I know what I look like to you. Believe me, I spend time every day thinking about what I look like to you. Sometimes it’s exactly how I look to me, but most of the time, the way I appear and the way I feel are different. I’m great at wearing masks, and right now I’m too scared to keep wearing the “I know exactly what I’m doing face.” Warning: the rest of this post is pretty grim, it’s not a cry for help, I just need to do this sometimes because it’s cathartic as hell. Quit reading if you need to, I don’t mind.
Am I a sham? I don’t think so. I think I can rise to most occasions, show up, turn it on, and then retreat back into myself. It’s kind of messy in here right now, filled with doubt and uncertainty. I keep telling myself that I’m tired. That I’m seasonally affected. I think what’s more likely is that I’m scared. I’ve worked hard, and once again that work isn’t yielding the immediate results that I wanted to see, and so I’m on the precipice of walking away.
I do that. I walk away. From everything.
No, cancel that. I DID that. It was my M.O. for a long, long time. Jobs, apartments, relationships, passions. Nothing was safe. I’ve made some huge breakthroughs here, with lots of hard work and self-dedication, but that impulse is still there. What is this part of me that expects it all to come easily? What is this piece of me that feels so utterly defeated when it doesn’t?
Publishing a book was the easy part. Getting people to see it, buy it, talk about it – straight up, it sucks. I hate it. Not because I don’t like trying to ‘sell’ my book, but because the Internet is so unbelievably large that I don’t even know where to start. And also, because this was supposed to be the ‘making money’ time, and I’d counted on breaking even coming out of the gate to help fuel my marketing efforts. I mean, that’s only like 50 books. But nope, no luck. Total transparency, I’ve sold three physical copies and a small handful of e-books. A slap in the face, or perhaps a big wake-up call.
It feels too indulgent to spend my hours creating pitch lists and writing emails that seem to keep falling into a void. It’s exhausting and too big, and I’m tired of not seeing the money come in, so instead I’m working for other people. Giving my hours, my brain-space away to grow our family business, to volunteer, to barter. This I love. This fills me with purpose, and meaning, and pride, and ironically inspiration to pour back into my own work, the work I no longer have time for. No blog posts for the Club, no ideas for my own well because there’s nothing left at the end of the day.
Catch 22 of the working artist. Find work that contributes to the bottom line. Lose focus and energy for the art you are most truly passionate about.
But is it? Is this blog, and those books the work I’m truly most passionate about? Why did I feel nauseous and kind of dead inside when I hit ‘publish’ on my book? Was that fear? Why did my soul unfurl at a Formica table while jamming with a new collaborator? Why did I actually cry real tears when I was reunited with the amazing women from the burlesque troupe I used to run? Writing is solitary, and my life has become lonely. I need people. I like working with other people.
So where do I go from here? I know I have to keep writing. If you were a regular reader, but you’re not reading this new blog, that’s cool. I’ve gone in new directions, and I feel really good about those. It’s not the same ‘veins wide open’ kind of writing you got used to. It can’t be. That shit was exhausting and I started to feel really weird about it. I’m feeling weird about this post too.
If I don’t write, I feel like I’m drying up. I have a novel to re-write. Maybe nobody will buy that either, but I love it, and I want to finish it and publish it so my girls can read it some day. I miss posting here too. And creating fun and pretty ways to get you writing and your creative, passionate juices flowing.
I’ll re-jig my schedule again. I’ll carve out at least one day just for my own work. I’ll try to find balance, and hope, and faith that I’m doing this because I’m supposed to. This is what I’m supposed to do, right? I thought it was. I really did.
What am I missing? Where is the piece that isn’t fitting? How can I reach more, move more, make more people feel things?
Maybe Spring will show me what to do.
This post is dedicated to any of you who have been felled by self-doubt. You’re not alone my friends.