Saturday, June 27, 2015

More introspection, because that's what I do...

Day Thirteen: I’ve written two drafts for this blog today. I’ve deleted both as they were essentially a rant against my internet service provider which does me no good and gives you no entertainment. And I just deleted a paragraph ranting even more about it, I really need to lighten up since I can’t do anything but wait for it to improve.

Well that was yesterday, and today is Day Fourteen: Yesterday I had a whole blog post, but since it was still more of a rant than not, I deleted all but the opening paragraph. I couldn’t post it on the blog anyway because – you guessed it – internet dropped again for so long that I just gave up. So this is a kind of combination blog. Yesterdays was 647 words before I deleted the bulk of it, just so you know that I did write my 500 words yesterday, just didn’t keep them.

Today I’ve decided to use a writing prompt that stuck in my head ever since I read it. It was simple enough, in fact it was more of an afterthought to the main prompt but it resonated with me. It was ‘write why you hate to self-promote’ and since I do really, really hate to self-promote it got me to thinking about why. After all, I’m a writer, I have a social platform, I write books that I want people to read – I put my words out there and I want them to be read. So why do I hate to promote those words? Do I blame aspects of my personality or my upbringing?

I’m an introvert, I think a lot of writers are. Not all of course, but a lot. It stands to reason, introverts live internally, we get energy from being alone, people exhaust us. When I was younger I tried to ‘fit in’ with how I felt I should be. I tried to be social, I tried to make lots of friends. I failed on the whole. A roomful of people is sensory overload, small talk with a stranger terrifies me. Small talk in general is not something at which I excel (or even do). Meeting new people is an ordeal, although I enjoy the company of friends when they eventually cease being strangers (in my mind).

I can remember watching my sister easily making small talk with someone and being in awe of her ability. I don’t even think to do it. I will sit silently beside a stranger and not feel uncomfortable. Should that stranger be a chatty extrovert I will respond in an appropriate manner because I have learned how to. But internally I’m just waiting for him/her to go away.

When I finally understood that there is nothing wrong with me, that I am introverted, I could feel the weight of failure lift from my shoulders. Paradoxically I found that I was better able to deal with groups of people and less afraid of sharing my thoughts and feeling online. I know what I am and I know better how to take care of me, so I can do some of the things that before had me digging in my heels and refusing to even try. However you will NEVER see me at an opening of any kind.

There is a brilliant webpage that includes two simple pictures that encapsulate both the introverted nature and the extroverted. Here are the pictures and the link to the page if you want to read more:

How does this relate to my reluctance to self-promote? As an introvert, and as a writer, I live with doubt. I write a book that I think is good, but by the time I get it to the publishing stage I am almost crippled by doubt. Is it as good as I think? Will anybody like it? Why did I even think I could write? Nobody will want to read this. My thoughts circle like sharks, eating away at all the positive feelings I had about the book until I am convinced it is a terrible piece of hack writing and I should throw it away.

That I don’t is mostly because I am practically penniless and so need to at least try! Well, also that there is a small well of optimism that refuses to dry out no matter how much black sand my pessimism dumps onto it. So I publish and then feel anxious about what the faceless public might think. Self-promote? That’s what attention seekers do. How can I do that, I’m not an attention seeker. I have all the social trappings for sure to build up a social platform, but I do it feeling all the time that nobody will look at it. This blog; I am astonished every time I come here to see that my readership is steadily growing. I have no idea why you guys think I’m worth reading, but I’m eternally grateful that you do. You validate me, every single one of you.

Now with my most recent book Letters, I have had - as you know if you read the blog about the magnificent review – validation as a writer on a scale higher than ever before. I also feel a responsibility to get this book read by people who may need an arms-length insight to their own lives, or just a positive story to show that it is possible to get out and to move on – and to be happy.

So I persevere with the process of arranging the option of buying this book as a paperback, a process which I hope is almost done. I am considering paid advertising to try to get the book seen. The problem with Amazon is the sheer number of books and the bewildering array of choices. Some carefully targeted advertising may make a difference to visibility.

Reviews make a difference too, so if you downloaded the book while it was free, please leave a review. You can’t do it from the end of the book, as it was a free copy, but you can if you go to the Amazon site. At the bottom of the book page where it says Customer Reviews there is a button that says Write a Customer Review. You can go there and leave your review. It will help the book to get some visibility and also credibility for future readers. A lot of readers on Amazon go for books that have multiple reviews. There is even an option to refine your search based on the number of reviews. I’ll add the link here to make it easier for you:

Finally, the Sabrina book now has a paperback version. I used a different cover, just because I liked it, but the interior is the same. I’ll add that link too for you to check out. The price is the minimum allowed by CreateSpace, something I learned as well – that there is a minimum price for books sold through CreateSpace.

There is a delay before paperback books are attached to the kindle version on Amazon and the paperback is not yet there. But I'll add the link for the kindle version anyway, and then the link for the CreateSpace store paperback version. In a few more days it will be attached I hope. This little book sells regularly - if you are a writer take a look at the cover, I am sure the photo of Sabrina as a rescue kitten goes a big way to ensure sales.

The Story of a Street Cat Called Sabrina paperback as yet only on CreateSpace. But take a look at the paperback cover anyway.

So what’s the moral for today? I don’t know for sure – I hope you’re not getting that it’s ‘buy my books’ since you now know how much I hate to self-promote (but you know, buy my books! – couldn’t resist that). For me, from what I have learned about myself, it’s to accept people for who they are and to appreciate them for their own unique abilities. Don’t try to make people be the way you feel is the best way to be happy. What I have learned from the people who have tried to make me be more extroverted is that we all tend to think what is best for others – is what is best for ourselves. We all need to learn to put ourselves into another’s shoes, really into them. Sometimes I think that even with the best intentions we don’t do that completely. We keep our metaphorical socks on and don’t truly touch what it is like to be another person. We all need to remember that every person is different and has a right to be so – unless that person is a murderous sociopath in which case don’t put yourself in their shoes!

One last thing, for those of you who may be writers slogging away on your own. Join a writing group even if it's only an online one. My group is called My 500 Words on Facebook and I could not ask for a better, more helpful and uplifting community. I have resisted joining any sort of writing group for years - introvert remember - but my only regret with this one is that I didn't join sooner. 

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