I was outside shoveling my driveway, earlier. I am still sore as I type this, and it is going to take me a while. If you are asking, "Well, where is your husband?" He's at work. He has to take the bus to work now and had to wake up early to catch it. We no longer have a vehicle, nor do we have the funds or credit to get another.
This is what brings me to this blog post...
Today is tough. It reminds me of how lonely my husband and I are, how we sit on top of a tall mountain. It truly is me and my husband here. I can hear the next question: "Well, what about your family and friends?"
All of those questions force me to crawl more into my shell. I've never been big on telling people my whole story. It is a long one, to be honest. I also do not feel like I should have to explain myself to every Tom, Dick, and Harry out there. Those I have proved to me that I have poor choices in with boundaries and who I talk to. It is overwhelming.
So, I am explaining my post, boundaries down. Do you truly know how it feels? Because I am going to go over this story. You might not be sympathetic. You might not care. But when you begin to assign accountability to your hardships, even your faults, then you see a picture. You hold onto mantras that are the opposite and are truths at the same time. Trauma has a way of doing that.
Do I know how it feels to legitimize self-employment? Yes, I do. My family believes that I sit all day and do nothing. I've been called lazy. I've been told that I was faking being chronically ill too. I was called an over-glorified housewife the other week. I snapped, but not before said relation picked apart my paraphrasing and redirected the conversation, to avoid accountability. It is not just them either. When I apply for services, speak with others, any situation - I have to explain why I am technically employed.
I am going to be honest: I have been paid less than $400 in the years I've been a professional author (and I hit the four-year mark in October). It does not make me any less of an author. I am an author without money, audience, and more. But it literally proves a point to my family. They do not support my decision to be self-employed and state that it brings nothing. Yet, without that foundation and the imposter state being imposed, I cannot kick-start my marketing and make this a profitable profession.
And yes, I was told self-employment was a phase by the same people! It was made clear to me was this was a rich man's game and that my life was supposed to be spent making money at whatever place I could get a paycheck from. Yes, that is admirable. I've done it for years. But it left me unhappy and sick. Avenues were used to take me out of the situation, but even the professionals could not find a way through.
Here's something else you might not have thought of...
My son is autistic. When you are a special needs parent, it is tough and lonely. Your own family does not understand what it is like because they don't think there is anything wrong with your child. Growing up being told there was nothing wrong with you was another factor they'll point out. All of this is new to them. The world is changing so fast that they do not want to keep up anymore...and that is a shame. I feel the same way, but I try to learn about new cultures, pronouns, and viewpoints.
Let's go back to support. As a reminder: my last event was at the Preston Fire Department. Despite telling everyone weeks before and posting it on social media, nobody showed up and nobody shared any of the marketing posts. I received no sales and many people tossed my flyers out or got bored after a few minutes and kept interrupting. I had a few people complain or express awe over what I did. And no, my husband could not show, because it was not a place for our special needs child, and we have no babysitter.
Think about that. Take all the time you need.
So, put this next scenario together: you want to be an author and have no friends or family helping out. You turn to traditional marketing practices. I know that feeling - I have used agencies, bookstores, and more, to market myself. Some of them turned on me, cheated me on consignment, or outright told me that I was a liar. Others tried and nothing came of it. None of them could believe that I knew people who did not have the decency to spread word of my books. All of them thought they could run me over and tell me that I am seeing things, or that I am not doing enough.
They are all wrong.
Don't get me wrong. I am thankful for everyone who has helped me and kept the door open. It allowed me to do the same for the next author. But every victory is mine and mine alone. Whatever you see is all me. Nobody writes this blog, comes up with the ideas, or even does the social media...except for me. All of this work, 24/7 practically, is on me.
Special needs child. Veteran husband. No steady support. Community rejection. No reasonable income.
Go ahead. Judge us. Then, check the skeletons in your closet.
Don't think I am pointing the finger. I am the daughter of a narcissist. I have a lot to learn about life and how to communicate, treat people, and ask for help. I was stuck in a perpetual cycle of listening to someone who is supposedly helping me until I see they are not. The world is never always about me.
I welcome constructive criticism about it, which is why I allow civil comments. I am an analyzer and love to think. It has gotten me into trouble many times and shaped who I am, but it generally has been seen as pushy (whichever end you are on). But nitpicking at every little detail, downplaying everything, and dictating to me the perfect image of an author is wrong. Everybody deserves improvement. Nobody deserves to be talked down to.
There is no set image to being an author. Everybody is different. Every experience is an adventure. We cannot judge, admire, or be jealous of each other. This is a professional art with individual images. We uplift, not compare.
We are flesh and blood beings. We have feelings and get excited when people interact on our social media, review a book, anything! We also love communicating with our readers. When you promise something, like writing a review or sharing posts, we expect it to be done.
I've been promised a lot. There is a fine line between nagging and reminding, though. I know that I cross that line often. I was never taught proper boundaries. However, once I began making them, I always questioned if they were right, or if I came across too strongly. Sometimes, I was. Other times, I was not...and people are intimidated by this. They do not like being confronted.
I have given out a LOT of free books. This is at a huge cost to me. I ask people to leave a review on the appropriate websites. I've explained how important it was to me. They were thankful for the freebie, but never for the work in return. When I mention it, they are automatically defensive. Even friends who read my books do not bother. I used to remind them once every few months. Now, I am not bothering.
So, I thought I was part of the problem. It was my attitude, my image, anything! I had to be more professional. I decided to develop the CT Authors Partnership as a solution (which I am still dedicated to). I wanted to help other authors with these same issues, meet the socio-economic needs, and return to my community. I had two events lined up and a list of authors who said they were interested. But nobody wanted to answer me until I really pushed.
My trauma and a lot of current events have me anxious. Ever since I was a child, I always wondered if I was worth it. Did I do enough? Is the proof I gave enough? Am I truly making the right choices? Did I make my plans too hastily, knowing that nobody around was going to support me? That I will always be questioned, judged, and even ridiculed?
It is a difficult thing, being on your own and being an author. I said I was never going to give up. I mean it. But holding onto all of this is heavy. You don't need to carry it too...
Today is a tough day. Here's the flip side, though. I have many wishes for the world. I hope you never have to feel like I do, questioning your worth and wondering if you did right. I hope you never have to defend yourself, time and again, because the people in your corner bailed on you. I hope you are given the love and compassion you need, even when times are rough.
I never want you to forget the plight of authors. Feelings pass. Dreams do not. Don't take it away.