Thursday, April 24, 2014

Behind the Scenes of Publishing with JC: On Stress

Welcome to the second 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.

I debated whether or not to talk about this because it’s a little more personal than I like to get. I want to keep my posts relevant to what’s going on in my life as well as informative and potentially helpful for writers who have found themselves in a similar situation.
Those closest to me are aware that I’ve been under a massive amount of stress the last few months. Everything from travel to moving to starting back with classes to dropping classes to quitting a job to dealing with the repercussions of quitting said job to classroom issues to book issues to… everything.
And… I haven’t always handled it so well. I have probably been more frustrated, more upset, and more determined to get something done in the last month than I have in my entire life. And still, most days it seems like nothing is getting done. New issues are constantly popping up, and I’m being sent on another wild goose chase, and next thing I know it’s two hours later. And that’s two hours of my day that could have gone to doing what was actually on my to-do list instead of whatever the latest emergency is that’s cropped up. But it doesn’t matter because it’s already happened and I just need to move forward, right?
Only, that’s not what’s been happening half the time.
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t deal well with certain stressors. My brain shuts down and I get to a point where I can’t even process what I’m doing in that moment let alone what I should be doing instead. When I reach that breaking point it’s usually after someone’s asked me, “How’s that book coming along?”
Um. Would I have crazy-eyes if it was going well, Mom? Really, would I?
I don’t know how other indie authors or small business owners’ deal with the stress and expectations of running their own career, but I’d love some tips. Because right now, I’m in the trenches and I’m running out of supplies to keep me alive for the foreseeable future. Right now, I’m so far behind on my current project, that’s already past due, that I’m not even sure how much I care anymore. Emotionally, mentally, and almost physically, I’m giving up. I want to throw my hands in the air and say, “I give up!” to the entire world. But I won’t.

I don’t believe that it serves us in any way to give up. The greatest stories aren’t written about those who quit when the going gets too tough. It’s about the people who power through regardless of their obstacles. Classic adventure story structure calls for the hero to feel defeated at some point, but never to actually be defeated. The hero must rebound and realize that their journey is important and that the journey can’t be completed without them. Heck, even the sidekick doesn’t throw in the towel, and if Samwise Gamgee can accompany Frodo into the heart of Mount Doom and not ditch him, then I have zero excuse for admitting defeat.
While it feels like my life has been put into a blender that’s set to “crush”, I know that this will pass. Eventually, this class will end, the book will be finished, and every other petty issue will be resolved. What I try to remind myself every day is that I’m truly lucky to be blessed with these problems. I have a wonderful family, great friends, awesome career, killer sense of humor, adorable cats, a working Kindle, food on my table, and clothes on my back. I will work through this and I’ll figure out how to manage my stress better at some point. For now I’m giving myself permission to cry in the shower, eat too much candy, stay awake until 6 and then sleep until noon, and to be utterly selfish with my time. As fantastic as my support system is, none of them can take care of me as well as I can. If I’m not good to myself, then I can’t be good to anyone else—and this past month proves that. By allowing all of my stress to build up and to feel insurmountable, I’m telling myself that I’m not worth more respect.
Treating yourself well is respecting yourself. It sounds silly and simple, but it’s the truth. I’m going to be spending the next several days working as hard as I possibly can to finish this book and to keep up with my other commitments. But if something comes up and my efforts are suspended or delayed as they have been so many times these last few weeks, I’m going to try very hard to take a deep breath, tackle what I can, and let go of the guilt if I don’t finish it all.
If there’s one message I want my fellow authors and neurotics to take away from this post is this: you, and all that includes, is the most important project you’ll ever have to work on. There is only one deadline that is truly non-negotiable in life and that’s death. Everything else is subject to change. Don’t go making everything into something more important than it actually is. Love what you do and work hard at it, but recognize your own limitations. Accept that you’re not superhuman and during a breakdown you might end up watching a Duck Dynasty marathon unless your backside goes numb. Keep in mind that in the grand scheme of things, all of this stuff is petty and what really matters is how people remember you.
I try to live every day in a way that if it’s my last, then I’ll be okay with that because I enjoyed my life. Looking back on the past month, I don’t like what I see. I see a lot of misery, and anguish, and even some desperation over my life’s passion. And that is absolutely not okay. So something obviously needs to change over here, but it’s not an immediate fix to re-program your brain into not stressing about things that feel important. Evolution is a slow process, and that’s okay. Life will always throw us curveballs and we just have to do the best we can.
In the immortal words of Dr. Seuss, “Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

No comments:

Post a Comment