life rather than experiencing all the pot-holes and obstacles. I love my friends and family dearly, but I also know that many of them have never read anything I’ve written. Hey ho…the path to artistic freedom is paved with many unusual pitfalls, but I’m so pleased that you’ve claimed that rightful title honey. Well done you!!! 😀

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