Clearly I am not on the top of my game right now.
Or am I?
Because actually... I kind of am!!!
On like a personal level anyway. :)
See, here's the thing. I've been indie publishing for a little over four years. My exact anniversary date is in March, but I didn't really start selling books until August.
Anyway. Ever since I published my first book, I have been trapped in a world of chaos.
It's like, I pressed the publish button and stepped into a savage vortex of constant demand and endless deadlines.
And, if we're being honest, I love it. I love this vortex. I love the loud, pushy demands. I love the never ending deadlines that I cannot seem to meet to save my life. I love that my world is crazy and messy and a constant outpouring of myself. It's kids and a husband and good good friends and dirty dishes and mountains of laundry and errands and groceries that never seem to be enough and words... beautiful words that come from my soul and stretch me and grow me and demand even more from me.
I love it. Because I love my job.
Even if it's true chaos.
When I published Reckless Magic, I had three little kids. My baby was only a few months old and my oldest child was only four. (There was a two year old in the middle, in case you were wondering where the third one fit!) I wrote and published Endless Magic while I was pregnant with my last child. And the truth of it is that I honestly thought I was publishing for them.
This might be my dream job, but it has always been a job I thought I could do seamlessly alongside motherhood.
I imagined that I would get to do whatever I wanted with the kiddos and write in all of those spare moments that are in such large supply. I mean, there's almost too many of them. Am I right?
While the kids napped, I pictured sitting down at my computer to churn out a few thousand words. Obviously, my kids would always nap perfectly and my house would always be in order. A healthy dinner would be planned and all of the ingredients already bought. After I tucked them in at night, I would return to my computer with storehouses of energy remaining from our super fun day and churn out a few thousand more words. Those words would always come easily. I would never get writer's block or need to research. And I would never need to use those late night hours for anything else. Like sleep. Then I would wake up at the blissful hour of sunrise and start it all over again.
Can you feel the sarcasm? It should be thick enough to reach through the internet and jump out of your computer screen.
Sorry if it scared you.
Obviously you know how this story goes, because you know motherhood is not like that. Not even a shadow of that.
Life is not like that. Not in any way shape or form.
Motherhood is the single most difficult thing I ever decided to take on and that's something when you consider that I also got married and am a writer.
I mean, really, am I some kind of
And this job? This job is NOTHING that simple. It is endless hours. I mean the kind of hours that literally never end.
I remember this moment in time. I had just published Endless Magic and I was pregnant and exhausted. We had decided to move that summer. So I had to box up a house of five in the blistering heat while I was about to give birth to my FOURTH child. It was
I was at my wits end. And so stressed I could cry at the drop of a hat. Although that could have been the hormones. Anyway, I sat down at my computer to finally get some words in after weeks of not having the time and I wanted to cry all over again. My workload was insurmountable. For that night. For that week. For the rest of my life.
I suddenly, very suddenly, realized that I didn't have a job... I had a career. Or I was trying to have one anyway.
The light bulb over my head went off and I realized my workload, this workload that felt too heavy for a mere mortal like myself, would never become less. I had work that went on forever. There was something I could always be doing. There was work enough to fill the entirety of every day for the rest of my life.
I can always be writing. Because I have enough book ideas in my head to fill my own library.
I can always be marketing. Because if I don't market for myself, nobody is going to read my books.
I can always be editing. And plotting. And networking. And Facebooking and Twittering and Instagraming and Pinteresting and Snapchatting and Tumblring and Blogging and Vlogging and the list goes on and on and on and on.
You get the picture.
Obviously there is a balance to be found. But the point is, I looked at the Star-Crossed Series, which I had just published, and had an epiphany. This was just the beginning.
Thank God for that.
I didn't want to be a one hit wonder. I had/have/will always have more stories to tell. That's just the way I am.
But the dream "job" I wanted, wasn't a job. It was a career. A career that would take more hours and time from my life than I was yet ready to give.
That was a good day when I realized all of that.
A good day and a terrifying day.
Fast forward four years and here I am. Fifteen full-length books published. Forty novellas. Two co-authored books. And one mash-up.
That's almost three million words in 1,460 days.
That's more than 2,000 words a day.
Actually 2,000/day seems very doable now. But hindsight is 20/20 and believe me when I say those words didn't happen over consistent, well-organized days.
This wasn't something I ever fit in during nap time. I fit nap time in during my work days.
I didn't spend every day playing with my children and being the best mom I could be. My kids know that "Just a sec" is the worst phrase in the entire world. They hate it more than broccoli and sitting still.
Their mom wasn't the perfect volunteer at school. Their mom couldn't even remember picture day or to send in field trip money.
These last four years, personally speaking, have been real and utter chaos.
My husband has suffered. My kids have suffered. I have suffered.
But you know what? It's been worth it.
Zach obviously believes that or we would have walked away from this a long time ago. And my kids might not realize it yet, but I cannot wait for the day when I get to tell them to go after their dreams.
No matter how impossible.
No matter how out of reach.
And then I will tell them this story and I pray that they get it.
Dreams take work. Hard work. Blood, sweat and tears kind of work. And you work and you work and you work until you reach those dreams, then you adjust, make new dreams and keep on working.
That's the good life.
Of course, I've already tried to tell them this story, but it's ended up with weird goals for the future.
I tell them they can be anything they want to be and it's translated into them wanting to be dogs.
My human children want to grow up to be animals.
Animals that they are currently afraid of, mind you.
Anyway, one day we will revisit this conversation and I just so look forward to that day.
The point I'm trying to make is that I have worked every day to get to this place that I'm at. This moment in time. This very spot.
And it's not even close to the place I want to get to by the end of it. But I'm at a different place now than when I first started.
It's a major
I started this marathon at a full sprint, and I just now feel like I have enough momentum to slow down to a more manageable pace.
Which is a good thing, since a person can only sprint for so long.
I'm thirsty. My legs are tired. I don't want to poop my pants.
Oh, sorry. My marathon analogies took a weird turn.
For the first time in four years, I feel caught up. I don't have mountains of work waiting for me. I don't have inboxes full of messages wondering when the next book in their fave series is going to come out.
Okay, I have some of those messages. Sorry Starbright fans. :)
But the majority of my work has leveled out. It's still endless, but not immediate.
Imagine me swiping the back of my hand over my super sweaty forehead.
That's where I'm at. (Also that's literally where I'm at. It's 100 degrees outside and I feel like I'm melting when I leave the house.)
I know that it's not like this for everyone. Most of my author friends have a very good balance in their lives. I respect them for that. Even though they still feel the pressure of the deadlines like I do, they didn't bury themselves with work and subsequently had to pay the consequences.
Like I did.
Three years ago, I lost all momentum from the Star-Crossed Series when I published a book that was not ready to be published. (The first edition of Starbright)
Three years ago, I buried myself alive by publishing the first book in four different series.
Two years ago- almost to the day- I published Love and Decay and was completely unprepared for the mayhem that would follow.
Today. Today, I finally feel caught up. The Star-Crossed Series is officially closed. The Siren Series is officially closed. Love and Decay is on break. And Reagan's arc is officially closed. I finally finally got to write The Five Stages of Falling in Love- a book I forced myself to wait almost two years to write after I had the initial idea. And yesterday... I finally finished updating ALL of the Love and Decay episodes that had been edited poorly. I formatted all of my books for print. And I put the Omnibuses together for Season Two and Season Three of L&D.
Like I said, BIG BREATH.
My To Do List got significantly shorter.
Please know that I am so aware I did that to myself. But man does it feel good to have all of that weight off my shoulders!
Those projects have been a constant source of anxiety and stress for so long. And now... now I don't have to worry about them anymore.
Starbright is the one exception, but I've decided to give myself a little space from it. I need to breathe a little. I need to work on new projects and think beyond the things that have been bogging me down for years.
I feel bad, because it's not really Starbright's fault. It's my fault. It's all of the other series that got to go first. It's the new projects that are demanding to be written.
It's a thousand other things. But it is not Seth and Stella. I cannot wait to write their conclusion. I cannot wait to get to the end of their journey.
But like I said, first, I get to start new things. I get to write new characters and new worlds and new beginnings. I get to write more adult contemp. I get to write Bet on Me and the continuation of Love and Decay.
I get to write things I am truly excited for because they are change... because I don't know every single detail about them yet and I'm just getting to know their complicated characters.
I get to write things that are so different than anything I've written yet.
And the writer in me thinks there is nothing like starting fresh.
It also means... maybe... hopefully... possibly... balance.
Every year I set major New Years goals. That's just the kind of person I am. I plan yearly goals, five year goals and ten year goals. And every New Years Day- or the week after it- I go over those goals to set new ones, tweak old ones and celebrate met ones.
Last year I set the goal of BALANCE. I need it in my life. I need it with my kids and my husband and my housework and my cooking and my eating and my friends and my family and most of all, I need it with my work.
Every day since I set that goal- or most days, because let's be honest, I'm human... and a very human human- has been baby steps towards reaching it.
Each day I try a little bit harder.
Each day I make a little more progress.
But it wasn't until I finished those major tasks that I actually felt like Balance could be within my reach.
Now, let's be real, I don't ever think I'll have this perfectly figured out. I don't ever think I'll be the Pinterest mom that has her
I'll also never be the stay at home mom with a house perfectly in order and a garden in her back yard. My laundry might have a schedule, but it will probably sit in the basket for as long as possible. My dinners will be mostly meal-planned, but my kids will still have to eat Chinese and pizza whenever I'm close to a deadline. And my hair... my hair will forever have gray outgrowth and split ends.
And my work? My work will always be fit in the middle of those places. My blogs will be written after my kiddos are asleep and the majority of my books will be typed in eight hour spurts while my mom graciously keeps tabs on the savages. Groceries will always be second place to daily word counts. And the only plant I seem to be able to grow is a yellow flower that grows in a Styrofoam cup next to my kitchen sink. My son planted it in Sunday school and the darn thing refuses to die no matter how many times I starve it and then flood it.
It's like a metaphor for my life.
So yes, I love this job. The gratefulness I have for it regularly brings me to tears. But it can be more than I can handle
I'm not naive enough to think I'll never get overwhelmed again. In fact, I'm expecting it. Probably tomorrow. :) But right now it feels good to be in this place. It feels right. It feels not-panic-attacky.
This job can be controlling, but I'm finally back in the driver's seat. I'm finally the one in control.
My kids are getting a fun summer. I've gotten to watch some Netflix with my husband. And I've had some amazing times with friends.
To put it simply, I have a life outside of work now.
I'm like a normal person again.
Nice. Big. Breath.