Success only flourishes in perseverance -- ceaseless, restless perseverance.
--Baron Manfred Von Richtofen

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Doubt, Decisions, and Broken Dreams

Please forgive me for this long and painfully honest blog post. I have a personal policy of being only positive on the internet, but there are some things I need to get off my chest. Feelings I need to acknowledge so I can work through them. So please bear with me. (Or if you don't want to read it, that's fine too.)

Two years ago, my first novel was published. Hooray! I cried and jumped for joy. I celebrated, and I was right do so.

But...

My gradually that dream come true turned into a soul-crushing defeat. I won't go into all the reasons. Maybe my expectations were too high. I don't know. The fact of the matter is that I have no more hopes or dreams.* I can't bring myself to hope or to dream. It hurts too much.

I have spent months telling myself I shouldn't feel this way. I shouldn't be discouraged. I should persevere and be positive. And I really believe that. But the fact remains that my heart is broken. I am grieving and I need to allow myself to do so.

I am just beginning to realize that I want two different things.

I want to write books.

To be specific, I want to write the books that speak to my soul. I want to write books about my own people and my own worldview and everything I find exciting and wonderful.

I also want to sell books.

A story does not live until it is shared with someone else. I don't need to make a lot of money. I don't need to be a best seller. But I need something. I need enough to feel I am not just wasting my time. And right now, I don't have that.

You might think these two things are compatible, but in my case they are not.

I feel I must make a choice.

I can keep writing what I long to write and give up on the hope of selling many books or being profitable. 

Or

I can write different books that I know will sell better.

Or

I can retire.** (That sounds so much better than giving up, doesn't it.)

I have loads of reasons, both good and bad, for making any one of these decisions. I'm honestly not sure which way I will go. I do know one thing, though. Retiring is the only option if I can't find a way to hope and dream again. Believe me, I am trying. I am plodding forward without hope, in the hopes that hope will return. :)

*This pertains only to writing. I have many hopes and dreams in other aspects of my life that bring me great joy.

**For the record, I intend to finish the Defenders of the Covenant series. The last book is out with beta readers, so I will definitely carry that through to the end.

15 comments:

Donna K. Weaver said...

Oh, Angie! Everyone keeps telling me that sales increase once you have about five books out. You've barely broken the surface.

Hubby and I read and loved your book. You have a real talent and a wonderful imagination. You happen to love a niche market--on two levels.

I pray that you'll receive the guidance you need on this. I just hope you don't give up on yourself too soon.

Braden Bell said...

So, so, sorry you are in this dark place right now. I have been there too, and I agree with what Donna says. Sales seem to increase with quantity of books. I've heard that from many people more experienced than I. But mostly, I am sending you waves of empathy and virtual hugs and fists bumps. Sorry you are hurting.

Thom said...

I tried not writing for a while--a long while, but couldn't. I've yet to finish anything I would even dare try to put in front of people, so I can't say if I'll face the same obstacles or not. Even now there are long stretches where I wonder why I'm still trying to write. But I know, for now at least, I simply have to keep going. For me, and for my kids who need to see that dreams are worth working for. Maybe for now trying to publish isn't the right thing. Perhaps the audience you hope to find doesn't exist yet, but may soon. Or perhaps they're already there, but you haven't yet learned where to find them. Perseverance in the face of pain is sometimes a test, often noble, but sometimes just more pain. I hope you find the answer you can at least find peace with.

L.T. Elliot said...

I went through about two years of a similar hopelessness, of believing any sort of dream was unattainable. It was a dark, dark time for me. (It's a long story I won't bore you with.)

I truly believe moments like this are heavily influenced from outside forces, forces that don't want you to share your light with others because it DOES make such a difference. Yes, there are lots of factors to "success" but there is also opposition and resistance. And the quickest way to destroy your influence is to destroy your belief in yourself and the work you do.

No one person or one thing can take your pain from you (Okay, ONE person, who's kind of not a person) but light will come. It may be small and you may have to protect it with all your might, but light will come. The think you must know is that your little light kindles other little lights. And that matters.

I do have to agree with many others here who've said that book sales are increased with a greater backlist. That's something to think about at the very least.

It's okay to step back and shelter your heart. And choices--well, they sometimes feel very big and very final. In my experience, they're part of a chain of little choices and when we make those little ones with faith and put ourselves into His hands, they lead us to where we're meant to be.

For myself, I hope you don't retire. I believe you make a difference to your readers. And I KNOW you make a difference to me.

Angie said...

Thanks so much, you guys! I really need and appreciate your support. <3

T. M. Hunter said...

Quite a timely post...there have been several instances over the past few months where I've wanted to "retire" as well.

Although sales do go up a bit when you have more titles out, I wouldn't say that I have astronomical success with the multitude of titles I have. Much of my frustration comes because I have a feeling that I need more exposure, but I don't have the personality necessary to get that exposure in the ways that most of the "successful" authors do (such as Joe Konrath).

That said, it does help sometimes to go write something outside of your normal genre. I had a lot of fun writing my steampunk collaboration with Lyndon. Whether it will be successful is anyone's guess.

Angie said...

Hang in there, Todd. I get really frustrated with marketing too. I just started reading Escape, and I'm enjoying it. I sent it to my boys' Kindles too, and I think,they will like it. :)

Terry W. Ervin II said...

Angie, I hear where you're at and that you're struggling to find which direction to take while moving forward. I've been through a similar situation, and I say similar because no one's experiences are exactly the same.

Prayer, thought, input from family and friends and the right direction will become apparent. Hang in there.

Angie said...

Thank you, Terry!

bradrtorgersen said...

For self publishing and traditional publishing alike, it usually takes several books for any author to begin seeing both a marketing impact (gaining audience) and a sales impact (gaining revenue.) One or two or even three books are not enough. So I don't think you're quite at the point yet where you have to actually choose sales versus what you desire to write in your heart.

Probably, what you want to write in your heart will resonate with some kind of audience, somewhere. That audience simply doesn't know you exist yet. If you have even a smidgen of talent and some work ethic to boot, and if you can get half a dozen or so works into the public sphere, you might discover that you can make money *and* you have an audience that is on your wavelength, in terms of the kinds of stories you want to tell.

Good luck Angie!

Angie said...

Thanks so much, Brad. That makes me feel better.

Deena Campanile said...

Angie, I often don't start a series book unless the last book is out - unless it's Harry Potter or along those lines. I love my favorite authors, but I want to devour things, and I hate getting stuck in the middle with a year or more to wait for the next book. So I agree with all the folks saying to get some more stuff out there before giving up. Thanks also for your class on creating writing space at LTUE. You had a lot of good advice.

Angie said...

Thank you, Deena. I'm so glad you enjoyed the class. :)

Nichole Giles said...

You know, I think this is something that a lot of people must be suffering right now. I don't say that to diminish your suffering, but to assure you that you are not alone. Publishing is currently in a state of flux that leaves many of us floundering, leaves us heartbroken and unsure, and believing that we have to make one choice or another.

But you don't. You don't have to choose. I'm here to tell you that you CAN retire. And then, when you're ready, you CAN write what speaks to you. And at some point, maybe when it ceases to matter, you may also be able to make money on things you've written. Maybe not. Maybe our society will continue to expect to be entertained for free. But if you are writing for joy, maybe that won't matter so much anymore.

You do whatever you need in order to heal, because none of the choices you've mentioned are permanent. And it's okay. It's okay to be discouraged. It's okay to be uncertain. And it's totally okay to retire. You know why? Because I know that you are a writer at heart, and someday, when you've had a long enough break, a story will rear up and demand to be written. And Angie, you'll give in and you'll write it.

Hugs!

Angie said...

Thank you, Nichole. You are very wise. Can't wait to see you at Storymakers!