I have reached my $100 monthly goal on Patreon!
It's actually $139 now. As a perk I promised you, my patrons, to write a blog post about anything you wanted. The next perk, by the way, will be at the $500 goal's completion—a short story about anything you want. (Won't that be fun?)
So here we go. Below are your questions and my answers. If you have more questions, go ahead and ask in the comments here or on Patreon. I will answer them with all the truth I can muster.
Cassandra Rainn asked: "I want you to write about mistakes you are glad you made, like you knew it wasn't smart when you did it but are ultimately happy about it."
It seems my whole life is made of mistakes, from little ones to big ones and everything in between. I suppose you mean ever since I started writing, right? Which was almost 3 years ago. Really? Wow. Yes, on May 15th it will be 3 years since I started writing full time.
And here is the laundry list of mistakes I did that taught me stuff. Get your popcorn and sit comfortably. Here we go.
I HAVE LISTENED TO OTHER PEOPLE.
When I started out, I was so terrified and so naive, I would do anything anyone would tell me to do. "You're only supposed to say 'said' in dialogue!" I did. "Cut out all adverbs!" I did. "Plot your novel!" I did.
Why was it stupid? Because I blindly followed advice without filtering it out.
Why was it smart? With time I have discarded things that didn't work and kept things that did. Perhaps if I have never tried them, I would've forever wondered what would happen if I did.
I TOOK SOCIAL MEDIA SERIOUSLY.
Because I've been making money doing social media for companies, I went with the same zeal to do the same for myself. Big mistake. I focused on the numbers more than real human connections, and as a result have alienated some fans when I attempted to change tactics and clean up my channels to follow only people with whom I interact the most and whose stuff I actually read.
Why was it stupid? I dove into this without having done my homework.
Why was it smart? I have learned the value of connection that stems from social media and stopped taking the whole thing seriously by switching to just being myself, the insufferable chatterbox. Amazingly, people still follow me.
I WOULD PROMISE AND NOT DELIVER.
People would ask me for things. "Beta read my draft, please!" "Review my book, please!" "Retweet my Kickstarter, please!" "Change my grandma's diapers, please!" And on and on. Sometimes without a "please." I would try to do everything and then apologize for failing and then get angry messages like, "Oh, you're so full of yourself, you don't even have the decency to respond to my email?" Yes, it got to this.
Why was it stupid? I failed to recognize that my creativity suffers when I try catering to everyone, which in turn made my true fans suffer. I sleep less and feel worse and produce less good work.
Why was it smart? I have learned to not engage. Oh, the bliss of it! You can't imagine.
I BELITTLED MYSELF.
When people would tell me how much they loved my book, I would respond, "No, no, it's not that good." I didn't understand that I made them unhappy. Here they were, trying to give me love, and I rejected them. I since learned to thank people and to agree. I still slip sometimes, but I'm much better now.
Why was it stupid? I failed to step into other people's shoes acting like an immature egoist.
Why was it smart? I have attracted people who had the same issue and who ultimately opened my eyes on my mistake. You know who you are. Thank you.
Okay, I can write a whole novel about the mistakes I made. Let me move on to the next question.
Claire Penrose asked: "I'd like to know whether there are parts of putting yourself out there as a creator and a person that make you uncomfortable or frighten you, and if there are have they ever stopped you from sharing. I've been in the shadows a long while nursing an artistic breakdown from the emotional side of trauma, spending a lot of time in isolation virtually and organically. I've reached a point where I can't stay in the shadows any more, and can see very clearly what I want to do and how I want to share and connect but fear is still strong enough to make me hesitant."
I'm scared and uncomfortable every day. Big time. I don't think it will ever go away. But by pushing myself to share and open up I learned not to care. Whatever people think is their opinion of me or of my art. They have a right to have an opinion, but unless they know me really well, it has very little to do with me and a lot to do with them. Because I'm a visible target, they use me to bounce off their emotions, negative and positive. In a way I'm like therapy. Any artist, for that matter, provides therapeutic release by being public to those who can't or are not in a place to try.
I guess the only thing I haven't done yet it posting naked pictures of myself. I'm a bit embarrassed, but not because of nudity, more because of this idea of perfection and, well, after two kids my body is not perfect. But this is a whole another topic. I would have posted a picture of my boobs if there was a reason for it. Simply shoving it in people's faces for attention is not art. I'm not interested in it. I'm interested in the sharing an impulse of creation, even if it scares me. Putting drafts of my unfinished novels on my site scared me. The idea scared some of my writer friends. "How can you post unfinished work for everyone to see?"
You know how it started? A reader asked me to see the draft. So I thought, if one person wants it, others will want it to.
In short, I share what I'm dying to share, and I share what my readers want me to share (this is not meant as an encouragement for you to demand pics of my boobs). Like this question you asked, I'm answering.
We're a community.
It might seem that I'm writing and self-publishing books on my own, but it's not true. A whole crowd of people makes it happen, putting in more work into me than I can ever fathom.
I think what I'm trying to say is, make that first step, and slowly your tribe will grow around you support you, and sharing will become less and less scary.
I can tell you that this blog started out of anger. I have confronted my father over the phone about sexually abusing me, after which he cut me out of his life. Basically he told me to take a hike. And I thought, "Fuck you, papa. I'm going public about this." After losing my family and nearly taking my own life, I had nothing else to lose and I was very angry. That was 6 years ago. The parts of that blog are hidden, about 150K words. One day I might do something about them. 3 years ago I started blogging about writing, but it was that initial anger that overrode my fear.
So if you need support to start something, a blog, a Twitter account, anything, please, let us all know, and we will support you. Right, guys?
I love you.