Remember how last month I told you how a meltdown had pushed me off the healthy living wagon in a massive way? Well, this month hasn’t been much better. I was of two minds to even mention it in this post – as my mother always says if you can’t say anything nice either talk about the weather or don’t say anything at all. Besides, from the outside it looks as though life is perfect.
So I was going to do the Pollyanna pretend thing, but then my
partners in crime co-hosts of this linky reminded me that it’s about being real, so real it is. More on why this month has been so challenging later, but in consequence, this is a longer wrap-up than normal.
I haven’t moved every day. I haven’t walked every morning. I have, however, still done my online strength sessions, but other than that…
I could blame the rain. It’s been another record-breaking month for rain here on the so-called Sunshine Coast. It’s rained on 21 of the 27 days so far this month and we’ve had 6 times the average rainfall for May – which is usually blue skies, mild days and picture-perfect. Already this year we’ve had over 1700mm – which is more than our average annual total. With it, we’ve also had unseasonably hot and humid days.
I could also blame a mid-month meltdown – more on that below. Whatever the reason, I didn’t move as much as I should.
Grant and I celebrated our 28th wedding anniversary and 33rd year together with a weekend in the Tweed Valley. Yes, it rained, but it was also very lovely.
I followed that up with a week in Hervey Bay with Sarah. While I was still day-jobbing as normal, I did get to catch up with my friend Debbish – always a highlight of a visit to the Bay.
Grant and @adventurespaniel came up the following weekend and we took a drive to Toogum, further up the coast, for lunch at a new to us (and dog-friendly) café, Goody’s.
Other than that I rarely ventured outside.
Now we come to the meltdown.
Several years and eight published books ago I decided that with the right team I could produce a quality novel and publish it myself. No one was going to tell me what I could and couldn’t write; the indie path was, therefore, for me. I wrote about the decision here.
Mostly though, every time I got a rejection – even if it was a “good” rejection – I would collapse into an absolute emotional wreck. Puddle on the ground emotional wreck in the way you collapse into an emotional wreck when you want something so badly and know in your bones that you can get there.
I desperately wanted to write – had so many stories to tell – but also realised that my mental health couldn’t deal with the way I handled rejection. Sure, it’s something that all authors have to deal with, but I decided I wouldn’t put myself through it anymore.
Although I’ve struggled with marketing and selling enough books, it’s (on the whole) a decision I’ve been happy with and heading into 2022 I saw no need to change that. My focus was, instead, on publishing two new books, writing another two and spending some more time mastering this marketing caper.
Then I wrote Philly Barker Investigates.
While I’m proud of everything I’ve published, Philly was the book I’d always wanted to write. At the same time, my regular cover designer announced she wasn’t going to be doing covers anymore and I thought maybe I should give pitching to a publisher one more shot. Maybe…
I sat down and chose three UK based publishers and crafted submissions, deciding to give myself two months for responses to come back and if they weren’t positive I’d release Philly myself – what did I have to lose?
Rationality flew out the window when the first rejection floated in one Tuesday night – the literary equivalent of it’s not you, it’s me. I melted down on the spot in the exact way I used to, as if my body had muscle memory of it. While I’ve learnt enough about the industry in the past 7 years not to take it personally, knowing that and knowing that are two very different states of mind.
I barely slept that night with the same “you’re just not good enough and you’ll never make it as an author so be grateful for your day job” running around in my head that I’d had all those years ago when I was first pitching. Any positive feedback I’d received over the years was discounted as “they were obviously just being nice and why did I allow myself to believe it” and every piece of well-meaning advice about needing to learn to enjoy the work that pays my bills and you’re too old to still believe in fairy tales was on replay in my brain. I ate all the carbs, drank all the wine, and indulged in a pity party for one. Then, of course, I felt even worse about myself – and beat myself up for that too.
Just as I’d decided enough was enough, I received an email from another of the publishers. While she felt that cosy crime wasn’t quite right for them (and a hard sell commercially unless you’re established or Richard Osman), she wanted to read Happy Ever After and Escape To Curlew Cottage. Despite my best intentions, my hopes rose again. This was, I thought, it.
But it wasn’t. Thankfully she got back to me within a week and said that while she loved my writing and enjoyed the books, heart-warming and “soft” women’s fiction is a hard sell commercially for them – unless you’re established. As rejections go it was a lovely one – and a sound one – yet that somehow made it worse.
Cue meltdown number two – even messier than number one. This time it felt like the end of a dream. All my old fears regarding rejection and failure and not being good enough were triggered and I wallowed in a decent fug for a week.
It was only when I finally spoke out loud about it that I began to see the cracks of light and the way back out. Surprise flowers arrived from a lovely friend and Instagram reminded me of that time seven years ago when we opened a bottle of Bolly to celebrate the launch of Baby, It’s You. Somewhere along the line I’d forgotten to celebrate publication day and the work I’d done.
That was when I sat down and thought clearly about what I needed to learn from all of this.
Did I still want to write? Yes – my end goal is still for it to replace my day job. While I realise that the majority of authors don’t ever make a living with their writing, I don’t see why I have to subscribe to that belief.
Do I want to keep pitching? For the sake of my mental health, no, I don’t. If it means I have to keep doing it myself, that’s what it means.
If that’s the case, what needs to change and what do I need to learn?
I’ve gone back to basics and started from scratch at the business level and am revisiting a Self-Publishing and Ads For Authors course I paid for and then skimmed through without doing the work. After completing the first module I’ve updated my author website, and attached a reader magnet to help build my mailing list. (You can claim your free book here.) Next up is a look at my social media and then a revamp of my author ads.
In between, I’ve completed the structural edit for It’s In The Stars, and sourced what I hope is my new cover designer – although we still have a way to go before nailing the cover of Philly Barker.
I’m finding my way out of the fug and, in other news, I think it might even have finally stopped raining. And this morning the Moon and Venus were sitting so prettily together in the night sky (you can sort of still see them in the pic below – taken after our walk but still before the sun was up). Things are looking up again.
On the Blogs
- A review of Sophie Hansen’s Around The Kitchen Table (and a recipe for Milo Cake)
- My 2nd Persuasion inspired bake – a cider cake
- A review of Kate Young’s The Little Library Cookbook – the perfect blend of books and cookbooks
- My first Pride and Prejudice inspired bake – Netherfield White Soup
And finally…a selfie.
My word of the year is, after all, me!
On the last Friday of each month (Southern Hemisphere), the co-hosts of What’s On Your Bookshelf hold a link up for readers to share their reflections and actions inspired by their Words of the Year (or goals/intentions for 2022). Sue, Deb, Donna and, of course, myself are looking forward to you joining us and sharing how you have focused on your WOTY during the previous month. The linky is below.