This post was originally written after I decided to self-publish, but before I had actually released my first self-pubbed title, Open Minds.
I used to worry about encouraging my children, who like to write novels and dance Hip Hop, in their artistic leanings. But in the last six months, I've grown less worried about my children's forays into the creative arts and more concerned about all the children who don't. I've become less anxious that my risk-taking - in choosing to write children's novels rather than get a job with a paycheck - is some kind of foolhardiness that I will regret.
In fact, I've grown in my confidence that not only is taking the road less traveled a wise choice for me, it may in fact be the only real choice. There's a feeling of rightness, an intuition-approval bliss-feeling, that comes when you've made a choice that's right for you. I believe it has something to do with integrity, in the sense that all the disparate pieces of you are integrated and heading in the same direction.
Where did this come from?
Sampling the Cloud
I've been reading a lot of blogs, talking to a lot of people, and reading books about changes in the publishing industry. I've been examining people that are successful, trying to discern what makes them unique. I think of the knowledge base of human experience like an amorphous cloud, shifting and gusting around, changing from minute to minute. You can easily get lost in the cloud, and it can drive you a bit crazy. But I've been trying to take large snapshots to find patterns and learn from them.
From this I've discerned a couple things: 1) people who are successful aren't successful because they've divined the secret code. They're successful because they made their own code, and 2) Their own code is an expression of the type of person they are, fully embraced and carried forward into the world with confidence.
John Locke is a savvy sales guy who made a bucket load of money selling books the same way he sold insurance. Could I possibly succeed this way? No more than I could sell insurance (which is to say NO).
HP Mallory is enthusiastic, cute, and fun, and has sold a lot of books by being ... enthusiastic, cute, and fun. And attracting readers who enjoy that (and her). Could I be that cute and whimsical? I have my moments, but that's not the main thing that drives me.
My path to success will be different from theirs, and only by embracing who I am, making up my own code for success, will I find it. This is the very definition of traveling your own road, but like the Room of Requirement, you will only find it when you go forward with confidence in what you need.
Confidence as a Writer
At the same time, I've been working this summer on a side project (not listed on my WiP page) that's been kept under wraps, mainly because I wasn't sure what would become of it. Still not sure, but my part is done and it's launched off. We'll see if that baby bird can fly or not (I'll be sure to let you know if it does). But in the process, I collaborated with some excellent writers and gained some serious insights into my writing: what I do well, how far I can stretch, where my weaknesses are. Knowing your weaknesses makes you stronger, not weaker, and all that self-knowledge has helped me gain confidence in my writerly skills.
Confidence to tromp down that path, even if I'm the first one to travel it in exactly my way. Confidence that my path is not only an acceptable way to go about things, it is probably the best way for me.
Because that's the kind of person I am.
So, my 8 year old son Mighty Mite is not only taking Hip Hop, we've added Voice lessons to his creative outlets (he also wants to take acting classes). My 13 year old son Dark Omen is hard at work on the sequel of his novel, and my 11 year old son Worm Burner has decided that he's a fan of both C++ programming and Shakespeare.
I'm not worried about these explorations anymore. I know they are following their own paths, ones that are expressions of who they are, and I'm grateful that they feel free to tell me, "Mom, I want to try this."
After all, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
Two self-published novels and about 8 months later, it's wonderful to look back on posts like this, remembering my prior self perched on the edge of taking that leap, full of confidence and trepidation, excitement and (on some days) terror. That less-traveled road proved to be exactly where I should go, but I didn't end up going there alone. My fellow journeying indie authors The Indelibles made the bumps smoother and the way full of camaraderie. My confidence has only grown stronger through my experience, and whereas before the decision felt right, now I have hard data (in the form of reviews and fans and sales) that show this was a good decision for my writing career. Once I made my own code - my expression of who I was - and carried it forward with confidence, it took me just where I was supposed to go.
There was no way for me to know ahead of time that I would end up in a bountiful garden instead of a swamp. That's the essence of taking the road less traveled. It's a risk. There's no guarantee. But if I'd ended up in the swamp, I would have picked myself up, brushed off the muck, and kept going forward anyway. You see, hacking through the bushes into unknown territory is exactly what I was meant to do, after all. I'm the kind of person that likes to get there first and call over my shoulder to my friends, "It's bright and sunny over here! Come check it out!"
Knowing that about myself is the greatest reward to come out of this journey so far.
(And I'm not done yet.) :)
Closed Hearts (Mindjack #2)
When you control minds,
only your heart can be used against you.
Susan Kaye Quinn is the author of the bestselling YA novel Open Minds, Book One of the Mindjack Trilogy, which is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iTunes. The sequel Closed Hearts has just been released. Susan's business card says "Author and Rocket Scientist," but she mostly plays on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.
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