Friday, June 06, 2008

Map Your Own Success

This past Wednesday, Michael and I sat on a panel at the Winston-Salem Library. Along with Press 53 and other local well-known authors, we talked about the world of publishing. To a packed house, I might add. Sponsored by the highly-popular Winston-Salem Writers, this panel showed a glimpse of how to, "See Your Work In Print." Afterward, lots of familiar faces in the crowd came up to talk and grab a hug. Folks I'd not hugged in a while. I sold and signed more copies of Southern Fried Women, and met a few new area writers. What fun.

I like panels like this. I don't have to do all the talking, for one thing. As much as I push folks to learn to speak in public, it's refreshing when you can sit back and listen sometimes. My 2 cents, however, is more along the line of marketing. When it comes to marketing my work, I can usually say, "been there, done that." Building a platform for your work, whether fiction or non-fiction, is just as important as writing the book. Lordy, how many times have I said that, I wonder? But you've got to draw your own map to success.

The list of things to do never ends. I struggle to get my web site updated, my face on the ever-popular Internet sites of today along with setting up more speaking engagements, and of course, finding time to write! Nobody can do it all! It's simply not possible. Unless you're loaded and can afford a secretary, a high-priced publicist, a web designer, along with a cook and a maid. Otherwise, you're finding your own way. And very often--it's in the dark.

I suppose you have to figure out what is most important to you. I used to freak out every week that I wasn't getting it all done. My writing has consumed me at times. I see it on the faces of other writers, as well. Writing! It's such a passion! Every waking moment, you're thinking about the next story. Riding down the road, your thoughts are wrapped up in plot and character. When you're in the midst of putting pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, you can forget your name even. Bathing, grooming, and eating ... it all takes a back seat to life at the keyboard.

But after a while, when the book is done, your eyes open. You realize, I have a life. Not just as a writer--but as a wife, a mother, a sister, a best friend, and a grandmother. Although I would probably give my left foot to be an A-List author ... I have to find balance in my life. It's never easy. Nothing good ever is, is it? It's like searching for buried treasure.

Maybe that should be a topic for the next panel discussion. Or the next How To Book for Dummies. Getting it All Done, in Six Easy Steps. I've said it before; life gets in the way of our dreams. Living day-to-day can squash all plans to put that marketing plan into action. Our children, our spouses, our family--they pull at us, and though we give of ourselves freely ... by the end of the day who feels like putting in more time at the computer?

So the trick is to find your own day-to-day balance. A good quote on Jackie Stanley's web site is by John W. Gardner: What we have before us are some breathtaking opportunities disguised as insoluble problems.

Our attempt to do it all, get it all done, may often seem insoluble. But it's not. You can be a great writer and speaker. Sometimes you just have to draw your own map.

Blessings to you and yours.

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