In 2010, I wrote my first piece of fiction since quitting in frustration a decade earlier. It felt pretty good finishing a short story again. So good, that I decided I should keep it going.
In 2011, I finished a novel. It sold quite well. I focused on sales and on pushing myself beyond reasonable limits to produce more content and to chase every whim that might increase sales.
In 2013, Amazon went into business for themselves, pivoting from a meritocracy model back to a “pay to play” model as has been pretty much the standard in publishing since time out of mind. So much for innovation, eh? Indie writers now had to buy ads from Amazon in order to sell books. By 2013 my sales had plummeted, never to regain their former momentum.
By 2017, I’d written about twenty books. Then I was diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy. In other words, severe nerve damage in both of my feet. It’s incurable and it’s hell. It won’t kill me, at least, but it put a hell of a damper on things.
I haven’t written a book since 2017.
Not gonna lie…that neuropathy fucked me up. Literally overnight I went from some minor pain and numbness in my feet to burning, relentless, constant agony. And I do mean literally overnight; I had a nerve conduction test done and the following day I could barely walk.
I became clinically depressed for the first time in my life…that was a wild ride. I also realized I have ADHD, which explained a lot.
The pandemic hit and isolated me with my own horrible thoughts. It got tough. The mood stabilizer helped to at least give me some motivation to get moving at the beginning of each day, but I needed more.
Then, for the first time in my life, I recently went through cognitive therapy. Nothing major, just used BetterHelp.com. The counselor helped me tie together a lot of the stuff I’d been feeling and had been researching myself on the side while trying to find answers for what was going on in my crazy brain.
Then an even crazier thing happened.
I had a major breakthrough.
I put it all together; the low self-esteem that plagued me was due to bad instructions I received as a child.
See, here’s how I put it together…
My mother was unfit. She showed me through her words and actions that I was a burden, that I was never really wanted. She made it clear that she came first and that my brother and I weren’t even a close second. We were not loved and we weren’t deserving of love.
My dad saved my life. He was there for me. He showed me through his actions and words that I was wanted, loved, and that I was capable of bigger things. He’s always been there.
Problem is, I believed them both. That’s what good kids do; they believe their parents.
But that’s cognitive dissonance, and we humans abhor it. In me, the self-image that my mother fostered caused anxiety and self-esteem issues that plagued me my entire life, but the self-image that my dad fostered is what allowed me to reach up and succeed beyond my expectations.
Over my life, I’ve had periods of success and happiness, followed by periods where I felt like a failure. I’ve wondered for years now how I could see myself as both successful and unsuccessful, how I could succeed in spite of myself, and I can see now that my view of myself just shifted back and forth between these two viewpoints: wanted and unwanted.
It seems though, as I’ve learned over the years, that my happiness always came from the outside, from external factors, and not from within. If things at work were going well, I was up. Going poorly, and I was way down on myself. On and on, year after year, for decades.
This light bulb moment has changed everything for me. My confidence is higher than ever and my anxiety is lower now. I’m taking criticism better. I’m viewing things through the lens of confidence rather than fear. I now know that I’m not broken, I’m not defective, I’m not a bad person. Instantly, the void inside me filled with contentment. I’m good enough as I am and I don’t need somebody or something from outside to determine that for me. And that knowledge has spread throughout my entire life. It’s changed everything.
So what is “Writing 2.0” then? I’ve already started a “guitar 2.0” journey, outside of writing, and thought the concept would be perfect for writing as well. At its core, it’s a revisiting of old concepts with a fresh and open mind. Challenging assumptions. Being realistic about how much I can produce and how much I’m selling (or not selling). It’s about valuing myself and that unique perspective that I can bring to the stories. That’s what people want…voice. My voice is my brand. Polishing, polishing, polishing everything to death destroys that voice.
In the end, I need to bet on myself.
What can you expect from this fresh new perspective? A new website. Free stories. Steady production, but I’m not killing myself to write a novel per month. I write pretty fast, but consistency has been the king. I figure a couple of novels per year seems reasonable to expect, but we’ll see. It’s a new world for me in so many ways now, but my love of story and writing is just as strong as it ever was.
I don’t do social media. I do have a newsletter that you can subscribe to for updates. I plan to start using that again once I have some new content to offer.
Until then, stay tuned. New and exciting things are ahead.