On September 11, 2010, I sat on the 1980s-shag-carpet-covered stairs in my Los Angeles rent house and boo-hooed into the phone to my husband. Why do I remember the date so clearly?
Because it was my birthday. (And because it’s damn hard to forget the feel of 1980s shag carpet.)
My friends, I was a complete and utter creative mess. I’d written three full-length books and half of another, but I was paralyzed.
A lot of things had contributed to the mess that was me.
I was single parenting while my husband was still overseas. My son and I had repatriated after almost five years in the Middle East, which is harder than you might imagine. (Ask me about the Target toilet paper incident if you want more proof.) Some of my best writer friends and critique partners were getting multi-book publishing contracts, big-time agents, and validation that they didn’t suck.
My confidence was shot.
And as I sat there on the shag, I told my husband I thought I should throw in the towel. This writing thing was going nowhere. It was too effin’ hard. And jonesing for publication had morphed me into a ball of neurotic adjectives like tired, disheartened, swirly-brained, envious, indecisive, and completely lacking confidence.
My husband’s answer to my meltdown was to buy me huge Mac monitor as a birthday gift with the hopes I would, you know, put it to good use.
And I did. Sort of. I piddled (for non-southerners, this means “played around with,” not “whizzed on the carpet”) with a new story, helped another author launch her business, and sat on a national board I had no business signing on for.
Let’s face it, I was dog paddling. Pathetic, huh?
So what happened with Little Miss Pitiful? (Because right now, she just ain’t a character you can root for.)
Right before we were due to move again—to the East Coast this time—my mom had a sudden heart attack and died before I could make it back home. By all that’s holy, it could’ve sunk me for good. And believe me, I was the walking dazed for a few months afterward. Losing my mom was one of the worst things that had ever happened in my life.
And it was one of the best. Because to honor my mom’s memory I had to get my ass back in the saddle.
So on August 26, 2012, I made a declaration. I was done with being unpublished. I was done acting like the chubby kid chasing after the ice cream truck. (And I can say this because I wore pretty-plus jeans for year. I was the chubby kid.)
I said aloud, “I’m no longer unpublished. From now on, I will act as if I’m published.”
A year later—on August 26, 2013—my first book was published by Carina Press, an imprint of Harlequin.
And if you’ve taken a peek at my bio, you know I’m now a USA Today bestselling author of almost 20 books.
Yeah, yeah, you’re thinking. But what did you do??
- I hired a coach to help me figure out what I really wanted and what being creative meant to me.
- I worked on my creative process and learned how I write a book. I studied others’ techniques, but I began to develop confidence in my process.
- I developed discipline. I sat my hindparts in the chair and WROTE.
- I got organized, putting all my little ducks in a row so I could better concentrate on the work itself.
- I decided that my definition of success at that time was becoming published. Period.
- And I stopped thinking so damn much about where I should’ve been in my writing career and accepted where I was. Then I started taking the next right step (ala Julia Cameron) every day.
There’s even more backstory involved here, but to make a long story somewhat short, it took me over three years to get my creative shit together. Because I had to piece together my recovery by myself.
But I want something different for you. I want you to be able to chase your creative dreams and make cool stuff. I want your path to creative fulfillment and success to be a heckuva lot easier than mine was.
That’s why I created Kicksass Creations, a place for aspiring and professional creatives to learn how to get shit done and become more productive.