Step with CARE and great TACT.
And remember that life's a great BALANCING ACT."
~ Dr. Seuss
A bit over a year ago, I looked down at my feet, realized they were on the wrong path, and set out on an expedition to find my own kind of indie authorship. It was a vulnerable year, full of confessions, voyages, and creative experiments that I still don't fully understand. Having now taken a thorough tour of the brambles, I have opinions. (Note: I don't often have those, so this is worth writing down.)
What I Did, Why I Did it, and What I Learned:
- I removed the paywall on all of my material (wherever possible) to sort for myself whether cashflow had a negative impact on my creative mindset. By doing this, I've discovered that I may not be a very good capitalist. Disavowing money feels better than receiving it. Don't get me wrong, I have bills to pay and wolves at the door, but my gentler base nature is appeased in giving without expectation. It also feels defiant in a way that satisfies the sharper side of myself -- the punk rocker who responds to showering demands by stuffing flowers in her hair and telling detractors to suck it.*
|Full disclosure: Some weeks, the idea of facing even a single|
person was more than I could manage. On those days,
I found a public place to leave "orphaned" books,
where visiting kids might happen upon them.
- I promised to personally hand out every copy of the Sons of Masguard I had on hand. This turned out to be around 25 sets of the first two books. The goal was to physically face at least two new people each month, to push my agoraphobic arse out of its comfort zone. And I'm happy to say it had an effect. Peeking at the violence of the world from behind closed curtains, it's sometimes easy to forget that people are generally amazing. No one refused my fumbling attempts at gifting, and very few acted ungraciously. In instances where they did, it was usually a case of my own conversational ineptness getting in the way. Ask any anthropologist how people are inclined to react when offered something without conditions. They grow suspicious, and fast. Were I better at the whole "opening my mouth and making proper words come out" thing, I imagine the slightest explanation would have changed that. As it was, at least one encounter went down like this:**
"Thanks! I'll pass this along to my agent/editor/publisher."
"You're very welcome, but don't worry about passing it along unless you're anxious to get it out of your house. I'm not looking for an agent/editor/publisher."
"I'm really not big on leaving reviews..."
"That's okay, I'm not either."
"I'll buy your next book, I promise."
"Actually, if you want the next one, just let me know. I'll happily send you a copy."
"...Then what do you want?"
"...To give you a book?"
"I'm gonna slink away now."
"That's probably best for everyone."
If reincarnation is real and kind, it will bring me back as a butterfly who is never expected to carry conversation.
- I tried to find new ways of letting creativity breathe without restraint. My particular concoction of disorders often leaves me crippled under manic levels of creative energy. Trying to focus it into a single outlet was hindering my process rather than helping it, as I'd previously groomed myself to believe. It's a general truth among typical writers that you ought to focus on writing even when you aren't in a place for it, and I don't disagree when the matter is one of discipline. But by forcing my brain into a mindset for stringing sentences when it was firmly planted in an area better lent to music or art, I wasn't allowing my atypical self to form the kinds of mental pathways I need in order to write organically. The long and short of this: by doing other artsy things, the art of writing got easier. I'm launching a new website, where those who wish to pay me, can, and those who enjoy reading free have a guaranteed platform to continue doing so. I'm also 50,000 words into the final story draft of a book I wasn't sure my brain or body would ever allow me complete. This is probably still behind what most people would prefer, but to me it's progress and wonderful news.
I'm finding my own way.
Slowly, but surely - my feet growing stronger with every step.
Sometimes being a creative person in a business-minded culture means backlash from people who expect a quid pro quo and a bottom monetary line. Sometimes it means feeling rebuffed for reaching out with raw emotion, which can be an indescribably painful and poorly balanced side of creative living. It means being slapped with the dollars you are or are not making, or the impact you have or have not levied.
But I'm finding I'm okay with those things.
I'm okay with just... making stuff and knowing that my stuff sometimes makes people smile*** -- a feat I can't often accomplish face to face. People are usually confused by me and the way I communicate. People usually look the other way. People usually leave. But when I wrap my mania in an adventure and pour my sadness into a metaphor, people understand.
Art is -- and will forever be -- how I choose to speak.
Thank you for giving me someone to talk to.
|Gratitude and affection, people.|
Heart and soul.
By the by, did I mention I have one more set of books remaining? If you'd like them, leave a comment or hit me up on Twitter. I'll send them anywhere in the world. Gratefully, and without conditions.
"If it gets me nowhere, I'll go there proud." ~ Jim Croce (I've Got a Name)
*Hyperbolic, and whatnot. I'm a hippie, but a shower-loving one.
**If you're happening upon this post as a recipient of my flailing, please know that it was entirely on my head.
***No Giggity intended.