Monday, March 24, 2014

Behind the Scenes of Publishing with JC: On Bravery

Welcome to the first edition of a new monthly feature here on Indie Ignites: Behind the Scenes of Publishing with JC. Expect to see some more cool stuff from our awesome contributors in the coming months. We're working on revamping the blog in ways that encourage us to get you better content more often.

This feature is where JC talks about her experiences in publishing and all that entails. Everything from writing to becoming a full-time author, you'll get an exclusive peek into JC's adventures, and hopefully, you'll learn something along the way. Or at the very least, you might find yourself laughing at her ridiculousness. Because with JC, that's kind of a given. And now that you've listened to JC me talk about herself myself in the third person long enough-- here it is.

Today is my first official day as a full-time author. So far, it's simultaneously terrifying and wonderful. Last night, I set my alarm for a reasonable hour and read myself to sleep with the knowledge that I had nowhere to be today. Only, that's not exactly true. I had to be here today.

But it was glorious to wake up knowing that beginning with today, I don't have to be anywhere else but here on any given day if I don't want to be. For at least the next ten months. Today might just be another item for me to check-off on my long list of goals; but it's taken me years to get here. And now that I've realized this dream, I'm going to fight like hell so I don't have to figure out a Plan B.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's take a look back at how I got here. Years ago, I was a legal secretary, living in New Orleans, Louisiana. I had a great little rental house. I barbecued about twice a week (even in winter) and kept a decent stock of Corona on-hand at all times. I stretched my budget to pay my bills and have a little left over. I didn't take vacations, nor did I get to fly home to see my family very often. I had all the things that adults work hard for, and they should appreciate. But I hated every second of it-- the legal assisting, I mean.

I started writing and didn't stop. I learned some things about the craft (I'm still learning), and discovered that the times I was most happy was when I was in my own book or someone else's. So when the offer came, from my mother, to move back home (what can I say, she missed me) so I could finish my degree, I thought it over. For about five seconds.

And then I started packing for California.

Every move I've made since then has been geared towards becoming a published author. I rode the bus, lived very minimally, forewent dating, turned down job offers, sacrificed a social life, and figured out how to live with virtually zero safety net. Granted, I made the choice to focus on myself before I would even consider having a family, so I didn't have to worry about anyone else. I let people tell my mother that I needed to grow up and move out. I bit my tongue when my extended family wondered why I wasn't working a full-time job, and if I'd ever become a "real" adult. And I excused myself early from first dates when the man across from me expressed that they thought being a writer wasn't a career choice, but a stupid fantasy. This time next year my BtSoP post might be on my Plan B and standing up in the face of your own failures. But that's not what this post is about.

This post is about bravery.

I've had the incredible pleasure of meeting and befriending some great authors over the years, several of whom contribute to this blog. One thing I hear a lot is about how publishing is scary-- and no doubt, it really is-- and how they're not sure if they can do it. I hear everything from how getting an agent is too hard to how self-publishing is too terrifying to consider. But that's the fear talking. We writers make everything into a much bigger deal than it needs to be. It's probably the fact that we're trained to take a single idea and stretch it out into a full-length novel. We do the same thing with our fears of publishing-- we stretch them out until they appear to be a hill that's too steep to climb, but that's simply the drama queen coming out. [adjusts crown]

The best advice I can give anyone is this: list the top five things you fear, and then do them. Be brave. Expect more of yourself.

It all sounds so lofty, but it's really not. Start small by creating a checklist of the things you need to do to get your book from wherever it is to where you want it to be. Then tackle everything line by line. Don't even look at the item below the one you're working on. I can only talk about self-publishing, so of course, seeking traditional publication is a slightly different process. But my advice remains: be brave.

Whatever being brave means for you-- do it. For some it will mean being selfish enough to demand scheduled writing time, and for others it will mean writing the story they've always wanted to read, but were afraid to tell. Going through life giving yourself roadblocks to your dreams does not serve you in any way. Maybe your journey won't take you on such an extreme, focused path, and that's okay. Being brave isn't about following my path or anyone else's. It's about figuring out exactly what you want and forging your own path, and refusing to let your fear get the best of you. Fear can be exhilarating if you embrace it. Yeah, I'm channeling Thoreau with a splash of Veronica Roth.

And for a little inspiration, here's the song that got me thinking about bravery and what it means in my daily life.

What does bravery mean to you and how can you be braver in your daily life?