To start off the new year, we have a great new guest post by author Kevin Don Porter! Wonderful words for any author to live by!
I used to read writers’ blogs that discussed issues like: How to handle your unresponsive agent, or what to ask before signing a book contract. Or how to juggle a busy book tour while writing under a deadline, and I would think: I wish I had those problems. I wish that I was exhausted from a 10-city book tour and writing into the wee hours just to stay on schedule. I wish that I had those problems.
The kind that indicate you’ve reached a certain level of success. That you’re in demand.
While I still don’t have an agent, or a 10-city book tour for that matter, I am somewhat on the other end of that wish—having had my first novel, Missing, published through a traditional publisher. So now I guess I have my own set of “good problems.”
How will I follow-up the first book? Will it sell well enough to justify the publisher’s investment in a second? How do I navigate social media to continue to connect with readers and, at the same time, promote my novel without becoming a nuisance? How do I balance promotion with work on the next project?
These “good problems” became my new normal. My new status quo.
But a funny thing can happen if you let it. You begin to look around at other writers and their accomplishments and suddenly your “good problems” are no longer good enough. Their situations seem more ideal. More like where you want to be. Are supposed to be.
But while it’s great to have role models and other writers whom we aspire to be like, comparing your writing journey to those of other authors can become a slippery slope. One that can quickly change your personal journey from one of joy, appreciation, serendipity, and one-day-at-a-time spontaneous fun, to a miserable path of undue pressure and unrealistic expectations.
I don’t know about you, but—to put it plainly— I ain’t got time for that.
Life and the moments and chances we’re given are just too precious to spend peering over someone else’s shoulder, or looking over our own. And there’s no time to be preoccupied with someone else’s moves, saying to yourself, “Big Six Author does it like this, maybe I should too,” or “Big Six Author doesn’t do this, maybe I shouldn’t either.”
Newsflash: Your voice, your style, your way of being and doing is not meant to be some cheap imitation, but authentically and uniquely YOUR OWN.
So I learned to change my perspective. No, I haven’t lowered my expectations or my goals—not by a long shot. In fact I’m striving even harder. But I learned that my journey is specifically mine. Simply because my path may not take the route through Big Six publishers, TV interviews, and “Best Books” lists (right now) does not mean that I am off course.
It means that I am on MY course.
I am a writer and I’m in this for the long haul.
Now that’s not to say that I haven’t been successful—book club and reader reviews of Missing have been wonderful, and my awesome publisher just released book one of my new e-book suspense series OVER THE EDGE. I couldn’t be more thrilled.
What it does mean is that I define what success looks like to me.
And once you do that, you can settle into your writing journey with joy and relish every bump, twist, turn, high, low, and thrill crafted specifically just for YOU. You can have fun and enjoy the ride.
You only get to have a debut novel ONCE. You only get your very first 5-star review ONCE. So appreciate it and the journey that got you there, and the journey that lies ahead.
And wherever you are on your list of “good problems,” the very fact that you have problems of any kind means that you’re still in the game.
Kevin Don Porter is a CBS Local contributor and the author of OVER THE EDGE and MISSING—two mysteries available on Amazon.com. Visit his website at www.kevindonporter.com. Friend him on Facebook and Goodreads, and follow him on Twitter: @kevindonporter.