I’m writing to say I’m sorry.
I’ve been expecting too much from you, holding you to promises you never made. And that’s unfair of me.
You see, I just finished cycling across France—from the Swiss border all the way to the Atlantic coast. On that trip, I faced a lot of my fears and sadnesses and disappointments. And one of my disappointments was you.
I was disappointed that writing six books in two years hadn’t resulted in bigger exposure and more sales. I’d bought into the false cultural idea that if you’re brave enough, if you put yourself out there, if you jump, the net will appear. And I expected a bigger net than I got.
Don’t get me wrong. From a logical standpoint, you’ve been kind to me. Making enough book income each month to cover about 75% of my expenses as a self-published author is a massive accomplishment. And when you add in my magazine writing and online income, covering all my expenses as a travel writer…that’s pretty darn amazing as well.
But I’m a perfectionist. And I wanted more. Expected more.
Then I got to the end of my bike trip. I rode across a giant, scary bridge full of trucks, into the town of Saint-Nazaire, and up to a little bakery. I settled myself at a table outside with a drink and a cookie and I watched an interview with Elizabeth Gilbert about creativity.
She said she knew so many people who had gotten disillusioned with you after they poured their money and time and love into you and gotten less than what they expected in the end. Less readers. Less recognition. Less money. Whatever the case may be.
Then she said that her perspective on creativity was just the opposite. She never expected you to support her, to catch her when she jumped. She made a commitment to you, instead. That she would be the one to support you. She’d work as much as it took in order to be able to write, to pursue her projects.
And I realized that this is how I’d rather be.
Yes, I’m working toward building something that will support me. Yes, I care about doing projects that people want to buy. But rather than holding you to promises you never made me, I’m making a promise to you:
I’ll keep creating if you’ll keep showing up.
And while I hope for growth, for readers, for finances, I’m not going to blame you if they don’t come.
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