Writer.Chef.Romantic.

This isn’t a post for the people making a ton of money publishing

In Writer on December 7, 2016 at 10:33 am

This is a post for the rest of us. Like it or not, money is often equated with success, and success is often equated with happiness. But it just ain’t so.

So my Middle Kid had an early jazz band practice, and I was listening to Pentatonix sing Hallelujah on the way home. Go buy Hallelujah on iTunes right now. Right now. No, seriously. Or go listen to it on Youtube. I’ll put the link at the bottom. Anyone with an ounce of passion in them needs to hear them sing this tune. All that Catholic schooling aside, I haven’t been a practicing Christian in 20 years, so why does this song resonate with me so hard, even after I’ve listened to it, like, 1000 times since I bought it? (Rest in peace, Leonard Cohen. Your memory is certainly blessing me this year.)

Hallelujah resonates because of the passion, I think. It creates a connection. Between writer/singers and listeners. Between writer and readers. We know it when we hear it/see it. And it grabs us. Which led me to thinking about how hard it is to get that passion onto the page. Sometimes I wish I could physically rub what is in my heart onto the page because it is so much better than what is coming out of my fingers once it passes through my brain. My filter. My internal editor. I write mySELF, my VOICE, out of my words so often it’s become a habit. Gotta make ’em pretty. Gotta make ’em flow. Gotta connect my thoughts. And I’ve had great editors, but sometimes, they took a piece of me out of my work, too, and I let it happen because I didn’t trust mySELF enough to fight for me.

It probably had something to do with deadlines and my desire to pump out three books a year and be “successful.” I don’t have any deadlines now, but I fight the urge to give them to myself in order to be productive. My definition of productive is finishing the book. That’s also my definition of success. But I am fighting so damn hard to change both of those into making the book that lands on the page as rich and passionate as the book in my heart. And that is requiring SO MUCH MORE TIME and THOUGHT and EXPLORATION than I ever imagined. It’s hard to be okay with that when I spent years training myself to think that success=happiness=finishing the book=making money. (Which is why this isn’t a post for writers making big money. Money brings its own inspiration. It just does.)

Writers, I don’t know about you, but when #1k1hr/3 or more books a year/butt in chair/write full-time entered my world, I started feeling like I wasn’t getting anything done. And that feeling made me want to do even less.

Yes, I still want to finish the book, damn right I do (and I bet you do, too). And I want to write another book in the Hot Nights series. And I want to write a womens fic book just because. And feeling like shit isn’t going to get me there. Butt in chair ALL THE TIME isn’t going to get me there because my butt needs other stuff, too. Like yoga. And fruitcake, party mix, au gratin brussels sprouts, and caramels made by me. I need to read. And watch Sherlock. And hang out with my family.

SO.

Here are a few of MY new definitions of success, and I invite you add your own in the comments. Comments will automatically enter you in my Come Again Series Giveaway (GC to The Ripped Bodice or, um, my favorite sex toy, new in box OF COURSE).

  1. Write for one single hour OR cross a thing off the list of things that need to get done in the WIP. Progress is progress.
  2. Go to work and do a good job. Listen, some days, that’s all we can do. The day job pays the bills.
  3. Feel good. Make the mental adjustment required to reject negative judgement, within or without, and be fine with the work that is getting done and know that the rest of the work WILL get done. Eventually. It is perfectly okay to go around feeling good about yourself instead of apologizing, downplaying, or self-deprecating.

Be vulnerable. Be authentic. Own yourSELF. Do YOU. And practice believing you are worthy. Not just good enough but valuable. Give yourself permission to feel happy and successful simply because you are breathing and go about your day feeling good.

Writers, connect with the passion you have for yourself, so you can share it. Maybe even on the page. Reject the outside voices telling you your words should be different and write the words in your heart. That’s how you find the good stuff.

Believe it.

And…

Watch the Youtube video of Pentatonix singing HALLELUJAH!

And lest you think it's easy for me to cast off internalized judgements, this picture (taken at my daughter's bat mitzvah) nearly sent me shrieking for a dye bottle. But I'm still doing me. For now. LOL.

And lest you think it’s easy for me to cast off internalized judgements, this picture (taken at Middle Kid’s bat mitzvah) nearly sent me shrieking for a dye bottle. But I’m still doing me. For now. LOL.

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  1. Great post, Amanda! I found myself nodding along with everything you said. I have a post-it on my monitor that says “Remember the Joy”, because it’s so easy to lose that joy we found when we began writing!

    Off to listen to Pentatonix for the upteenth time.

  2. I love this post. For me, my big things are
    1) Figure out the “pay the bills” part. I started a side business, but I’m not sure it’s right for me, and it’s not really paying the bills. So I either need something else or I need to find a way for it to make money WITHOUT sucking my joy/energy.
    2) Get control of my day. (Which goes with the above.) No matter what I spend my time doing, I feel like I *should* be doing something else.
    3) Write every day. A page, ten pages, whatever I HAVE that day, but I want to get back to writing every day. I lost it somewhere along the way and I miss it.
    4) Shut off that voice in my head that is constantly telling me I’m “doing it wrong” regardless of what “it” is.

    • Those are really good ones, especially that last one. I swear we’re on the same page! It broke me for a while to go back to a regular day job, but it took SO MUCH pressure off. Because I blamed myself for not selling enough books…no, I blamed myself for the books not being good enough to sell a gazillion copies. 2 and 4 kind of go together, so do you know there are people on this earth who never question themselves and who have confidence and who laugh when they make mistakes? I often ponder how they do that because I want to learn how. It’s that mental adjustment I was talking about. I’m even doing it at work, where it is impossible to get enough done in a day, and I always feel like I should do more. I think to myself, “Seriously, woman? You’re really good at this, and you are giving it your best. It’s enough.” But I know it really doesn’t help at all for ME to tell you you’re doing it right. You have to make the mental tweak, over and over again, at least I do. But I’ll tell you anyway: you’re doing it right! ❤

  3. I love this post. You’ve got it totally right. I love writing, but I haven’t identified totally as a professional writer since I’ve taken it up late in my life. I spent most of my time being an editor. When my son went off to college, I went to culinary school. I loved being a caterer for a while, but the physicality of it made me slow down from daily to whenever strikes my fancy, doing small select parties to keep my hand in because I still love it. And then I wrote a book. Took me a while. Didn’t get published so I wrote another. That got published last year. But I still edit part time, cook part time and write when I can and I don’t think I’ve ever been happier. Just had a short story published in an anthology and my next book comes out in May. Haven’t worked on deadlines since I started. Meeting other writers has been wonderful as well. Every day is a new challenge whatever it is. Feeding the muse by feeding your passions is the way to go.

  4. Amanda, once more, you’ve touched my heart and made me laugh! Thank you so much for being *you*!

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