I’ve been looking into my own psyche lately. (Yeah, I know. Pretty scary with all the Faith/Jane/Beast/Thorn/Gwen/murder/battle/mayhem/rapids/dead-body/scary-muse stuff that lurks there. But I’m trying to be brave.) I’ve been looking inside where the future of my writing life skulks, where my expectations prowl. Or slumber, maybe. What do I expect—what do I really believe will happen with my own writing future?
Do I really believe that I can write? (There lie dragons…) Do I really believe that I can build a growing audience? Do I really believe that I will earn a 7 figure advance someday? Do I really believe that I will be a bestseller someday? Do I really believe that I have a book inside me that will be like a tsunami on the reading world? Or do I believe that I will muddle about in the shallow waters of near-obscurity, make a few small splashing waves, and then sink below the surface of the publishing business, to be forgotten? What do I really *believe* about myself…? And how does that belief shape my own writing future?
I’ve been asking my writing pals what they believed about their futures when they started out. And I’ve gotten some really interesting answers. Answers that point into the soul of us all.
One said, “I want to get another book published. That’s all. It’s always just one more book.”
One said, “I’m hoping to be a bestseller in a couple more years.”
One writer pal said, “I’m a firm mid-lister.”
One said, “I’m in the middle of remaking myself from a mid-lister into who I really am. I’m going to be on Oprah soon. You watch.”
I asked a bestseller writer buddy what she expected when started out. And she said, “I knew I’d be at the top.” It wasn’t arrogance or conceit. It was the most firm self-confidence I’ve ever seen. Wow. Just wow.
And suddenly I realized. This is what makes a long-time, successful writer. Unshakeable self-belief. And that understanding rocked me. Because I don’t have it. I am still trying to deal with what I learned that day. Still trying to see what I might do with that understanding that will/might/could change me inside and let me grow.
When I started this business, I had two images of myself and my future:
Nowhere in there, in those expectations, was there a vision of myself as a bestseller with four feet of backlist shelf space in every bookstore in the nation. Nowhere in there was the possibility of fabulous success. Was I being sensible? Or have I…(deep breath) have I shackled myself?
I do not know. I do not know if I am master of my own vessel (USS Firm Mid-Lister) by my own expectations or if the market made me what I am and I flounder in the wake of others by no fault of my own. And I do not know if I can take the wheel of my own future in my hands and steer myself into new waters, into something fresh and exciting, bigger and better.
But I do know that in some arcane way, our beliefs shape and steer and guide and power us. And so, knowing that, I have to change my self beliefs. I have to rework my own brain if I want to make it in this fast-changing business. My neurons have to be rewired for success. So, I peer into depths of my own psyche and say, “Hey, you! What do you believe? Can you do it? Can you be a real writer? Can you envision a future of great things for yourself? Can you be a success?”
So far? A soft, hesitant…”Um..yeah? Um..Maybe?”