What being an Author feels like
This last month has been a whirlwind. My fourth novel, IT HAD TO BE YOU, released May 15th. I'm proud of this book. I started writing the novel May 2015 and somehow it ended up published through an amazing publishing company, Entangled, May 2017. Two years of hard work wrapped up into 63,000 words.
So many people have wished me heartfelt congratulations, and I've received each one as a treasure. But, as always, I want to be honest with those out there who are not authors. Going through release is not a fun or joyful process. Which sucks, because it should be! But there's something about the years of work cummilating into something you can hold in your palm that leaves you feeling... well, just about every feeling you've ever known.
Tears of thankfulness for the opportunity of being published but at times tears of the reality of how things landed versus how you hoped they go. Disappointment rings out the soul like a wet, mildewed towel. And guess what? It has nothing to do with how well the book sells.
Years of hard work poured into a novel and then it flies out into the world and you can't do anything to protect it or prove it's value beyond the work you've done. It's like jumping off a cliff, trusting that you'll be caught before you hit the rocks, but then you make impact and you lie there, assessing your wounds. At first you are shocked and numb, but then the pain sets in. You breathe deeply as you work fast to set your broken bones so they don't heal warped. You crawl around until you find a sturdy stick to make a cane and then you dig deep into your soul and haul your ass of the ground.
To go where? To do what? Well, climb back up that cliff of course. It takes another year to reach the top and although you dread it, you know once you reach the top you'll jump again, not because you are crazy but because you are a creator, an attribute of himself that God gave you, and you need to honor Him with sharing another novel from your heart.
Man, just typing that exhausted me.
Here's the thing, I really feel like my dream of being an author and all these beautiful characters and stories in my soul are there for a reason. Even though it hurts, I'm meant to share them with the world.
I've learned to be thankful that God makes being an author hard. Every year the bar for my definition of hard work raises. It's a grueling but beautiful process. Peeling back layers of your own identity and pouring it into characters while refining yourself so you can grow, allowing yourself to write your next book while not pulling out your hair as you spend a year crafting a novel that some people won't even look at because they think the cover is too yellow.
How silly. How vain.
But it's so true in the business. And ridiculous. Purely ridiculous.
Then there's the social media aspect of being an author that has a way of tearing you down like nothing I've ever experience before. "Be present! Have groups! You need 10,000 instagram followers to even make a dent in sales. Post 4 times a day to Facebook, 3 times a day to Instagram, 4 snaps, and don't forget about 8 good tweets too!"
Are you for real? Oh, and don't forget that your photography needs to be professional, you need a running theme, and for every 8 posts you write, two need to be about your newest release!
Guys, I just can't anymore. I like to feel genuine. If I'm writing a post simply to fill a quota, it makes my skin crawl and I delete it. So guess what? I'm limiting myself. If you want to connect, find me on Instagram (@lizzycharlesbooks.) I'll still occasionally post on Facebook (my lit agent, publisher, and PR agent would be a bit put off if I shut down my account entirely) but mostly I prefer Instagram. It's the the only place that feels natural and fun. And my photos? So not professional on any level. It's just me, real and raw. And I love it.
Maybe it's because I turned 32, but I value my time more. Obviously, I have a lot of hard work on the horizon, new books to write (because this lady isn't giving up) and this blog that I hope will become a space where you can find permission to simply be you. I just can't be pouring time into a place like Facebook that's filled with unnecessary drama and pressure anymore. Not when I have three precious children that deserve my attention, not to mention my books and my career as a nurse.
All this to say this:
Friend, if you are going through a hard time while striving for your dreams and nothing seems to be clicking or going right, I just want you to know that I get you. You are not alone and although it's hard it does not mean it's time to give up. If anything, be encouraged that you are on the right path.
Big things take hard work. Real change takes hard work. And the best part is that in the process there is so much beauty in the refinement. From how you stand back on your feet and take another step to the shape of the tears that roll off your cheek. The new perspectives that are gained are invaluable.
So join me. Dig back in, get dirty on the road, clean up at the end of the day, and then do it all over again tomorrow. Repeat this over and over until one day you can look back and say "Remember when?" as you realize you are farther than you ever thought you could go.