If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve likely seen my desk shots. From neat and tidy to cluttered. But everything I need to do my job is within reach and I thought I’d share with you what 5 of those things are:
Coffee (or some type of secondary drink) … If you know anything about me, you know I love my coffee. I can’t live without my coffee. It’s an addiction and I’m okay with that. I’ve accepted it. I’ve admitted it. I’ve made peace with it. If it’s give up coffee today or die tomorrow? Well, get to work planning the funeral. I have a coaster a friend (thank you Susan) taught me how to make that my drinks sit on. And the drink is always within reach.
Planners (and pens/pencils) … I have 3. My Happy Planner with my day to day Hustles (I’ll go into this another day, but you can always email me if you NEED to know what the hell I’m talking about with this Hustle stuff). My Editorial Calendar with blog goals. I just found this one again from when I moved office spaces and have started going through it. It’s really awesome and indepth. Holy. Moly. And my 3rd planner is my Always Fully Booked one. It’s all about books. What I’ve read, what I want to read, reviews (though I don’t leave reviews) and where I plan to keep what books I plan to read and actually DO read during readathons. But planners are always within reach to keep me on track and keep me current with what I have going on in my writing, reading, planning, creating, social media, etc…
Phone (plus my bluetooth ear piece and earbuds) … Yep. No explanation needed with this one, huh? Didn’t think so. Plus, podcasts. I listen to podcasts on my phone and so, yeah …
Sticky notes and Notepads/Notebooks … I always have something I’m jotting down. Lately it’s been inspirational thoughts for where I want to take my business and other ideas I have for perhaps other businesses and growth, etc… But I also write down websites I want to visit, color codes that are on my covers, my website, books I want, calculations, doodles. I think better and with more clarity when I write things down by hand. And I am forever taking notes from the podcasts I listen to. There’s so much valuable information in them. (And… yesterday I grabbed my pink sticky notes, a pen, and practically plastered my office walls with thoughts, quotes, questions, and inspiration)
Personal care items … This could be a whole post in itself. There’s a mini bottle of coconut oil lotion, pocket sized waterless soaps, Lime Crime lipstick (Bomber is the shade), a bottle of perfume, glasses (one pair for computer work, one for distance wear), a cupcake nail kit, my ankle braces, and almost always a pair of socks.
So, what’s on your desk? What would surprise us? Anything? Please share in the comments below!
Thursday, February 22nd was my 47th birthday. And this year, I felt…different.
On previous birthdays… I’d say at least the last 4 or 5, I’ve been increasingly sad, depressed, wanting to soak every moment out of my birthday while at the same time, wanting to crawl under the blankets and hide from it. But as I said, this year felt different. And here are my 5 reasons/things why I think that is…
Embracing Letting Go … This year I’ve spent a great deal of time working on myself, on figuring out who I am, who I want to be, who I don’t want to be. I’ve been in the doldrums for a long time, in some ways, all my life. And since I started keeping a journal, I’ve been able to work through some of the questions of why I am the way I am and have been able to understand, accept, and let go of a lot of horrible feelings. I used to be somewhat afraid of what letting go of things I’d held onto for so many years (since I was 6 years old, to be honest). If I let go, what would happen to me? Who would I be if I were no longer this negative, dreary, holding onto the hurt and anger and pain and guilt? I’m a happier person, that’s who.
Yoga/Meditation/Talking to the Universe … Last year I challenged myself to walk for 30 minutes for 30 days straight. I wanted to see how I’d feel at the end of it. I wanted to see what changes I encountered about myself, what changes I encountered to my body, if any. In the end, though, the only thing I that I had to show for it was the fact that I’d done it and I was proud that I had. Other than that? Nothing. My joints hurt. My body felt bloated. I had no energy. I tried to start it up again, but I didn’t. I didn’t want to. Yes, exercise is important, but what’s more important than exercise in general, is the specific exercise that speaks to you. And a walk every once in a while is awesome. But that’s not my exercise happy place. That my exercise bliss. Yoga is. Whether it’s 5 minutes or 50 minutes, I feel incredible afterward. I am not focused on losing weight, but feeling good within my body, mind, and soul. I follow an at home practice. Yoga with Adriene. She’s awesome. Bright, open, knowledgeable, energetic and her motto is Find What Feels Good. I have embraced this. Yoga feels good. I’ve been doing it no less than 5 days a week most weeks of 2018 so far. I have noticed changes in my body, in my stress levels. I am kinder to myself. I am full of gratitude toward myself when the practice is over. Yoga helps focus me and calm my mind. I have more positive energy.
Meditation … This is new for me. Or, re-new for me. I’m trying to take at least 5 minutes a day to close my eyes and just breathe. Just exist in the breath, in the moment. It, too, has helped calm and center me. My goal is to work myself up to longer periods of meditation to help reduce stress even more, to silence the noise in my head and connect with the part of me where ideas and creativity and peace reside.
Talking to the Universe … You can say it’s God, or your version of God … I call it the Universe. It’s a free form conversation I have daily. A lot. There’s a lot of gratitude in it, a lot of asking for help in different areas of my life, asking to be of use, to be of service, to be kinder to myself and to others, to be more open to letting go, to receiving, to ideas, to change. This has become a… I don’t even have a word for it. It’s an experience. It’s not inside my head. It’s spoken with my mouth when I’m alone, when I’m in the shower, when I’m doing chores, when I find that my thoughts are not good, are negative, are judgmental of myself or others, when I’m disgruntled with family or friends … This conversation has been altering for me because it never ends. The lines of communication are always open.
Having a Plan … This part goes back to my recent blog posts about my writing and publishing career. Writing is a HUGE part of my life. And I needed a mindset change. We can’t change how we think or feel unless we have the conversations with ourselves and are ready for change. And as y’all know, those conversations with myself and then with you, were not easy, were not pretty, were not fun. They were, however, necessary. And I’m all the more glad for them. My plan for the moment is simple: write and release books. Yes, I need to market. But I’ve spent years dwelling on nothing, on fears, on jealousies, on inferiority, on inconsistency, on not knowing where to start so not starting at all. But now, I have a publishing plan. And starting to look at the marketing side of things, on the branding side of things. Writing, though… Writing gives me joy, fills me with creative energy and this propels me forward, this keeps me moving forward. I’ve defined Lissa Matthews and I’m working on continuing to refine the definition and pick up the momentum. And for the first time in years, I feel hope and happiness as Lissa Matthews.
I am also going to be launching a new name and I’m hopeful that I can launch Ella Claire the right way from the word GO!
Having a plan has been awesome for my mood and dedication to my writing career. I didn’t realize how essential it was to have a plan. Now I do.
Reading … I read a lot now. Over the last year, I’ve begun to read a lot more than I had in the previous few years. I read big books, small books, print books, ebooks. I read YA fiction, crime thrillers, sweet romance, chick lit, some romance, writing craft books, personal development books, entrepreneur mindset books, marketing books. I read. It lets me get out of my head. It lets me escape. It lets me experience other things, other worlds, other imaginations. It opens my mind. It empowers me. It energizes me. It moves me through the whole range of emotions. It prefer reading over television. It keeps my mind, whether business or fantasy, sharp and curious. And curiousness was something missing in my life for a long, long, LONG time. Being curious helps us embrace the child within and this for me was something I’d been missing on a regular basis. Curiosity is one of the things that can help keep us feeling younger, feeling better, feeling more open.
Mindset … I know I talked about this last week, but it bears repeating, at least for me, that a shift, a change in mindset has allowed me to become and embrace more of me, more of the me I want to be, more of the me that’s been wandering lost for years.It’s one of those things that when it comes, if you paddle and stand up to ride that wave, it’ll take you somewhere you have been trying to find, but that’s been right there all along. It’s not easy to change a lifetime of negative thought, of hate speech toward yourself, of ugly words about your appearance, of judgmental thoughts and words for things that happened to you that you had no control over. If you’re down and negative, you attract down and negative. I never bought into that until this year. But it’s true. So is the opposite. If you’re up and positive, you begin to attract up and positive. If you let go, you begin to receive because you’ve opened up. If you smile, smiles will come back to you. What you allow in is what you end up showing the world. I didn’t believe any of it. Until this year. Until I was ready. Until I stood up to ride the wave.
A year or two or five ago, I dreaded every birthday. I wanted it and at the same time, I didn’t. I didn’t want to get older. I saw older as the end coming that much closer. I saw it as wrinkles and my mind beginning to shut down, my body breaking down. I greeted each birthday with fear and a desire to go back. To be 20 again, to be 16, 14, 10 again… To go back and make different choices, different decisions. To go back and live again. But that’s not possible. We can’t go back. We can only go forward. We can do so in stagnant waters, or we can do so in an inner tube floating along in crystal clear spring waters, riding the ebbs and flows and engaging with ourselves at each interval. This is what I’ve begun to do. I am open to the Universe, to finding what feels good, to smiling at myself, to being kind and generous with myself, to being open and receptive, to being grateful and accepting of challenges, to putting myself out there and learning new things, to having goals and higher standards for myself. I have gray hairs and I’m finding I like them. I’ve lived 47 years in a bit of darkness. The gray hairs I have are more white than gray and they’re part of the brightness in my life now. I’m embracing color and sparkles and things that bring me happiness.
I’m 47 years old now and I feel as though I’ve just started my life …
I have to start off by thanking everyone who read and commented through email or on social media about last week’s post: 5 Things I Learned About Resistance to Change. That it touched some of you enough that you reached out was more than I expected when I posted it. But that it did resonate with you, tells me that we could all use a little more vulnerability in our lives and maybe a little more facing the things that hold us back.
I told you I would post some of the things I am doing to combat my resistance to change, to combat my fears, so, if you’re still interested, keep reading… All of what you’ll read below is personal. It’s personal changes I’m making in order to fix and define Lissa Matthews and the Lissa Matthews brand.
One of the big questions in this arena of fear that I’ve successfully cultivated has been ‘Yes, and…?’
I’m losing readers. Yes, and…?
I’m losing respect and credibility. Yes, and…?
I’m scared I’ll fail. Yes, and…?
See a pattern here? There are many other statements I’ve made over the years to foster the fears and fill my own personal arena. But the big different between then and now, is my addition to the statement. “Yes, and…?”
Yes, and… is asking So, what are you going to do about it? What are you going to do to change things? What actions can you take, will you take to get your ass out of that broken down arena and into a brand spankin’ new stadium? For a long time my response was ‘Fuck if I know.’ That, I’m happy to report is no longer my mindset.
And that is the first thing I’m doing…
Change in Mindset… This had to come from me. From inside. When I was ready. I know my faults. I know my weaknesses. I’m learning about the things that hold me back. I’m learning about my limiting thoughts and how they’ve helped me remain stagnant. All of the things on this list are difficult, but changing mindset encompasses all of them and more, and therefore I think, is the most challenging.
Living in a state of fear, of resistance, of scarcity, of lack kept me hunched and curled up inside, shriveled and small, full of blame, envy, poor pitiful me, and stressed. And the saddest and scariest part of it was that I was content there. I was comfortable there. How fucked up is that? Seriously? That was my comfort zone. And being there, nothing ever changed. I was this… person that I didn’t like. I was bitter and scared. And I counted myself out. I. COUNTED. MYSELF. OUT. And that shit sucks. When you grow up fearing letting people in, fearing hurt, fearing abandonment, fearing trying, fearing failure, fearing what others thought, fearing being different, fearing finding out who you really are… Your comfort zone is fear, is lack, is dread, is the belief that you’re never going to get beyond and have the life you have only dared to dream about in small increments.
Well, I sure as hell wasn’t getting anywhere that way… But I had to be ready. No one could tell me to change. No one could tell me to let it go. I had to make the decision. I had to make the choice. I had to decide that Okay, I’m done with this. I’m done being mediocre and broke on the inside and in my bank account and in my heart and soul. I’m done. Yes, a push is good and a push is what I got, but I still had to be open to it. I still had to be ready to receive what changing my mindset from lack and fear and limiting thoughts and resistance would do for me.This year, 2018, I made the choice! I took the push and let it shove me over the edge and into change, into embracing whole-heartedly what was on the other side. I’m still doing it, still moving in, still setting up shop in this new mindset of Abundance. It’s a wide open space full of light and color. Sometimes it’s scary and I want to retreat back to where I came from. I had several days in a row like that this week and I was able to realize and SEE that I was miserable that way. Oh. My. God. I was able to look in the mirror at myself and say “I don’t like this. I don’t want to be this way again. It’s awful.” And I put on what I call my Badass 2018 playlist in Spotify and shake myself out of it, dance myself out of it. Because while there are hard days and bad days and less than productive days and days where I am not sure I’m making any progress at all, I am still in this light and open and colorful space where there’s support and learning and growth and creative thoughts and ideas and passion happening, where changes propel me forward and I see and feel the good and I can employ a phrase I read recently in Jen Sincero’s You Are A Badass… “This is good because…”
The abundance mindset isn’t necessarily about money, though, yes, that, too. But it’s more an abundance of creativity, empowerment, strength, love, friendship, connection, laughter, focus, desire, beauty, kindness, openness, giving, receiving… And when I embrace these things, this mindset, I feel it, I experience it. I become the person I could have been all along had I not lived 40something years in fear.
So, that’s one thing I am doing. I am changing my mindset. I am changing how I see myself and my world and my work. It’s unlike anything I’ve imagined it could be. But that’s not all, folks…
Attitude of Gratitude… This isn’t as easy as maybe it should be. It’s not as natural as it definitely should be. I have to be mindful. I sometimes have to force it…at first. But once I get started, things roll off my tongue. My kids. Food in the pantry. The $7 royalty check that came in the mail when I have $30 to my name and I won’t see another royalty check until the 29th. Coffee in the fridge. Books to read. Good friends. Family who loves me. Racing season. My health. Myself. My life. My ability to tell a story. That you guys read last weeks blog and allowed it to touch you. Music. People reaching out to me, offering to help me, to help teach me, to help guide me. For the life I want and deserve. For everything. I. AM. GRATEFUL! Gratitude for and in everything. At various times of the day. This makes me feel incredible. And as I said, it should be easy to say thank you, but… it’s not. It’s life changing when living in gratitude, when being grateful rather than down trodden and harsh and oh woe is me brightens up the mental and emotional spaces. Being grateful has opened my eyes, has started softening me, making me a gentler and kinder and more genuine person.
Routine… I work for myself. I am self-employed. At least, I played at it (ch-ch-ch-changes). I didn’t have to have a routine. I could do my job whenever, wherever. I was home all day. Please, feel free to call bullshit with me. Because that’s what it all is, what it all was… Bullshit. So, I have a routine now and there are changes to this daily and working toward getting comfortable with those changes is a work in progress and one I’ll share with you if you want. But for the purpose of this post, I now have a routine. I need the routine. I need the structure and focus of the routine. Built into it is time to myself, time for work, time for household things, time for rest, time for reading, time for sleep.
I’ve never, ever been a morning person. However, that is a lie. I’ve never been a 5am-5:30am-6:30am-7am and beyond morning person. I used to think I was a night person, and while I did some great work between 1am and 3am, that was a lie, as well. For the last… 9 months to a year, I’ve had a lot of mornings that I’d wake up, and I mean be wide awake, at 4:30am. I’d look at the clock and think to myself, Nope. No way in hell am I getting my ass out of bed at 4:30am. It would usually take about 30min for me to force myself back to sleep and when the alarm roused me at 6am, I was groggy, grumpy, irritated, and just not very nice. A few weeks ago, I woke up at 4:30am again, and this time I was like, what the hell, I’ll get up. I’ll try this. They say the most successful people get up early and get their day started, I’ll give it a shot. I’m awake. And I know I’ll be bitchy if I stay in bed until the alarm goes off. I was surprised. Completely and totally surprised. I felt incredible. I felt amazing. I felt…dare I say it, Productive. I got started on some work. I had coffee. I had a quiet house. I turned on YouTube and did some yoga. I did some more work. And when I heard people moving around upstairs, I went up to take a shower and came back down to deal with chores and cats. Then, I got back to work.
For the first time in a long, long, LONG time, I was productive. I was moving in the right direction. It has been life-changing. There’s that word again. Change. Do you see it? I’m embracing changes. I’m making changes. I fought the changes and that fight got me NOWHERE.
My day starts at 4:30am. Even on weekends. Naps are incorporated into my day, sometimes. But I will tell you this… On the days at 4:30am is NOT realized, I feel like shit. I’m grumpy, groggy, stressed, frustrated, bitchy, irritated, short with everyone, scattered and unfocused, sleepy, and unproductive.
Learning what works for me is truly mind-blowing. A routine… I needed a routine and I now have one.
Forgiveness… Forgiving others is easier. Forgiving myself is… Well, the truth of the matter is, it’s fucking hard. Forgiving myself for not living up to my own expectations and carrying around the ‘well, I didn’t do it today and yesterday was a bust, too. Might as well not even try tomorrow or the next day. I’ll try against next week.’ I’ve done this on diets and with writing and with housework and with…well, pretty much everything at one time or other. Forgiving myself for how I have treated someone. Forgiving myself for how I have treated myself, for how harsh I’ve been to myself. Forgiving myself for not meeting my goals for the day, for not getting up on time, for curling up in the chair and watching movies all day. Forgiving myself for my attitudes of jealousy and envy and blame. Forgiving myself and letting it all go… Pulling it all up from the soles of my feet to the top of my head and pushing it all out. Easing the burden on my heart, my soul, my mind. The harder I hold it in. The harder it is to let go. The darker and harder I become. But when I do forgive myself and let go? I can pick up and move on lighter, easier. I can see clearer. I can be kinder to myself and in how I talk about and see myself. And that, my friends, also goes back to that whole change in mindset thing.
Having a Plan… This list is in no particular order. All things on it are important and necessary for me to turn my life and my writing career around so I can start going in the right direction, which is UP!
This having a plan thing has become crucial to what I want to do. I want to write. I want to publish. I want old readers back and I want a slew of new readers. I want to touch and move and inspire people with my words. I have always loved to write. Since I was a kid. I loved to make up stories and tell them and live in them. They were my escape from the parts of my real life that were shit. And stories are an escape for a lot of others, too. But I didn’t know how to achieve what I wanted. Oh sure, I had a general idea. But, not a complete and whole idea. And I definitely didn’t have a plan for how to put said idea into practice.
Talk to most authors, bloggers, creatives of all sorts, business people of all sorts and they’ll tell you they have a plan. It might just be loosely written on a cocktail napkin. Or it may be very detailed and span many pages and be bound in leather. But there’s a plan. I didn’t have a plan. Ever. I wanted to write the book and submit the book and move on to the next one. That was the extent of my planning. I didn’t plan series and I didn’t plan long term WTF are you going to do if something goes wrong in publishing… I didn’t pay attention close enough and I didn’t plan. And I lost.
Back in December, I decided I was going to have a plan going into the new year. I was going to figure this shit out. I was going to dig myself out of the fucked up mess I was in and I was going to make it. I had already broken it. As I said before, there was and is nowhere else to go but UP. I have to make it. Will the Lissa Matthews brand shift and sway a bit more before I get it all figured out? Yes. There is no doubt in my mind about that. How it will shift and sway, I don’t know. You’ll have to stay tuned for that in the coming months.
The plan for me is loose. It’s been written and re-written and then, re-written, yet again. It has publishing dates for re-releases and new releases. It has exactly how many books I want to write new this year. It has pre-order dates.
I have a loose blog plan. Blog twice a week.
Something I heard a couple of years back is the word FOCUS. I shared this with y’all back then, but I’ll share it again now.
Writing is one course.
Blogging is one course.
Newsletter building is one course.
Social media is one course.
Marketing is one course.
All these can be broken down even more, broken down into much smaller, much more focused detail. But for this post, that’s a general idea.
It’s like when you’re trying to lose weight or incorporate exercise or switch from sugary coffee to coffee no sugar, etc… Focusing on one shift at a time until you succeed, allows that shift to stick when you move on to the other next shift in behavior you need to make. Some people can tackle it all at once and it work. Most of us, can’t. We get discouraged when we bite off more than we can chew, when we make all the shifts at once and the results aren’t immediate. We give up.
Building what I want from Lissa Matthews will take singular focus. Building what I want from my personal life will take the same singular focus. Working with them in concert will help align them.
So, I have a publishing plan.
I have a blogging plan. This 5 Things post is a weekly thing. I’m focusing on it. Making sure it’s on the blog every week.
My focus is consistency. Being consistent with releases and publishing 5 Things on the blog once a week.
And I have to say, y’all… I have never, since I started pursuing writing, felt more alive and more positive and more determined than I have in the last 6 weeks. I’m shifting, I’m changing, I’m moving forward. Having a plan is going to get me where I want to go. Having a road map, however loose it is, is going to help me get to my ultimate destination.
Which leads me back to the beginning of this post. “Yes, and…?”
All these fears I’ve struggled with on an hourly basis for YEARS: Fear of the unknown, of failure, of success, of discomfort, of loss… Beating myself up while remaining stagnant and scared… My answers to “Yes, and…?” A change in mindset, giving into a routine, forgiveness, creating a plan, and learning to be grateful… There are more, of course. And if you want to know what else I’m doing to shift from downtrodden and lacking hope to I’m a total BADASS and I’ve got this, let me know.
Thank you again for listening… Being vulnerable is not easy. Sharing yourself at your lowest points is not easy. Admitting you screwed up and are the one to blame is not easy. Changing is not easy… But change and growth is necessary if we are to break out whatever corner our fears have forced us into.
And how it’s nearly killed the Lissa Matthews brand.
See, I used to make money writing bad boys with tattoos, one night stands, hook-ups with promise, kink here and there, and women who were learning to embrace themselves and not apologize for it. That was my brand. No nonsense novellas with heat and tenderness that could melt the reader. My writing was filled with passion and emotion.
I no longer make money writing those stories. But others do.
I barely make money at all from writing anymore. And the give up line has edged my toes a lot. I’m still here, though. I would say I’m still fighting, but that wouldn’t be true. I wasn’t fighting before. I was blaming. All sorts of things. But I wasn’t fighting. At least not in the right way.
I’ve done a lot of soul searching and I’ve done a lot of thinking and researching and looking into what happened. It’s not pretty. It’s not pretty because it’s personal. It’s personal because it’s something I did. It’s personal because it’s my fault.
And I’m going to clue you in on how and then next week I’ll clue you in on what I’m doing about it. That’s the key. I did this. It’s my fault I’m in this hole…and what I’m doing about it.
First, though… This is vulnerable shit. This isn’t written and shared lightly. This isn’t oh woe is me and feel sorry for me, either. But it is full of vulnerability and that’s part of owning it.
One of my publishers didn’t embrace the changes in the publishing industry either and they found themselves fighting an uphill battle that eventually put them out of business. it’s taken some time for me to realize I’ve been doing the same exact fucking thing for years now.
Resistance to change often equals a fear of change. They leave us (ME) paralyzed. And I am so damn guilty.
Fear of the Unknown… When self publishing began to take over in earnest, I resisted it while wanting to embrace it. My fear was stronger than anything else. It led to skepticism. Side eye glances. And a whole ‘let’s wait and see’ attitude. While others were embracing it and running with it, writing new books quickly or re-releasing tons of older titles in rapid succession and making money and best seller lists… I was over here both envious and fearful. And a part of me wanted the old ways to come back. I paid it lip service, but I was scared out of my mind to take that same leap of faith everyone else was gleefully taking. At least, it looked gleeful from my side of the fence. By sitting on the sidelines, pretending I was scoping it out, I was really fucking scared…
Not only was I scared of the unknown, I was also scared of falling flat on my face…
Fear of Failure… This one is huge. For me, it goes hand in hand with Self-Doubt. I had received in my early publishing years some pretty scathing reviews on a couple of my most personal and favorite novellas. They rendered me motionless and fearful of writing anything else. They weren’t just about the content of the stories. There were personal jabs in them that cut deep, personal jabs from people who didn’t know my life, my experiences, and that I didn’t fit into the same box as others. I never wanted to fit, but at the same time, I desperately did. Being different in this business isn’t always the best thing. Being like everyone else, writing what everyone else was writing, marketing the same way everyone else was marketing… that’s how you get noticed. Your name linked to someone similar. I wanted to stand on my own but I didn’t believe in myself enough, I didn’t believe I could, I wasn’t strong enough and it made me doubt every word I wrote. I had a whole host of devils whispering in one ear that I sucked, and a handful of readers and editors telling me I didn’t. Guess which ones I listened to most? Yep. My writing wasn’t good enough to stand on it’s own without a publisher behind it. If a publisher signed me, then that meant I still had some credibility. But did it? Did it really? No. I was scared to fail. Because if I put myself out there and fell flat on my face, there was no one to take up for me anymore. There was only me. And I wasn’t about to risk it. I let self doubt eat away at me until I was nothing more than a shell of the writer I had been.
And being in the realm of scathing self-doubt and fear of failure, I was also in the land of self-sabotage…
Fear of Success… I never really understood what this meant. How could anyone be fearful of being successful? It’s a complex thing. Success means you’ve done a thing. Now there’s pressure to do the thing again, but better. The fear can lead to perfectionism and the perfectionism can lead to never doing the thing at all. Or getting so close to the finish line that… You just stop. You find everything wrong with the thing. You re-write. You start over. You walk away. You talk yourself out of it. It was a stupid idea anyway. It was a dumb book. Besides, who am I, the one they’ve said doesn’t know shit about what she’s talking about, to think I can be successful in this business? Who am I to think I deserve it? I mean, ME? Deserve success? A best seller status? A big royalty check? Someone to notice me? Other writers wanting to learn from me? Talk to me? Be my friend? Yeah, right. And if, by some miracle, any or all of that happened and I became successful…? What if I can’t do again? What if I drop the ball huge the next time? Nope. I’ll just stay here in this spot. I may not be getting anywhere, but at least I’m safe in my fear, dammit! No one expects anything of me anymore, therefore I can’t disappoint them.
All of that is a big steaming pile of BULLSHIT!
Fear of Discomfort… This is a big one. We like comfort zones. We like this space we inhabit. We don’t want to move away from it into the scary void. In this box or circle or whatever your shape of comfort is, it’s yours. It was mine. Beyond it was a lot of stuff I didn’t know and that I didn’t know how to do. Market myself, my books. I didn’t have a lot of financial resources at the time, but I had a little and I could have invested in learning, taking a few calculated risks, asking for some help. But I didn’t. I didn’t want to look stupid. Everyone else seemed to be figuring the machine of self-publishing out, but I didn’t know anything about it and fear of looking like the dumb kid in the smart class kept me from stepping out of my comfort zone. It kept me looking beyond it with more of that skepticism and resistance to laying money out for advertising that I didn’t understand, for covers I couldn’t fathom affording, for list building, for giveaways, for conferences, for workshops, for everything I saw everyone else doing. And now? I can’t afford any of it at all. And that is one gigantic, fucking uncomfortable place to admit to being. Staying in my comfort zone, being scared, being judgmental, being skeptical has led me exactly nowhere in my career. It’s led me to being broke and safe and damn near close to losing everything I’d worked so hard at the first couple years I was writing and signing contacts.
And because I have come so close to losing Lissa Matthews, we come to the last fear on my list…
Fear of Loss… You might wonder what on earth there was to lose, but there was and is a lot. Losing time and money by making or not making a decision, a choice. Losing the respect of friends and/or family. Losing our routine and I do love a routine no matter how much I may protest. Losing freedom to choose something else or nothing at all. Losing the comfort of staying in the same place. Losing the safety net. Losing who we’ve always been to become who we were born to be. Losing the old in favor of the new. Losing control over our lives, our content, our voice. Losing the known and steady for the unknown and unproven.We’re scared, or I was scared to try because if I grasped the thing I wanted… success as an author, I could lose it, too. And wouldn’t it be better if I never had it in the first place, than to have it and lose it? But, it happened anyway, whether I realized it at the time or not. I was so scared to embrace the changes happening in the publishing industry, learn the things I needed to learn, pushed others away because they were going to realize I was a fraud and sucked at writing, stayed in my comfort zone… I lost readers, credibility, sales, respect, friends… Everything I was afraid of losing, I lost by not doing anything.
These last few years have been awful for me as a writer. But they have allowed me to observe. To watch other writers. To watch readers. To see what is happening and what isn’t happening. It has allowed me to keep the edge of my toe in while standing outside a community I was once almost in the middle of. I’ve gained some insights that have helped others with starting their self publishing careers. I’ve helped others forge a path of their own and see where they could go with their writing. I’ve learned that not being successful in the writing arena and all this fear and resistance to change, has taught me better observation skills and allowed me to see things from a different perspective.
But I’ve also begun to look at how my resistance and fear have held me suspended in a sort of quicksand. Neither sinking nor grabbing a limb and pulling myself out. It’s left me in limbo. This has not been a good thing and like I promised, I’ll share with you next week what I’m doing about it.
Thanks for listening…