When I made my recent YouTube video (Heart to Heart…), I mentioned I was working my way out of my introvert box. That statement had me consider what has happened to get where I am now.
Please understand, I know I’m not famous. My books have not received awards or been listed on the New York Times bestseller list. But they must have some merit. Many people have read them and the feedback I’ve received is that they truly enjoy them. That means more to me than awards or being on a bestseller list. But no one knows the steps and hurdles I’ve had to overcome to be this far.
I’ve enjoyed reading since I was very young. My family moved around all the time, so making and keeping friends was difficult. Looking back, I feel that is why I gravitated toward the characters and worlds in the books I read, and then discovered I could create my own. As I grew older, I was that person who stood leaning against the wall at a dance, just watching everyone. If I even went to the dance. I wasn’t opposed to interacting with anyone, I just couldn’t initiate it. In other words, if anyone came around to talk, I would talk. So, as I stood on the fringes of those around me and formed friendships with a few of those that were like me, I started to express myself and my stories in writings.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about not being popular or not having a ton of friends. Those years formed a pattern of recognizing true friends and companions, not being swayed by fads or peer pressure, being able to learn and think for myself, develop my faith in God, and watch people react to various situations as well as personally experience the various joys and sorrows in life.
However, that pattern also made it very hard to step out of the shadows to share my stories with anyone. Rejection and criticism are huge fears to a budding author, I know, that is what kept me from sharing for years, no, decades! So, I wrote in the shadows. My co-workers had no idea what I was doing. My family had an idea I was writing something, but it was difficult to share with them, at first.
How did I break out of that? The realization that I was putting a vast amount of work into something that is just sitting around not being read by anyone but me. An accounting of my life and realizing that in the background of whatever I was doing or had done, I wanted to be a writer/author. And, a revelation through prayer that God had given me the gifts and abilities to write and it was my responsibility to share.
So, with great fear and trembling, I prepared to share. At first, I tried direct submission to publishing houses, when they would allow that. I received rejections or no feedback at all. After a period of time of putting it all aside, I tried again. After researching the publishing climate and finding that publishers had stopped reading unsolicited manuscripts, I sought a literary agent. After researching the ones I should approach for my book, I queried several and got no response. After putting it away again for a while, I picked it back up and started to seek other ways to share my book. This time, I investigated self-publishing. Over the years that I had sought some way to publish, self-publishing had been a questionable route for authors. But, under the banner of independently published, this way to get books out to the public had gained ground as being a legitimate avenue for new authors, especially since the publishing houses are now watching to see if their books will sell.
Well, independent publishing has its own caveats – money. Which I didn’t have. So, to start, I found a website that would publish e-books for free and distribute them to various e-book platforms. So, with a deep breath, I did it.
Waiting is always hard. But a budding author waiting for someone to read their book, and hopefully getting some feedback, can be excruciating. But, after a while, you quit checking to see if something happened and move on. ‘Okay Lord, I did what I thought You wanted. There it is…’ And I slipped back into the shadows, figuring being an introvert was my lot in life.
But, walking away from something doesn’t take it completely out of your mind. After all, time and time again, I worked very hard to overcome my fears and try to break out of my introverted status in regard to my writing being seen! So, I started to wonder if I should do more. But what? So, in utter frustration, I prayed one day, ‘Okay, God, if You really want me to be a writer, if You really gave me this gift and ability, then You have to have someone call me about one of my books. And, they have to call me at work.’ Something like that worked for Gideon, right? The last part of my prayer was specified because I would know it was truly God causing the response and not pure luck. At that time, there was no link between my work and my online presence as an author. That very day, I am serious, that day, I got a call at work about someone wanting to represent one of my books at a book show!! (There’s more to that story that I’ll share at another time.)
So, after that, I was inundated with calls from different companies that offered a variety of services to help me with my books. With careful selection of who to choose to help me and time, step by step with God’s grace, I feel there is finally some traction for my works to be recognized more widely. It’s not realized yet, but it looks very promising.
Then the next hurdle. I had always thought authors do their work in the shadows and their product is in the limelight. So, I relaxed thinking I’m doing my part by writing the books. How wrong I was! Apparently, as my books gained attention, I needed to step up more and promote myself. Several people in the business told me that I needed to do more social media, on-camera videos, and filmed interviews. As I balked at those ideas, I felt the introvert box start to close and trap me inside…
Where am I now? If you search my online presence, you will find that I have done two video author interviews with JT Crowley on Talking Books, an author interview/documentary on my YouTube channel, and, most recently, I’m finally getting in front of the camera instead of behind it as I do more videos. In other words, I am continuing my journey to escape the introvert box. Do I still feel uncertain and shy? Yes! But I know now, to move forward, I need to move out of the shadows.