My New Year’s-ish Post

For the most part, in general, I’m a mess. Oh, I make it look easy on the outside. But truly, underneath the cool, calm, collected exterior is a scramble of Flintstone car proportions. Let me explain.

In accordance with one of my goals this year, I am keeping up with updating my website, social media, posts and all of that jazz a little better. In accordance with my bad habits, I am a day late for the new year’s post.

You can’t go to A+ student overnight.

So goals, yeah…

Like I said, I make them. I’m a big goal setter. I don’t reach them all right away. This goal in particular has been on the list a few times. I’m sure it will be on the list again. I’m sure I will always fall short. I’m okay with that, though.

And that…falling short, and being okay with it…is another goal this year. In fact, I think this is its first appearance, at least formally, on my goals list. And I’m sure I’ll fall short with it as well, but just putting it there, and acknowledging the fact that some things are just going to have to wait, some other things might not be in the cards, and yet others might come in different ways…this is huge for me. It’s a mental relief – letting go of a burden that screws with my emotions. And I know it will take the full year just to make a dent.

I’m pretty open about talking about my anxieties. I’ve come to learn that anxiety is almost a requirement in the writing world. Maybe you have to have a certain mental tilt to be able to imagine the worlds us writer types create. Whatever it is, my anxieties have had a direct link to my disappointments for years. I think the first time I had a pretty major, full-on panic attack, I was 17 and studying for an AP history exam in high school. A lot of things in school came easy to me, but for whatever reason, history and government didn’t stick. I had to work hard at it, boiling things down, my brain’s inclination to soak up the minutia and miss the big picture. I didn’t score enough to earn the early college credit, and the whole process made me sick with self-disappointment. Looking back through a wiser (aka older) perspective, that class and those credits didn’t matter a lick to the person I was working to become, and certainly not to the person I became. This wisdom didn’t make me any better at failing at things gracefully though, and coping with the impending disappointment.

So, in the spirit of the season, I’m making my first blog post of the year a top-5 list. This is going to be brutal and honest about myself. It’s gonna show some of my ugly parts. It’s a list of my biggest personal disappointments or flaws or frustrations that I’m either going to do something about, or let go, because in the grand scheme of things – this stuff doesn’t matter a lick. It’s all just one big AP history exam.

  1. I cannot put USA Today or NY Times bestseller on a book. It makes my stomach hurt I want it so bad even though it doesn’t really matter. It’s pretty much proven. Readers don’t really care. I still want it, though. If it ever happens, I will cry. A lot. Happy cry. It’s one of those things I’ve dreamt about since I saw the superlative on a King book when I was 12 or 13. I make a living doing something I love, and 99.9 percent of the time that is bliss–it’s enough. But damn that .1 percent. It’s a sense of legitimacy perhaps. It’s an Oscar. It’s the writer equivalent to “bottom of the ninth, two outs, bases loaded, Ginger steps up to the plate.” I’m not going to be able to let this one go. Believe me, I’ve tried. The fantasy creeps right back in. I am, however, going to do something about it. I’m going to write my ass off. Because that’s the only thing I can control. And while it might not happen this year, some year, in the future history of those two media empires, one of them will put a book of mine on a list. And even if I’m 80, you’re all invited to the party.
  2. Trucker hats. Not for my head. I know this seems frivolous and like it doesn’t belong here, but you haven’t seen the collection I’ve accumulated and never worn in public because…it’s not a good look on me. I’m letting this one go.
  3. Here’s a biggie for me–my local indie bookstore doesn’t really make indie authors feel super welcome. It’s ironic, I think. And hypocritical for certain. I won’t say the name because I don’t want to be mean, but I’ve made a few attempts over the last five years to do an event there, put books there, be a part of annual teen events, etc. I usually don’t even get a response. Once I tried to set up an event for charity, and that got strung along for months and eventually I had to go a different route. This store very much still sees a line between books published traditionally and those published independently. Yes, I can consign books there, buy my shelf space, and rent a room for something, but I really would have loved to have been included in the teen day the year I put The Hard Count out. I think a book about racism in high schools is the kind of thing our youth needs, regardless of the method the words appeared on paper. I could go on and on about this because of everything, the subtle “shun” here hurts the most. It’s because this store is sooooo me. I look like I belong in the space. I am their vibe, and I have personally run my fingertips along book spines on their shelves. The love affair started in college. This is one of those things I’m going to have to change expectations on though. I’m not going to let it go. I’m going to chip away and change THEIR perspective. I’m going to work my ass off to educate them, with the help of some fellow local indie authors. And I’m going to be vocal, but kind, when I think they’re missing the point and perhaps missing out on some really hard working authors. This one, I will kill with kindness…and an overload of information and persistence.
  4. I don’t know how to say no. This has been a lifelong problem. I can’t say no to myself. I can’t say no to friends. I can’t say no to acquaintances who I just want to help with a favor. I don’t think it’s all bad. I actually like trying to do what I can whenever and wherever, but…sometimes, I can’t. Or rather…I shouldn’t. I overextend myself, and that has led to a year teetering on exhaustion. This one, I’m easing into letting go of. Sometimes, I am just going to have to say “maybe” instead.
  5. The traditional deal. I don’t have much to say here. It’s a lingering want, a past disappointment, a fear, a future ambition, an ultimate, and so many other things that intertwine with the first four items on this list. (Ok, maybe not with trucker hats.) Right up there with a signing at X book store and a book on a list is getting a deal with a big publisher. This one for me is less about that stamp of approval. It’s about seeing my book on a shelf in a major retailer where teenagers can discover it. Above all, my YA books are the kind I craved more of when I was a teen. I write the kind of stories that I wished were there, and I just know in my heart of hearts there are girls out there like me who want to find them but can’t because they aren’t on shelves. Teens love print. I love that they love print. This one…I’m never giving up on.

There it is. My list. The things in my head I don’t talk about much because I don’t want to seem self-absorbed or whiney or ungrateful. I’m not, I swear. I look at what I’ve had happen over five years and I cannot believe I have been allowed a seat on this ride. But just like Disneyland, I’m expanding the park of my self-expectations. I’m going to phase out the rides that aren’t working and add in a dash of Marvel and Pixar. I don’t really know where I’m going with this analogy, but it seemed too good to abandon. I hope you get it. Beyond any of this, my readers will always come first. Fact is, I need you. Without you, there is no list.

All there is are fucking trucker hats.