I was laying in bed this morning. It was warm and I didn’t want to get up yet so I broke my own rule and opened up Candy Crush. I usually don’t do that. I’ve been trying to revamp my mornings and help my brain function a little more clear and all, but… Best laid plans and shit.
Y’all know I’ve been lost for a really fucking long time. Like so fucking long. And I’m still lost, so don’t go getting all excited. I still have no idea what the hell I’m doing or where the hell I’m going. As tired as y’all are of me being lost and seemingly saying the same thing over and over and over again, believe me, I’m even more tired of feeling it. But… A lot of the mental work I’ve been doing, a lot of the searching myself, mainly asking What Do I Want To Write followed pretty closely by Do I Even Want To Write Anymore? is paying off. I’m shedding a lot of the crap that was built up over the last 48 years of my life.
There’ve been some real, hard truths that have come out in my journal lately and I’m kind of freaked out because I don’t quite know what they mean for me going forward in this business. Yesterday, loneliness grabbed me by the throat and wouldn’t let up. I’ve become the quintessential hermit writer… I journaled my hand off sitting outside in the sunshine, listening to some music that I don’t usually listen to. I jotted down some titles that came to me for possible stories. I stared at the sky and enjoyed the sun on my skin. I went through the rest of my day and night the way I always do, figuring that loneliness was going to follow me around for a while until it worked its way through. Then, I woke up this morning and some ideas began to snake their way through my mind in a way that they hadn’t in longer than I could remember. And as I stayed there, playing that stupid game, the more clear the ideas became. (Yes, I am still feeling the loneliness, that didn’t go away.)
One of things I used to try and do with my books was make some part of them part of me or maybe it’s more some part of me part of them and after some things happened, I didn’t think I fit inside my own books anymore, that none of the stories were any part of me. Everything I tried writing felt fake and forced and not only did I feel it, but you did, too. It’s a lonely place. It’s a hard and dark place to be. The messages and noises and shoulds and shouldn’ts are all around and they’re loud and drown out all whispering inside the heart and soul.
I couldn’t hear the whispers. I could only hear the noise of write this, no not that; jump on this trend because you don’t want to miss this chance; you know, just make your books funny and hot; gangsters, bullies, reverse harems, high schools and academies, mafia… They’re all the rage. Or… Why not try… Quick release; don’t do what anyone else is doing; why aren’t you doing what she or she or she is doing because it clearly works; rapid releases like, weekly or every two weeks at the most, okay maybe three but that’s it, etc…
When I started out, I didn’t pay attention to what anyone else did, but we’re supposed to be social and talking and sharing and supporting and doing and coming and going… And you can’t help but notice everyone else’s sandboxes and how full they are of writing and friends and fans. The noise was all I heard. My own voice wasn’t strong enough, wasn’t loud enough and I couldn’t hear it anymore. Except… Except when I heard the expectations that I had of myself and those of my readers, the expectations that I no longer knew how to meet.
The ideas I had this morning? They’re precious pieces of thoughts and pains and traumas and things I never thought I’d write about, but they’re me, they’re part of me and I’ve been trying so damn hard to get back to something, anything that felt like me, that felt like my voice, that felt like who I am now, that felt like who I am becoming, that felt authentic. I’m a little freaked out and a little scared, but I think I’ve found this year’s NaNoWriMo project.
It’s hard to write bogs or social media posts and think or believe or whatever that no one is reading them. Hell, it’s hard to write books and think or believe or whatever that no one will buy them, but that’s a discussion for another day.
However, I miss blogging. I loved it. It was writing and I loved writing. Long winded writing most of the time, but sometimes, it was just snippets of happenings. It was my avenue to share things that I liked or thought or cared about. Even on the days I dreaded it. Even on the days I was like… Well, fuck. What do I write about? I loved it. I loved being part of a group blog and I loved blogging solo. Blogging was more than a sound bite or a clicky headline. Blogging to me was…love.
Now, I was never good with the keyword stacking and SEO and getting my blogs to rank on Google or Bing or Yahoo. I never really cared, either. All I cared about was it was my way to connect with the people who liked me and liked my books, who liked what I had to say at any given moment about any given subject. And I was thinking the other day about the epic giveaways I had on my birthday or at Christmas. KitchenAid mixers, Keurigs, cookbooks, fiction books, Kindles, etc… I loved it all. And I miss it. I really fucking miss it.
Blogging is going or has already gone the way of the dinosaurs. Unless one already has a really well established audience, blogging as an individual is no longer relevant. Bloggers and readers migrated over to Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or some other platform. But I have to be honest here… I’ve spent my fair share of time on Facebook (hate it), Twitter (just so much drama and people telling other people what to think, do, read, write, etc…), Instagram (comparisonitis is really prevalent, but I do enjoy Instagram and spend way too much time there). There are others, too, that I honestly haven’t investigated because time, time, time…
I also got lost in what am I supposed to say on my Facebook profile vs my Facebook page vs my Facebook group vs my newsletter vs my blog vs my Twitter feed vs my Instagram feed vs my Instagram stories vs… See what I mean? I just don’t have that much content or brain space or… And so, I pretty much just… Yeah.
But back to this post… I miss blogging. I miss the writing and the talking to y’all whoever y’all happened to be at the time. One person or twenty. I miss y’all and I miss this platform because it’s mine. This platfom is all MINE. Even with all the social media pages and profiles and feeds and stories and whatnot, I always go to someone’s website. I always look at someone’s pages and blog posts because I want to know them, the them that gets watered down through the variety of social media posts. I read newsletters, too, but truth be told, I have more than 1000 unread emails piled up over the last year that are primarily newsletters. I don’t always read them when they come in. They get lost in the shuffle because some people send out newsletters every single freakin’ day. Some I’ve been subscribed to send out more than one a day and it’s like…OMFG STOP!
I think though, even if no one reads my blog posts, I’m going to start blogging again. Blogs, to me, are more intimate than social media, like a conversation or a letter among friends. I know they say newsletters are supposed to be like that, but honestly, I haven’t hit my newsletter stride yet, because reasons… I’ll come back to that one on another day, too.
If you read this, feel free to say hi. If you don’t read this, well, that’s your loss.
Until next time (probably tomorrow or one day later this week)
The day after Christmas, the spouse and I took a road trip to Black Mountain, North Carolina for research. I had been studying the area a bit online and through social media as a possible setting for the relocation of my (former) Black and White series of bear shifters. Y’all remember Gus and Bex, right? 😉
Before I made a decision though, I wanted to see the town and the mountains surrounding it. We got there and I FELL IN LOVE! FELL. IN. LOOOOOOOOVE! It was the most picture perfect small town at the base of the Black Mountain subrange which is part of the larger Appalachian Mountain Range. The Black Mountains contain the highest peak east of the Mississippi, Mount Mitchell.
I’ve added pictures here of the town of Black Mountain and the mountains themselves so you can get an idea of where I’ll be setting the series later this year. I’ll be rewriting it as there are many elements from the Southern Shifters series by Eliza Gayle that I’ll have to remove, including her character Luke. But I’ll go into more detail about all that later. For now, enjoy the pictures…
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!
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.