I’ve had a shitty last six months.
I mean, it’s not normal to want to burst into tears (and occasionally do so) whenever someone asks a simple “how are you,” right?
Well, that’s been my normal for quite some time…
I discovered after the first book release how very much I loved the highs that came along with publishing a book. Sure, there were lows last year – that time a single person came to a reading comes to mind – but there were enough highs to balance them out. Hitting the New York Times list! Going on a book tour! Earning out my advance! Selling the foreign rights! The highs were so, so high. And I became completely addicted to them.
They ended abruptly, however, and over the summer I called my agent and told her I was bored. Nobody wanted to interview me or have me speak at events or do readings anywhere, I whined. I missed the excitement; the roller coaster ride I’d been spoiled by. Write another book, she responded simply. So I did.
After the hard part – the writing- was over, I excitedly prepared for the release. No longer a first time author, I knew exactly what to expect this time. It would be bigger and better than the last one. Bring on the highs, universe! I was ready with a capital R.
Unfortunately, those highs I’d been craving never came. That second book? It turned out to be nothing but lows. Low after low after low that kicked my sorry ass.
It began immediately before the release date when I was informed that because of a dispute with my publisher, Simon and Schuster, Barnes and Noble would be pulling all of my books – along with those from many other of their authors – from store shelves. Like, every store shelf. No in-store promotion, no on-line promotion, no Barnes and Noble book tour. Just like that. I was asked not to talk about the whole mess, so I didn’t. Focus on Amazon sales, put on a happy face and move forward, I was advised. So that’s what I tried to do.
The first week’s performance was dismal. And it only got worse.
It could have been the Barnes and Noble thing. Or the bombings at the Boston Marathon that happened shortly after. Or the abundance of similar themed books to come out at the same exact time. Perhaps it was just too soon for another book or maybe I was just meant to be a one hit book wonder.
Whatever it was, while the first book’s sales were strong enough to safely assume there’d be a follow up, the second one was making it pretty clear there wouldn’t be a third. I felt rather like I’d been hit by a train. How’d that happen when I signed up for a fucking roller coaster?
And the lows just kept on coming. The amazing 20/20 segment my community members and I filmed was killed because it was simply too… positive. It wasn’t juicy enough; not salacious enough to make good TV. The press coverage I was promised never came through. Books never arrived to several events I appeared at, so even though I had a captive audience, I was unable to actually sell them books. I tried to maintain a sense of humor and perspective over it all, but without the highs to balance out the lows, book number two became nothing but a failure to me.
Time after time, I was advised not to talk about the negative stuff on the site. Nobody likes a loser; if you appear successful, you’ll be successful, I was told. So, I stayed mum and hoped the book would somehow turn itself around, and every week it didn’t, another little piece of my self-worth would chip away.
This blog — the one place I’ve always been honest and nothing but — became somewhere I suddenly had to fake it. I built a whole community based on telling the truth, and here I was unable to address any of the feelings and disappointments I was dealing with. I’d write stupid fluffy pieces, unable to go any deeper because deeper was the bad stuff I wasn’t supposed to talk about. It felt dishonest to write anything substantial without really delving into what I was dealing with. So I slowly disappeared, adding more and more contributors to the roster to write words that I could not.
I am proud that this site has become so community driven. There are countless things I can’t write about anymore – pregnancy seems like a lifetime ago, and my kids are at an age where I’m not willing to share each and every little thing that they go through. I love having other women fill that void and add perspectives that I am unable to. But, at the same time, I missed having a voice here, too, and I started to resent the site because of it. The site I built; the site I love.
This probably sounds utterly shallow and ridiculous. Maybe you’re rolling your eyes and filing this under “Problems Entitled Bitches Have.” I’ve been so lucky to even publish two books and things certainly could be a hell of a lot worse. But, right or wrong, the last six months have beaten me down. It’s been six months of putting on a happy face and not burning bridges and doing what I was told.
It’s been six months too long. And I’m done.
I’m finally ready to crawl out of the hole I’ve put myself in. I want to feel the pride I once felt here instead of drowning under the weight of disappointment. I want to write again, instead of feeling nothing but insecurity and deleting posts before publishing them, hiding behind the role of editor. I want to be inspired and excited and positive, and I don’t think I can do that unless I come clean with you all about how it’s been.
So, there you have it; the honest to goodness truth from me, for a change. Halle-fucking-lujah.
Onward and upward, my friends. It’s time.