Are You There inspiration? It’s Me, K. M. Langdon.
Writing is my dream job. I’ve wanted to be an author since I was a little kid. I’ve always dreamed of writing story after story, book after book, and having them sold in bookstores for people to read. It’s always seemed like a perfect gig to me and, in many ways, it is. But it’s a whole lot harder than little Langdon thought!
Since publishing my book, I’ve felt like an intern who has been put into the position of CEO in a startup in a whole new industry. Not only that, but I feel like an intern who’s responsible for leading the finance, marketing, distribution and legal departments, while also being the inspired artist. Needless to say it has been a massive learning curve!
When I started down this new career path in 2016, I didn’t know the first thing about how to get a book into stores or how to get people to read it. I didn’t know how to get reviews and I definitely didn’t know anything about SEO practices. I’m still at a loss as to what Facebook Insights actually is and how I can use it, but at least I now know that it’s something I absolutely should be using. I’m learning how to pitch and how to sell. I’m learning that I should also be able to write screenplays so that I can broaden my horizons. And, I’m learning how to deal with haters. I’m also learning how to grow an Instagram account and how to gain traffic by using Pinterest. I’m learning about bookkeeping and keeping records and being solely accountable. I’m using analytics daily and I’m getting increasingly used to cold-calling. And there’s still that pesky little post-concussion syndrome that, even after two and a half years, still renders some days “foggy” days and can lead to me having to redo all the work on the following day. It's a lot but this is all fantastic experience and, because it’s for something that I’m passionate about, it’s so much fun to learn. I could hunker in and do it all day. And, sometimes, that’s exactly what I do. Writing is not so much a case of “write it and they will read” as one might at first expect. There are thousands and thousands of books published every year, so it’s all about how you distribute, market, and sell that will differentiate you. And all of this takes money so, for right now, I still need to keep my day job too.
But I’m also supposed to be writing.
I’m supposed to be writing and submitting to various publications as much and as often as I can. I’m a writer. I’m supposed to have a burning need to tell stories, which I do. I’m supposed to write every single day, which I do (whether it’s for business purposes or to write fiction). I’m supposed to have tons of ideas because I’m supposed to get inspired anywhere and everywhere, which I do. And I’m supposed to write book after book, which is something I’m still working on.
I spend three times as much time researching how to market and publish and sell my books as I do actually doing those things. But people keep asking me, “When is your next book coming out? What’s it going to be about?” I used to think this was just flattering. It felt like something people would ask "real" authors whose day job is writing novels, and I loved it. But as time flies by and I become increasingly wrapped up in marketing Unsealed, it’s starting to make me a little bit stressed because I need to capitalize on any success that Unsealed brings. I need to follow up with another book. People aren’t going to wait around for years while I get my act together and get my next book out. They’ll move on to some other author with a good story and a faster turnaround time. The problem is, right now, I have absolutely no idea what the F--- I am going to write about next.
Ugh. I just don’t have the time to be un-inspired!
I’ve read advice by other artists who simply say: “Let the inspiration come to you! The right story will find you when the time is right.”
Okay. That’s cool if you want to be all yogi about it, but I don’t have time for that.
I mean, it is really soothing advice and it has merit. There’s a kind of serenity to leaving your fate to the universe. The universe gifted me with the story for Unsealed, maybe it’ll do that again. But I’m on the clock. I can’t wait another decade or two to get this next idea. I need it now. Maybe it’ll come tonight or tomorrow, next week or next month. But it could also be next year, in five years, or even fifteen. Or never. And I can’t risk that.
I’m making time to write. I put myself in front of a blank page at least every few days and tell my fingers to just go. But they have no idea where they want to go. There are so many possible storylines in my head, but none yet with the same kind of oomph I felt when starting to write Unsealed. That book contains my heart and soul. I put everything I had into it – every emotion, every ounce of sympathy and empathy and compassion, and every bit of fight. Not only did I find the story incredibly inspiring, but I thought about it and toyed with it for years so my idea was pretty fully-formed before I started putting words to a page.
And that's what's causing the issue now: I feel so connected to Liam and Kara’s characters, and their story, that I can’t seem to get excited enough about new characters to develop them and write their story. I’ve heard writers and actors say that they feel like they get to know their characters on such a deep level that, when they stop writing or playing them, there comes a sort of mourning period… or vacancy in their lives, rather. I think that’s the problem with me. It’s comfortable writing about Kara and Liam because I know them. They’re fully-developed characters that feel like real people because I’ve been thinking and writing about them for so long. That’s why it feels weird to start over with new characters who don’t have the same complexity yet, who still don’t have a fully-formed story. It's hard to start over.
That said, maybe this is all me making an excuse because I still can’t think of what I want to write next. I have a little black book filled with ideas and inspiration, but I cannot pick one for the life of me. I have plans started for about five of them, all of which I abandoned after a mere couple days. So, rather than starting on a sixth, I decided to write this rambling blog post. Procrastination at it’s finest – at least I was somewhat productive, right? But now it's time I got my head back in the game.
#AuthorLife is hard. And I’m loving every single minute of it.