Hello, World. It’s Me. I’m an Author. (Please Love Me.)
Embracing Discomfort, Seeking Connection
It turns out that trying to be a successful author requires a lot of self-promotion, whether you self-publish, traditionally publish, or go through a small press. This is one aspect of writing I’ve always struggled with because asking for things from other people is just so… uncomfortable.
(Unless you are my little brother or husband, for some reason. Then I have no problem asking you to get me a drink of water, fix me a snack, bring me something from the other room, run to the grocery store in the middle of the night, fly to Hawaii to buy a box of chocolate-covered macadamia nuts, etc. However, since only three people fit into those specific categories, that still leaves most of the world that I feel awkward asking to do even the most basic of favors.)
Asking people to buy your book, to tell other people about it, to post reviews, and so forth, feels even a step above that level of general discomfort.
If asking for help normally feels like, say, pulling teeth, asking people to help you achieve your dream feels like pulling teeth with a pair of pliers and no anesthetic while simultaneously giving an impromptu speech on the history of irrigation, and you’re in your underwear.
That might sound like an exaggeration, but it really isn’t. It’s UNCOMFORTABLE.
As many wise people have often noted, however, discomfort is necessary for personal growth. Without it, we would all remain stagnant. Nothing worth having was ever gained easily. And dreams remain only fantasies without the struggle and effort to achieve them (a phenomenon also known as “the Climb” by one of the great philosophers of our time, Miley Cyrus).
While it’s well-known that discomfort can stimulate personal growth, I’ve also found that it can promote interpersonal growth, too. One of my struggles in life has been allowing myself to be vulnerable with others, to have the hard conversations, and to let relationships (with friends, with family members, with romantic partners) sometimes be uncomfortable.
I am both a middle child and a natural born people pleaser; I want everyone to get along, and I also want everyone to be impressed with how many words I can spell! (that one might be more specific to me, but I feel like other middle children might have this issue, too). I don’t like to be weak, or imperfect, to argue or say the wrong things, and so sometimes I err on the side of playing things safe.
But relationships, much like people, can’t flourish if you refuse to take chances, dig deeper, and risk failure.
What does this have to do with self-promotion or writing? I promise this all ties together. (Well, at least I hope it does…)
Like many adults, and maybe especially as a mom, I’ve struggled with making new friends. Part of the problem is likely because I made so many great friends when I was younger and those connections came more naturally–through school, through work, through intensive clown college training–than they do in your older years when your life starts to revolve more around those connections that have already been formed.
With friends located around the world, I already feel an immense amount of guilt for not keeping up those relationships like I should, what with so many grownup responsibilities getting in the way. (Ugh, work. Ugh, motherhood–kidding, that one is great, but it’s also time-consuming, no?) So how could I possibly make NEW friendships, right?
I could also, maybe reasonably, blame COVID for this difficulty in connecting with others. It’s hard to make new friends when you’re generally trying to avoid public places where you could potentially meet people.
Even before COVID, though, connecting with new people has been a struggle. I’m living in a place where I never expected to live long-term, far away from family and lifelong friends. I’ve met some wonderful people here, but maybe for the reasons listed above, or maybe because I’ve been subconsciously avoiding putting down roots, I feel myself keeping interactions at a superficial level:
Not reaching out when I should, not trying for deeper friendships. In short, avoiding discomfort in favor of comfort and stagnancy.
That’s why my New Year’s Resolution for 2022 was/is “Connection.” To avoid making a bunch of random resolutions that will never hold (‘cuz let’s be honest, there are a lot of things I could be doing better at), I try to choose a theme for each year and choose individual goals that will help me get there. Thus, for 2022, I’ve decided it’s time to stop avoiding discomfort and to seek real and deep bonds and relationships with people again.
Publishing my debut novel in 2022 was originally not a part of this “Connection” goal. Now that I am six days away from my release date, though, I can see how much pursuing this long-time dream of mine has required me to step outside of my comfort zone.
Instead of vaguely referencing my writing “hobby” (or not mentioning it all) to people I know, I am very publicly putting myself out into the world. I am emailing bloggers and reviewers, writing posts and answering interview questions for a blog tour, and even posting on social media after a very long self-imposed absence.
Instead of writing stories that no one but myself and maybe a handful of other readers will ever see, I’m making that work available for anyone who wants to read it. I am opening myself up to criticism, but also to compliments, and I honestly don’t know which one is more terrifying. I am risking that no one might actually read this book, or that lots of people could–and again, both are really scary options.
Being a writer all these years, I’ve come to realize, wasn’t really outside of my comfort zone, because I could control who saw what and when. My stories were entirely my own.
Being a published author is a step into the dark. I am giving up that control. I am risking failure. I am asking people to support me and I’m afraid that I’m being annoying. I am UNCOMFORTABLE.
But even if only one person reads my book and likes it, that will be a connection I didn’t have before. Don’t get me wrong–I’d love to be one of those awesome, amazing success stories and get to quit my day job and make a bazillion dollars being a full-time writer and move to a castle (okay, this daydream is getting a little away from me, time to rein it in). I know that ultimately, though, this scenario isn’t likely.
It’s notable, however, that my goal for this year is not ‘Success’ — it is ‘Connection.’ The connection, the growth, the vulnerability–that is what this journey is about. So if I need to wade through a little (a LOT) of discomfort to get there, so be it.
I hope, if you’re interested, that you’ll read my book. I hope you’ll love it. I hope that if you do, you’ll let me know. Please bear with me if I’m weird about it. I’m really looking forward to connecting with you–I’m just a little out of practice.
What would happen if you combined all of Jane Austen’s characters into one modern-day novel?
Murder, of course.
When Caty Morland’s roommate, Isabella, falls to her death on Initiation night, Austen University is quick to cover up the scandal and call it a tragic accident. But avid true-crime lover Caty remains convinced that Isabella didn’t fall; she was murdered. With the help of Pi Kappa Sigma President Emma Woodhouse, Caty organizes a dinner party with the most likely suspects, including familiar faces such as Darcy, Elizabeth Bennet, Knightley, and Marianne Dashwood. The theme of the night is murder, and Caty has three courses to find out what happened to Isabella — and to try to keep the killer from striking again.