One Step At A Time

“E.L. Doctorow once said that ‘writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.’ You don’t have to see where you’re going, you don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way.  You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you. This is right up there with the best advice about writing, or life, I have ever heard.” -Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

This morning I almost had an anxiety attack. If my son hadn’t been running around playing with his Lego creations, I probably would have gone on full overwhelm mode. Instead, I took a deep breath and reminded myself that whatever I was overwhelmed about wasn’t that big a deal. I could handle it.

But putting on my big girl panties wasn’t enough. I had to figure out where the overwhelm was coming from. There were a few sources:

  1. I had overcommitted myself when it came to my newsletter. I’d committed myself to more swaps than I wanted – swap, meaning I include another author’s book in my newsletter and she’d include mine in hers; we are not swapping email addresses with each other, which is against the law). Suddenly, I have over 10 links to include in my newsletter this month that are not related to my genre at all, and that includes the newsletter I sent out last week.
  2. My sequel, Loving Riley, is a mess, still.  The farther I get into the story that I thought was awesome, the more I realize that it’s not.  I packed two separate plots in the book that deal with identity, and I only have two weeks left to fix what’s broken before the editor gets the manuscript – and before the book gets published next month as it’s already on preorder.  My author friends tell me it’s just me being such a perfectionist – and maybe it is – but it certainly contributes to the overall feeling of dread I feel whenever I look at the calendar.
  3. My ads aren’t working as well as they used to.  Ever since I added my latest book to the Kindle Select Program which makes my book available for free to Kindle Unlimited subscribers, I’ve seen firsthand how thousands of pages read each day can contribute to one’s overall monthly revenue.  The numbers are just amazing if your book is getting the visibility in the Amazon store, but at the same time, the numbers can be disheartening when your book is not visible at all – or when your ads are no longer working at all.
  4. Because of #3, I’m a few hundred dollars behind on my goal this month.  But that’s just the way being your own business works. Sometimes you’re up and sometimes you’re down. And sometimes, the market just refuses to work with you.
  5. The reality of #3 and #4 emphasizes the importance of publishing more books if I want to keep doing this month after month.  Which means more pressure as #2 is stuck in revisions and any effort to write other books mean no attention given to the first book in the queue that’s on a tight deadline.
  6. My Dropbox folder is not syncing with the online account, which makes me very nervous as that means my work isn’t really backed up outside of my Macbook.  With new chapters for Loving Riley written last night, losing everything is a scary thought.

So there you have it.  The author sources of my near anxiety attack this morning.  The anxiety is still there but I hope I can harness that energy and channel it more positively, one step at a time.


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