I haven’t written any full-length original material in almost three months. Thankfully, my modest little blog has been doing all right living off of re-blogs of my sweet sister’s Let’s Get Published posts. The post about fellow Writers’ Mastermind member, Sarah, has been gaining popularity lately. Thank you all for blessing it with Likes. Can’t wait until her book is available on Amazon!
Last thing I wrote about was trying a bunch of flavored coffees. There’s more of those coffee adventures to blog about. Such as trying spicy taco coffee, jalapeño coconut coffee, coffee that’s deliberately left to rot a little, before it’s roasted, coffee that tastes like lemony tea, and so on. But as for now, I’m going to be writing about the humbling reality of being a writer.
After the first version of HECCTROSSIPY book 1 The Legend of the Land was released in October of 2020, I felt like a real author. Whenever people asked me what I do, I proudly told them, “I’m an author.”, and made it sound like it was what I did for a living. I was more than happy to explain about my YA sci fi & fantasy series as a way of proudly promoting it. Then after an extensively longer-than-planned blogging hiatus, and some disappointing realizations about my level of capability, I humbly surrender to the fact that I’m a writer and not really an author.
Writing books is what I’m good at. I LOVE what I do, and I’ll write them until the end of my time, but I absolutely suck at turning what I do into a professional career as an author.
Pursuing and then maintaining a writing career is like an amazing circus act, juggling writing books, marketing your books, staying consistent on social media, staying consistent with writing your author newsletter, and remembering to regularly change up your author website to keep it interesting. Then there’s those other recommended writerly tasks to help get your name more out there, like blog tours, becoming a guest on pod casts, and writing stories to submit them to magazines and contests. I know some people who are pros at this. Being a mighty task juggling author who can also put out a few books a year is second nature to them because they could do it all, while also juggling their busy, active lives outside of their writing careers. It’s only human nature to envy such talent when I don’t have it, but more power to them. How are they so freaking super?! I can’t imagine myself being able to do what they do, without becoming a sluggish, brain-dead zombi who’s on the verge of dying of exhaustion by 7:00 PM every night.
I have such a raging case of synesthesia, it feels very much like a neurological disability. The only way I could be productive and get things done is to solely focus on doing one task at a time, and keeping my daily agenda extremely simple, all while avoiding as much outside stimulation as possible. The more things I’m involved with, the more my mingled sensory perception gets stimulated, which sends my thoughts and imaginings flying off the handle. This makes my sense of focus and concentration frustratingly brittle, and slows my productivity wwwaaayyy down. If I had a regular day job, a husband and kids and such, I wouldn’t even bother with writing. So the production demanding, multi media demanding juggling act of an author is not for unitaskers like me.
A lot of authors have a hard time with marketing their book. So do I, but my problem is that I’m blind, and the art of good marketing is visual, visual, visual. Through the years of reading blog posts on blogging and book marketing tips, and studying writing courses, it’s been thoroughly drilled into my head that authors need to keep their websites colorful and catching to the eye. Blog posts should include pictures, different font colors, and other eye catching effects to draw attention. Even social media posts should include images like giffs and funny memes to add personality to your posts when building up your author brand, and the list of visually effective tips goes on. I thought that was bad enough. Then one day, I read a newsletter from an author I follow, and she pretty much said that everything I’d been taught about how to market my books is irrelevant. According to her, promoting your books by doing videos on Tick Tock is the way of book marketing, but not videos of you just talking about your book. Her article talked about making tick-Tock videos with catchy graphics and special effects and that sort of stuff. She even included a link to another author’s Tick-Tock video that went viral, and catapulted her book into becoming a best seller, after it had spent three years unknown by the public. Reading that newsletter, I couldn’t help thinking, “Boy, am I screwed.” The book business was not designed with the blind in mind. (Ha, ha, that sounded Dr. Sues-ish.)
Along with my “I’m an author.” confidence, back in 2020, I felt even more confident when I actually managed to get the knack of a juggling act. I wasn’t exactly making my presence shine on social media, while writing newsletters and short story submissions while cranking out a new novel every few months, but it was enough of a juggling act to feel proud of. I spent the first week of every month just writing blog posts that were released every weekend. Weekdays for the rest of the three weeks were reserved for working on my second book, and all weekends were for interacting on all my social media outlets. However, this juggling act didn’t last. It was slowing down my WIP to a tedious drag, to the point where writing book 2 felt tedious and not so enjoyable. The one week of blog writing, three weeks of book writing, one week of blog writing, three weeks of book writing had kind of a herky-jerky, stop/start/stop/start/stop/start effect on my brain which made it harder to stay focussed.
So I tried a different way of juggling, assuming that maybe taking a week off of novel writing duty every month was too big of a time gap. I ditched the week day/weekend block schedule, and tried doing a day solely focussed on writing, a day solely focussed on social media, a day solely focussed on writing, a day solely focussed on social media, and so on, without it mattering what day of the week it was. After enough writing days added up to completing another chapter, I spent the following writing day composing and publishing a blog post. The blog posts became much less consistent, but consistent enough for me to still feel on top of things. I really liked this way of task juggling. It made each day fullfillingly busy and productive, and it made the social media experience more of a fun indulgence, instead of an annoying, author platform building obligation.
Unfortunately, it didn’t take long to realize that this way of juggling was slowing down my WIP even more, which I didn’t think could be possible since I dedicated a whole day, every other day to it. Increasing my time on social media was the culprit. Dedicating every other day to it machine gunned my brain and neurology with imagined mental movie news clips of information, the colors and tactile vibes of people’s live journaling, the elaborate zoo of colorful creatures made of the names of people and places, book titles, and word prompts, and other trippy things that get conjured up in my isolated world that send my imagination and ruminating thoughts tiradeing like catastrophic weather. This was far more of a disruption to my focus and concentration than when I just spent weekends hanging out on social media, and it greatly impaired my ability to transcribe what was going on in the hHecctrossipy 2 mental movie into the right words. Trying to finish my book was getting as tedious as trying to shuffle across the United States with my legs bound together. (sigh) So I had to change my juggling act, yet again. I didn’t know my brain would be that stubborn about not liking to be lead in multiple directions.
Throughout the next several months after my debut novel was published, I would go on to changing my author’s juggling act a few more times. My brain may be stubborn, but so am I, and I didn’t want to back down. I also got involved with other things an author should get into, like beta reading total strangers’ books and joining a couple other writing groups. Maybe all this changing things around was making my blogging and time on social media even less consistent, but I felt that at least I was putting myself out there.
Meanwhile, man, was I having the hardest time getting my second novel written. I kept re-writing chapters, and revising the book from the beginning, but no matter how much I tweaked and toiled, something just felt lacking. I know this sounds schizophrenic, but I can taste my writing. When It’s just right, it has a salty, fattening, stimulating taste that kind of reminds me of a flavorful salty snack, or a canned food that’s a guilty pleasure. My WIP had a taste that kind of reminded me of bland cereal and plain scrambled eggs with no salt.
Then an aspiring author who I had been beta reading for was more than happy to return the favor. His hectic life only would allow him to beta read my book one chapter at a time, like how I had been beta reading his. This was fine with me because I was only a little over halfway done with the novel. I had been having the hardest time getting past a certain point of events in the story. I gave the first chapter its fiftieth or so revision, before sending it to him. This inspired me to read all that I had finished as a whole, to see how it sounded when it all came together as a novel.
I was horrified over how many boring parts it had. There were all-over-the-place dialogues that seemed to drag on for miles, over-explanations of possibilities to solving mysteries, and parts of telling that sounded more like dull rambling. Ugh! Blah, blah, blehhh! I was worried that I lost my edge and my feel for planet Velva Leena. It sounded like a book written by a person who was either bored with her story, or who wasn’t completely sure where it was going, or who was more concerned about bulking up her daily word count. All of those things were true.
After more than half a year went by since my first novel came out into the world, and after more than a whole year went by since I started working on the second installment, I decided to drop the juggling act all together, and devote a majority of my time, focus, and concentration to righting all the wrongs of book 2, and finishing the dam thing, once and for all. I worked on book 2 with nothing else on the daily agenda aside from meal times, shower time, bed time, the twice-a-week conference calls with the Mastermind group, the occasional short chapter to beta read, and weekend visits with nannie at her nursing home. I didn’t even make time for getting some exercise.
Once I solely focussed on book 2, the struggle ended miraculously! It was amazing. Without social media and writing blog posts to worry about, I was able to get fully submerged into the story. The characters became more alive than ever, and the situations they go through felt like I was living through them too. I was able to really feel the story, and fell devotedly in love with it. I woke up every morning in a positive mood, because I looked forward to another long day spent being one with the joys, pains, and adventures of Artheena, Mell May, Leeandro Paul, and the rest of the cast of characters who live on a planet that’s hundreds of light years away, but feels like a second home to me. Best of all, the right words to transcribe the mental movie came out more cooperatively, and I was getting chapter after chapter done at a much faster pace. Book 2 was tasting better each day. I realized that putting working on my book in a time slot among other mind and sensory stimulating authors’ to-dos had a detrimental effect on my writing. It reminded me of when I wrote the very first rough draft of Hecctrossipy, back in 2017. Sure, it wasn’t nearly as good as today’s version, but I finished a full length novel in six or seven months. During those months, I didn’t blog or write anything else, and was hardly ever on Facebook.
HECCTROSSIPY book 2 The Will of the Dark Creator is much closer to being ready to be sent to my editor. The story part is complete, at least, but I’m still working on the Appendix. My beta reader had bought the first book and read it. While beta reading the first sixteen chapters of book 2, he admitted to enjoying it more than book 1. Yeah, must be that salty snack/canned food effect. However, as happy as getting a good book completed makes me, doing what works for me won’t do shit for making book sales. It’s a catch 22 situation. I can’t make any book sales if I don’t put enough time and energy into marketing my book, and working on building up my author platform. But I wouldn’t be selling books either, if I don’t put enough time and energy into writing books and perfecting them to the fullest. I especially wouldn’t be selling any books if I took nearly forever to craft a bland-cereal-and-unsalted-scrambled-eggs novel.
Maybe it’s inspirational, maybe it’s sad, but I still hang on to the hope that I could someday master the juggling act, like other authors. Of course I still want to build an author brand. As for now, I choose just mastering the act of writing novels. The professional part isn’t there, and it might not be for quite some time, but that’s all right. As long as I have my dark cave of a room to write in, loud enough white noise or brown noise to tune out distractions, a functional computer, enough money saved up to pay my editor, a vivid imagination, and no husband, kids, or day job to tend to, it’s all good. Being a writer is my true life purpose.
With three more books to come out with, in the Hecctrossipy series, and its spin-off trilogy, Dark Admiration, Artheena and company have a lot more places to go, people to meet, and life challenges to overcome. So do the characters among the many other books in my ever extending backlist.
I’ll try my luck at getting my series out there, by going to those sites where authors meet up to read one another’s books and exchange book reviews. Reading books is not that overstimulating. I’ll also try my luck at finding a reasonably priced virtual assistant I could dump the visual, visual, visual marketing workload on, and who’s not uncomfortable about working with a blind person who has less than amazing computer skills. When the second book comes out, I want to do another give-away promotion, like I did in April. So people could download The Legend of the Land for free, and get all caught up on what went on before they buy a copy of The Will of the Dark Creator. Two fat novels for the price of one. Hmmmm, or maybe I’ll do a promotion where, for a whole week, if you buy the second book, you get the first book for free. Is that a little bribe-ish?
I had recently re-released HECCTROSSIPY book 1 The Legend of the Land as a second edition. It’s the exact same story, but the bulk of facts about planet Velva Leena—which was once the Introduction—had been moved to the back of the book and became part of the Appendix. It’s a well-known fact that people just don’t like info dumps, no matter how interesting or vividly imaginative they may be. And it’s practically a writing tabu to begin your book with an info dump. I feel more optimistic now, that this change will help the first book win readers over, and get them into the series. Then who knows, maybe it could lead to more book sales. As for this moment in my non-career, I’m building my author platform with prayers for a miraculous strike of good luck.
After toiling over this blog post for a good part of the past three days, it’s time for this unitasker to end it, and go back to writing book 2’s Appendix, and finish the dam thing ONCE AND FOR ALL.
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