In less than a week, my publisher, Booktrope, will officially close its doors. For the past few weeks, I have been receiving all sorts of emails regarding downloading important documents from the site, settling with creative teams, how our final royalties will be paid, formal disclosures about our rights reverting to the authors, and so on. The latest message I’ve received informed us about our books being removed from various distribution channels.
It has been, and still is, difficult to sit and watch this process, knowing there is nothing I can do to stop it. It is painful seeing my dream of being a published author fulfilled and then watching it go up in smoke. To be honest, it has been difficult seeing some of my fellow Booktrope authors pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and move right along as though this were nothing. I’m sure they’re still reeling as much as I am, but being more experienced, more confident, or maybe just more talented than I am, they were able to shake it off more quickly.
Where am I? Well, I guess it depends when you ask me. I can tell you one thing right now, and I guarantee that five minutes from now, or five hours from now, or five days from now (especially five days from now, when this will almost be a done deal), I will give you a different answer. I can tell you that there is a huge part of me that says, “Just give it up. You were never meant to be a successful author, and it’s a miracle you even got this far. Stop wasting time, money, and energy on something you weren’t meant to have.” Part of me says that, and there is a part of me that agrees with that sentiment. In a lot of ways, it makes sense to just quit while I’m ahead. It was fun while it lasted, but now it’s time to put my grown-up pants on and stop dreaming. This is my self-preservation side, and Self-Preservation Side has a very loud voice.
But there is another part of me that can be just as loud. This is my dreamer side. Dreamer Side answers Self-Preservation Side by saying, “This is just part of the journey. You are a writer; you were always meant to be a writer. Don’t let this define you. The failure isn’t yours; it is Booktrope’s. Listen. Listen to your soul. Can’t you hear all those characters clamoring inside you? You haven’t told their stories yet. Just because you can’t see more of the road in front of you doesn’t mean the road isn’t there. Just go one step at a time, and the path will open up.”
You know what’s the hardest right now? The fact that I know both sides are speaking truth. I have a choice to make, and in reality, neither path is easier. There will be struggles and pain and failures and hard decisions to make no matter which path I choose. And admittedly, there will be triumph and joy and success and moments where I know I’ve made the right decision no matter which path I choose.
Deep down inside, I believe I know which path I’m going to take. Dreaming big is ingrained in my personality. Unfortunately, so is fear. But I do know one thing. The fear of regret is much stronger in me than the fear of failure. There have been so many times in the past where I have not followed through with something I wanted because I was afraid, because I couldn’t see the outcome, because someone told me it was a stupid idea, and I stand in the road looking back saying, “What if? What if I’d followed my heart? Where might I be?”
I am a writer. I am a creator of stories. It is not up to me whether or not I will become a famous million-selling author, but it is up to me whether I tell my stories or let them die within me.
For the past few days, a line from Frank Stallone’s song “Far From Over” from the movie Staying Alive has been popping into my head every time I feel like giving up. “I am down, but I am far from over.” I want to believe that. I have to believe that.
So, onward and upward.