Times are pretty rough out there. There’s a lot of scary stuff. I don’t know if there’s more scary stuff, or we just get to hear about instantaneously, 24/7. The problem with all that (aside from the obvious) is that we tend to lose sight of the great things in our own lives. We feel anxious and fearful and stressed to do something, anything, to feel more in control.
As writers we’re in control of a lot of things. We create people out of whole cloth. We put them through heaven or hell or alien planets, we make them look like we want, talk like we want, act like we want… We control every aspect, down to the last comma. As long as we’re in the creating phase, we are the end-all, be-all. But then comes the whole confusing mess of publishing, marketing, selling, and we either feel out of control of the process or completely unprepared for it. It can become consuming, checking rankings and sales figures and Twitter and Facebook (and Goodreads and LinkedIn and Triberr and Google+).
There are a lot of things in this business that you can’t control. Amazon changes its algorithms just when you feel like you have some kind of handle on how to use keywords. Barnes & Noble changes its publishing platform when you’ve just finished your formatting. Smashwords starts a new beta program. Apple is basically incomprehensible. Kobo is great, but no one seems to buy your books there. You get conflicting information on free or not free, pricing, free promos versus paid ones, cheap marketing versus expensive marketing. Change your cover? Your blurb? We’re always looking for the “secret” that will let us sell thousands of books like the last now-famous indie author who got a bazillion dollar advance.
I think we need to step back. As writers, we’re good at watching others and constructing stories. Let’s look at our own story for a while. Smell our own roses. Turn off our own smart phones. Take our own long walks with our own loved ones. Fiction is wonderful, but in order to thrive, regardless of our income or job situation or anything else, we need to learn to be content in our own reality. To be thankful. To be aware of our blessings. To laugh with our friends and family. Play games. Learn something new – and laugh at ourselves when we’re bad at it. We need to live.
Life is short. Times are hard. To risk a cliché, we need to remember to LIVE, LOVE, and LAUGH. Every day.