(there will be typos. Just ignore them. This is the only place I’m not a perfectionist with my word choices)
About twice a year, I do an epic blog post about how my life has changed since writing and publishing, how I did it, and the stresses and disbelief that I could. I’ve shared heartache and triumph in the hopes that anyone out there struggling with something in their life, failing to harness the courage to leap and achieve their dreams, or just a little bit lost will find something to inspire them and show, that as humans, we all have doubts and jealousy and flaws, but it’s how we deal with those flaws that make us a better person.
This blog post will be on a topic of BURN OUT & GRATEFULNESS. It doesn’t seem like the two go together, and they don’t really. But it’s two topics that I wish to cover.
I’ll start with BURN OUT.
Since July 2013, I’ve been working my butt off delivering book after book. At the start of January 2015, I stupidly decided to amp up my output which meant all I did, day after day, was sit on my butt and write and write and WRITE. I managed to write four and a half books (over 600,000 words) in that time but I still have to write three books before this year is done. In five days’ time, my husband and I leave for the USA and Canada for a two month book tour. I’d be lying if I said I was looking forward to it. The deadline of 6th July has been hanging over my head every month while I did my best to write 10,000 words a day. It meant I couldn’t do anything else. Lunch out with hubby? Nope. Taking the day off to just read and relax? Hell nope. I became chained to my deadlines and for six months I was able to keep up the pace.
But then last week happened.
Not only do I have to arrange a house sitter, hotels, flights, signings, paperbacks for the signings, and a bunch of other life stuff but I had an insane goal to finish FORBIDDEN FLAWS and have the first draft of FINAL DEBT done before the 6th July. I saw the last week stretched before me, knowing I should work my ass off to get as much done as possible but my mind decided to shut down. I’m not sick, but my body is lethargic, I want to sleep way more than normal (I’m an insomniac so that’s rare) and all I want to do is NOTHING. I don’t want to read, paint, and watch TV. All I want to do is turn my brain off and walk in a forest to get some much needed outdoor exercise.
I guess it’s my body’s way of telling me off. I’ve forced it to write and imagine and create for a solid six months with no break or mental stimulation that I’m now paying the price. I was going to push through it….that little voice inside your head that says ‘Stop being a drama queen’ ‘You’re over thinking it, you can do it’ ‘If you don’t do it you’ll have double the work later.’ Not only would my inner slave-driver not give me a rest, but the damn GUILT over not working was impossible to run away from.
Every morning I get up with the best intentions—to WRITE. To do 10,000 words. To complete my goals. But every morning I fail. (Have done for the past four days.) And now, I have five days before the two month trip and I’m nowhere near my goal—all because I’m being a pansy and not kicking my butt to work. But you know what I just realised this morning? You can’t FORCE yourself to work 24 hours a day—no matter how much you wish you could. There is such a thing as pushing yourself but there does come a time when you need to stop and just say…’you did good. You deserve a few days off’ regardless if you still have a crap load of stuff to do. Because in reality, we will ALWAYS have a crap load of stuff to do. It NEVER ENDS. And I guess our bodies and minds have safeguards in place so that we don’t just become machines and forget to live. We’re forced to take stock, relax and regenerate.
So…that’s where I’m at. For the next five days, I’m going to let go of my guilt, I’m going to do whatever the hell I want (and I have no idea what that is because I’ve been working so much for so long) and I’m going to get myself ready for this epic trip. Not only do I believe taking these five days to just blob, spend time with my rabbit and hubby, will help balance me out again, but I also think it’s what I’m MEANT to do. This trip is going to be amazing, but it’s no secret that I’m a WRITER and writers tend to be reclusive. I love hanging out with people, I adore meeting readers and chatting with every bookworm, but it is draining. Also, it’s winter here, so I’m not getting as much sunlight and my body is in hibernation mode. I figure if I’m kind to myself while my body is telling me to be, then the minute I get to sunny America, I’ll find my lost energy. My daily targets while I’m away include: writing an hour a day in the morning and at night, going to the hotel gym / pool, and exploring new places so I find my inspiration and drive again. In a strange way, I’m glad that I’m going to be a bum this week and have to work extra hard on the trip because it will help kick-start my energy again and knowledge that I can do this—no matter how tired I am currently.
My long winded point to this is—if you’re feeling drained, overworked, stressed, or just generally lethargic for no reason then stop listening to the guilt and just be kind to yourself. Take time out, go on a date, and don’t panic about what you SHOULD be doing. This is what you should be doing—recharging with no awful voice telling you you shouldn’t. My new goals are still lofty but I’m excited about them now, rather than freaking out. I want to get Forbidden Flaws finished by end of July (after touring America) and I want to get Final Debt finished by end of August (after touring Canada.) it’s not going to be easy working while busy and travelling but I’ll make it work.
Right, now that I’ve got that off my chest, it’s time for the GRATEFULNESS aspect of this post.
When I first started writing Tears of Tess, I put up my blurb on Goodreads and hoped to God that people found it before I released a couple of months later. A few added it, and I got giddy with excitement. Then a certain blogger found me and overnight I had 1000 TBR on Goodreads and an avalanche of personal messages asking to read the book. That blogger was Aestas Book Blog and if it hadn’t been for her, I might never have found the market and had my dreams come true. I will be forever grateful to her for talking so excitedly about the book and posting on her social media. I’d love to say that she also enjoyed Tears of Tess, but to this day I don’t believe she did. I expected to be heartbroken but I understand that everyone has their own opinions–and as long as you don’t become a terrible troll behind a hidden laptop–bad reviews and honest dislike are as acceptable as a glowing five star and fan mail.
I never approached her asking why she didn’t like it, as frankly, that’s not my place. It didn’t affect my incredible gratefulness toward her for launching my career and I will always be so honoured that she even chose to share my book. Even though Tears of Tess might not have been her thing, Aestas still shares my every release, creates teasers, and informs her followers of any sales and giveaways I have. The fact she does that even while my writing might not be her cup of tea blows me away. She is a true business woman and I have utter respect for that.
When Tears of Tess released, I woke up to 400 copies sold in a few hours. I couldn’t believe it. By the time the book published there were over 4000 TBR on Goodreads and that was thanks to bloggers, readers, and everyone on social media speaking about it. Yes, a few trolls got involved and 2 starred it in a group after I’d given out over 300 free copies, but they couldn’t take away the joy and amazement I felt at watching people I didn’t know recommending it. Bloggers who might’ve only had 200 followers messaged me asking to review. I gave them a copy. Readers who didn’t even have a blog, I gave them a copy. Anyone who took time out to request a copy, I gave them a copy. Why? Because I knew that it wasn’t the bigger bloggers, or the most likes someone had on Facebook that would drive Tears of Tess. It was the passionate people, the avid bookworms, and I couldn’t be more thankful that they helped Tears of Tess become what it did. Today, those bloggers who only had 200 followers now have over 20,000. The readers who didn’t blog now run bookclubs and indie bookshops. We all grew and evolved together and that is the best part of this writing business. The different facets and friends you make, no matter what city or country we live in. My moral on this is—if you’re a new writer, don’t go after the big blogs thinking that if they shared your link once that you’re made. It doesn’t work that way. You need passion and its those smaller bloggers, and avid readers that spread your work near and far.
I wish I could name every single blogger who helped me to let them know without them I would be nothing. That every post they made, every tweet, and amazing message gave me more than they ever knew. On my list that I’ve gathered over time, I have over eight hundred small bloggers who have grown, closed down, and changed in the two years I’ve been publishing. They’ve been with me from the beginning and I LOVE supporting new bloggers and reviewers. Without them, there would be no recommendations of good books, which would mean no writers being seen, so be kind and generous to everyone out there—you never know who will make or break you.
Before I wrap this up, I want to say one more thing. Once Aestas Book Blog mentioned Tears of Tess other bigger blogs noticed it and asked for ARCS. I handed them out, beyond nervous to hear what they thought. There was one such blog that I’d followed myself as a reader and hoped so much that they’d enjoy Tears of Tess. A few months went by and still no review. I stopped looking and again, figured they were being kind as they obviously didn’t enjoy it and instead of posting a scathing review just walked away professionally. Turned out, they went to read the book and a thread on Goodreads that wasn’t marked as spoilers tore apart the plot for Tears of Tess and ruined the story for them. The passion at reading disappeared and they decided not to read as spoilers SPOILED it. When I learned that, I understood completely and have always maintained a happy relationship with them. They kindly share my sales, new releases, and are always there for me–regardless that they haven’t read my work.
But then along came, Ruin & Rule. I received an email from them asking for a beta copy and handed it over fast as I could. Perhaps MAYBE, just maybe, they could read this one without having anyone spoil it for them (being one of the first to read it) The same nervousness I felt when I first starting publishing came back and I panicked, thinking maybe I’d let them down. That all this time, they hadn’t read my work because of an outside issue but now they would know they didn’t actually like it and would feel obligated to continue sharing etc.
Yesterday, I was tagged in a review which I’m going to share below:
I’m not going to lie. This made my day. Hell, week.
I feel like I’ve achieved something that I never thought I would, almost two years after Tears of Tess released.
So, my moral to this tale is…even when it seems like your book wasn’t enjoyed or those you hoped would love it and become your BFF’s doesn’t happen, it doesn’t mean it’s over. Treat everyone with respect, understanding, thankfulness, and no pressure. And don’t expect anything! It’s when you expect things that you get disappointed for no reason. These bloggers aren’t bound to read or like your work. They’re there to indulge in their passion of reading books they WANT to read and those who have created a business from it, it’s their responsibility to remain professional and only recommend books they think their readers will like. It’s nothing personal. And if one book doesn’t get noticed, then the next one might, or the next or the next. It doesn’t really matter which one will because in the end, you’re writing because you can’t NOT write. If you’re writing for money, that’s great…but beneath it all, you have to have that driving desire to create, otherwise…you’ll just lose yourself.
Even though I’m burned out currently, I know that by the end of my five day break I’ll be champing to get writing again (in fact, I doubt I’ll even make it to five days) writing is an addiction and if you do it right, not only do you become addicted but loyal readers, too.
I’ll end this post with a BIG THANK YOU to every reader who has read my work, every blogger who has taken the time to review, and every private message letting me into your thoughts. Even if you haven’t liked all my work, I still thank you because you gave me another chance to write something that hopefully one day soon, you will enjoy. And if not, that’s okay too. I’m still going to be grateful for your support.
GENERALNESS & GIVEAWAY
I’ll wrap this up now and hope you all have an amazing week. I’ll be leaving soon on the signing tour and I’ll be sharing lots of photographs while i’m away on my instagram page. (approx. 3-4 pics a day–a sort of scrap book of the tour) if you want to stay in touch and follow what I get up to, please follow me over at:
Oh, and today marks exactly SEVEN days until Ruin & Rule is released!! That’s gone so fast and to celebrate my publisher is giving away TWO SIGNED COPIES (one for you and one for a friend) over on my Facebook page. Head on over to enter HERE
Because this post wasn’t long enough already, I thought I’d give a quick heads up of what I’ll be doing the next few months. Not only will I be writing and signing for the next two months overseas, but I’ll also be designing my forever house with my amazing hubby. We bought this piece of land a few months ago (our only splurge) and can’t wait to start building.
Currently we have our neighbour’s sheep grazing it to keep the grass from becoming a forest. It’s two hectares of land and I’m dying to come up with a design that will suit both hubby and me.
Perhaps, I’ll win an insane lottery and build Hawksridge on there instead. Think Jethro Hawk would mind? For those who don’t follow my groups, Hawksridge estate was based on Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire, England. Here is a pic;
Right, I’m truly wrapping this up now. The next blog post will be to celebrate the release of Ruin & Rule and don’t forget to head over to my Facebook page every day this week to win signed copies of the book! Tell people too 🙂 The more the merrier.
Thanks for reading and hope I didn’t bore you too much! xxx