Sacrifice And The Writer
It might be the single hardest communication I’ve ever had to deliver, explaining to well-meaning people in my life that I’m on deadline, that my calendar is full, that my heart pounds a little bit harder in my chest as each new day draws me closer to the December release of my sequel, BONNER.
For starters, the novel isn’t yet complete. When you consider that I just published AVA ten weeks ago, my timeline for this second novel in the Priya series is aggressive.
And with good reason.
I believe this will be the penultimate year for e-book sales between December 25th and January 3rd. And I want to be ready for it. One novel doesn’t get the job done. The faster I build the depth of my e-shelf, the better my chances become for reaching one or more of my major publishing goals in the future.
Reaching these goals requires sacrifice. No if, ands, or buts about it.
Saying no to invitations, especially the week-long kind, from loved and adored family and friends is always tough. It’s harder still when I try to explain the work commitments of my job.
You see, I’m a writer and self-published author. It’s sort of a mysterious category—so I’m being told—and I’d like to take a few lines to expand on it.
I’m the person in my one-person office who has to figure out why the printer is literally mooing (oops, wrong brand of ink cartridge) and solve the mystery of the crop circle-like stains that appeared one day on the surface of my wooden desk (leaky tea cup).
Yes, it’s in my job description to spend hour after hour on the phone with the tech guys, trying to figure out, for example, why my blog data won’t transfer to Word Press. (Once, my mind was so tired by the end of a conversation, I had to nap after I hung up.)
I prep and load the tweets, a process that takes at least an hour a day, when done correctly. I research the industry news and developments, and read the blogs of as many friends and colleagues as I can fit into the schedule.
I’m also the one who writes the original blog posts for my one-person company, and am happy to report I have fifty-four new ones on their way to this very page. I develop the business and marketing plans, handle all research projects, and set up informational interviews with people who have something interesting to say on a subject related to my storylines.
Oh, and I write the Priya novels and Love + Family short stories, too.
And then there is the social media marketing aspect of my one-person office, a category second only to writing in its ability to suspend time as I know it.
My marketing budget, currently measured in sweat equity not dollars, has been seriously low on funds this summer. Since publishing my first novel on May 28th, I’ve made a conscious choice to temporarily transfer that category’s sweat equity to other areas of the business plan.
As an experienced businesswoman, I believe there are four constants in success: exploration, innovation, evolution, and sacrifice. I have learned not to stay too long in still waters.
Are there days when I would rather be standing at the edge of the ocean, or sipping wine at a café in another land, or gorging on my TBR pile?
And will I have those days? Yes, God-willing, once my one-person office earns its way a few rungs up the ladder. For now, what I have is a stack of deadlines and a pile of dreams.
Small business is a gutsy undertaking, and there is no safety net, which is why it is important to be certain that each step forward is a step on firm ground. But that’s not the only challenge. I found, during the writing of my first novel, I was susceptible to the “…but this is a special time” argument from family and friends when they wanted me to participate in an activity I’d already declined.
Ultimately, I extended my own writing deadlines to accommodate the wants of others. It was my choice, let me emphasize that fact, to put my writing second. Perhaps I gave in because, deep in my heart, I thought I’d never really finish a whole novel—much less publish it and sell copies.
Perhaps it’s because the discipline required to write a novel is on par with running a company, and I wasn’t ready to go all in. (I should know; I’ve done both.) But for the writer me, unlike the businesswoman me, there are no employees, clients, travels, meetings, offices, agents, vendors and HR challenges to point to as unspoken evidence of my heavy work load.
Running a business, especially one with employees, office space, and a national client list, requires making commitments to many people in many places. I’ve found that as a writer and novelist, my prospects for professional success are contained solely in the level of my commitment to myself.
It is something I find infinitely harder to do.
One day I sat down at my computer, and right there in the patch of universe between my eyes, my fingertips, and the computer screen, sat Ava Arden. The arrival of this character, only the first of many Priyas who would find their way into (out of?) my mind, changed my future. I knew immediately what had happened. I took one deep breath, one big leap, and ended up on an entirely new path.
To be honest, I didn’t really have a choice in the matter. When it happens to a person—and I hope artistic passion, in one form or another, finds us all at least once in this life—there isn’t a thing that can be done to stop the forward march of a story ready to be told.
For all of us, sacrifice has a purpose. And, for writers who blog, those posts leave a trail of the choices, good and bad, that they have faced in pursuit of a dream. The dream. It’s hard for me to believe, a year ago, I wrote my very first original blog post and officially took my first step on the path to self-publishing.
I sure would love to have publishing-style success on my horizon: book signings, with really long lines, scheduled across the country; television and magazine interviews; copies of my novels on the shelf at every store that sells books; a pack of wild fans tweeting their excitement when they find out that woman in line next to them at the grocery store—the one wearing yoga pants and a pony tail—wrote their favorite romantic thriller.
Well, what’s the point of having dreams if they’re not going to be BIG?
And what’s the point of having BIG dreams if you’re not willing to commit to them, to power them forward into the great unknown?
To work for them.
Later this August, I’ll be trading tan legs and sandy toes for a writing goal of 30,000 new words on a page—one that’s aching to be filled. Yes, I may miss out on crab feasts and card games and chasing waves, but I can tell you this: Bonner Danilov is about to have the time of her life.