Twice in this past month, I have been reminded that the biggest hazard to my business as a writer is myself. To be more precise, it is my mental programming that is the problem. And it is something that I really need to remember.
What brought on the reminder that I have some shoddy mental programming (think mental virus and malware) was the fact that I have spiraled down into two very bad mental modes in the last thirty days--mental modes that have taken me over a week apiece to crawl out of. And both were brought on by stray comments by people who, well, really do not understand the current state of my business. (In fact, I am sure that neither one knows a damn thing about my business.)
The first mental mode was a nice deep depression. The second mode, well, I am going to use the term "violence and suicide" to describe it--it is something that I think my relatives will instantly understand because we all have it to varying degrees.
Both modes were brought about because someone made a random comment about the fact that perhaps because of the lack of income I am making as a writer that perhaps I should be looking for a regular job.
Now, my lack of income as a writer can be explained away by the fact that my business basically restarted just a year ago. While I have been freelancing off and on since 1984, I didn't start self-publishing (ebooks) until just a year ago. Yes, by that mark, my business is just a year old. And most of that first year, I was still attending the University of Colorado at Denver...my business was more of a back burner thing than it was a front line priority.
But the important part, which is being overlooked, is that it is doing better than I have ever done as a writer previous to this point. I am actually selling ebooks--not at a quick pace, but enourgh that I can see that what I need the most is more stock to sell.
And more stock to sell is exactly what I would lose if I throw in the towel at this point in time. Oh, I can still hack out the occasional short story, but what I really need is a novel or two, and some other major projects. Because all I currently have up are articles and short stories--I do not have anything longer than that.
Now, my regular readers know the reason why I will not be able to get anything longer up--the only work that I have experience in is restaurant and retail work--twenty years worth (oh, and a college newspaper job--but I did not major in journalism). The type of work that I am qualified for tends to be you are overworked and underpaid, and on call 24/7. Basically, they work you until you are too exhausted to do anything up, and ensure that you have to work until the day you die. (And they say that slavery is a thing of the past.)
I know logically that I am better off just taking the next few months to work on bigger projects (in fact, my production schedule is completely full until February...if not later). But emotionally, my mental programming says that I should listen to the bad advice and go back to flipping burgers...because short term money issues trump all long term plans, no matter how sound the long term plans are.
And I know that I am prone to walking away from my writing even in the best of times. Before I got into restaurant management, I had actually started to get hand-written rejection slips. The professional writers in the room will know what that means--I managed to convince some editors that I was going to be a real writer some day.
What did I do? Oh, I quit writing for several years. It was only after spending some time as a restaurant manager that I picked up the pen again. And one could argue that I stepped away from my writing again while I was in college. My venturing into ebooks was caused by the fact that I lost my college newspaper job, and my school schedule was not conductive to burger flipping, plus the fact that one of my friends was doing good in a market that I have been doing in print since 1984.
So I know that I have to be cautious about my own mental state. Especially now that my business has started to actually work for me. At the moment, provided that nothing major goes wrong, such as ebooks becoming illegal or something like that, my writing income will be better than any of my previous years...and that is even if I do not write another word. This is not the time that I should be thinking about stepping away from the table--at this point in time, I should be rolling up my sleeves for a major campaign.
We will see if my mental programming allows me to do so or not. At this point in time, I am not making any sudden bets. But then again, I am aware of my little mental programming problem...and knowing is half the battle, right?