IWSG: Picking up the Breadcrumbs

My mind went running in so many directions for this month's Insecure Writer's Support Group , but in the end, I think I'll piggyback on Crystal Collier's post about keeping the faith, which I'm so happy I didn't miss (thanks to D.L.'s Blog Blitz). You can go ahead and read that first. I'll wait.

Oh good, you came back. :) You see, I live my life based on the cues I get along the way. I tend to not ask a lot of questions when making life choices; a gut instinct is generally good enough for me. The danger in living on instinct, however, is that the Good Guy isn't the only one trying to get through to me. Lesser forces are whispering to us all. the. time. and it's often difficult to know the difference.

Sometimes I go skipping off down the wrong path, at times get pretty far along it, but at some point I've always hit a wall of resistance---and it grows barbs when I try smashing through it. That's how I know I've been listening to the wrong voice. So I lick my wounds and abort the mission. And the thing is...I've been waiting to crash into the wall on this writing thing. I feel like I almost want it to happen.

Because what am I doing? What in the hell am I doing spending all this time writing and polishing and marketing and dreaming and failing and trying and putting myself out there and failing again??  Why don't I just chuck it all and give more of that time to my kids, to my friends, to my day job, to my poor, poor garden and house?

I know what you're thinking---the failing, or at least what I perceive as failing (*ahem* sucky-ass Amazon sales), is the wall. Maybe my lack of topping the charts is telling me that I'm lost in Wonderland and better get back to Reality pronto. But here's the other thing...every time I start thinking this way, I'm given a breadcrumb, a little nugget of encouragement to let me know that I'm on the right path and am meant to stay on it. These nuggets come in the form of an unexpected and lovely review, an unsolicited and genuine compliment from someone who I didn't even know was reading what I'd written. It comes in the form of being asked to speak as an author at local events---and people actually showing up to listen.

Click on the image if you'd like to see more from the event

I just can't believe these bits of encouragement would come at the exact times that I need them if I was meant to abort this mission. So I won't. I guess I'll pick up these breadcrumbs when I get 'em and let them nourish me until...until I know not what. Just gotta have faith.

Does it ever feel that way to you---like just when you're ready to give up, you get a little nugget of encouragement that keeps you going?


Jennifer Lane said...

I know all about suck ass Amazon ratings! But I'm not ready to throw in the towel. One thing that motivates me is the hope my writing can continue to improve. I love learning new skills. You've got a lot of great storytelling inside of you, I can tell!

StratPlayerCJF said...

They say that it takes five positive comment to offset one negative comment, but I think I tend to put a LOT more weight on positive feedback.

If I know that my writing is connecting with just ONE person, then I'm a "success" as a writer, at least at some level.

Just to have that little bit of validation and support, especially when it's given freely and unexpectedly, makes all the thankless hours and frustrations and rejections worth it.

So hang in there!

(And awesome reading event pictures -- it looks like it was a lot of fun!)

Liz Blocker said...

Yes, yes, and yes. It's so hard to have faith, and to keep trying, when life throws obstacles in the way. All I can say is DON'T GIVE UP! You have something to share, and that matters. A lot.

LG Smith linked to a great, great article about redefining success today. I highly recommend her post (http://bardsandprophets.blogspot.com/2013/11/insecure-writers-grandmothering-social.html) AND the article (http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20131102024414-75054000-are-you-destined-for-success)

Hang in there!

Julie Flanders said...

Excellent post! This just happened to me last weekend - someone I didn't even know was reading my book left me the nicest review and it really have me such a boost. I love your idea of seeing these moments as breadcrumbs. :)

M.J. Fifield said...

I do feel that way a lot, and honestly, I don't even have any amazon ratings. I'm in a place where I'd be thrilled to be in a position to have amazon ratings—good, bad or in between.

But whenever I start really getting down about my ability to get to that next level, something good comes along and helps me keep my head up a little bit longer.

D.G. Hudson said...

Take the breadcrumbs and make them into something more. Recognition is something all creatives need.
Don't sweat the percentages, keep writing, Nicki.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Nicki .. all writers seem to suffer as they go along the prickly path - til the clearing comes along and life gets easier .. ie more books, more acknowledgements, more requests for talks, conferences, guest posts et al ...

But those wonders of delight through a comment or review just make us smile and keep us on our journey ..

Good for you - and so pleased your breadcrumbs are adding up .. go for the whole loaf .. cheers Hilary

Luanne G. Smith said...

Yes, yes you did need to read my post today. LOL.

Yeah, it's freaking hard, isn't it? That's why not everyone is tough enough to be a writer for the long haul. But you are. You just gotta recalibrate sometimes and remind yourself why you do it. :))

Suze said...

Babe, I clicked on the image to look at the album and my throat got all tight and I got tears in the corners of my eyes! I know. I'm a huge chump but I just wish so much I could have been there. Do you have any idea what kind of cake I would have baked for you? That's a helluva lotta crumbs.

Also, the growing barbs bit made me chuckle. :)

Suze said...

I'm always thinking of more stuff to say after I've already posted a comment here. Wanted to add that I like your style. You're like the Tom Petty Song.

Kittie Howard said...

About your question at the end: It's too complicated for here, but the comment you left on my post came at just the right moment -- oh, but you have no idea -- I'm forever grateful, Nicki!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

And it's those little things that keep us going!
Sucky-ass sales - that made me chuckle.

Janie Junebug said...

I am The Voice of Authority: YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE. YOU ARE A GOOD WRITER. SALES DON'T MEAN YOU SHOULD STOP. YOU ARE PUBLISHED. I AM PROUD OF YOU. Okay. I'm done shouting. I often feel that God pokes me in the shoulder and nags me to do something. I was about ready to give up on editing and writing after a certain writer was very unkind to me, but then I got an editing job and it went swimmingly and I feel okay again. A blogger named Pickleope also made a comment that helped me tremendously.


Isis Rushdan said...

Being a writer isn't easy. Keep looking out for those breadcrumbs and don't let anything deter you from the path!

Suzanne Furness said...

Thank goodness for those little breadcrumbs! Being a writer is not an easy path to follow but at least there are so many wonderful people out here to offer encouragement and support. Keep writing :)

Cherie Colyer said...

I really think Fate puts those little nuggets in a place we can find them so we don't give up. That is a lovely photo of you =)

Oh! And I finished Hans and Greta. I really enjoyed it!

Neurotic Workaholic said...

It's normal to have doubts, especially because writing is very difficult; it's different from a lot of jobs and you don't always know what's going to happen. But I think it's good to keep going, and I think it's good that you've kept going, especially when writing is important to you. And that event looks like it was a lot of fun; the pictures came out great.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Ah HA, so now I know what you meant about the breadcrumbs in the comment you left on my blog. I'm thrilled to have been one of the people who threw some to you... with some apple butter to go with them. (It IS autumn!)

My Amazon sales have gotten pretty sucky lately, too, but hey! There's always tomorrow!

Don't give up, Nicki. You've got talent out the wazoo, and don't you forget it.

dolorah said...

Yep, gotta keep the faith to achieve the dreams. You're on your way Nicki.


Arlee Bird said...

This post speaks to me even if I don't have any books out yet. What you've said here can apply to any passion in life. Sure we'll get discouraged, but when it's something that we believe in a breeze of inspiration can set a dying ember ablaze with new fervor.

Special report today on the "Story Sprouts" book launch in L.A.
Lot's of pictures in this one!

Tossing It Out

Karen Jones Gowen said...

Definitely! I basically move from one bit of hope to the next.

M Pax said...

Don't you give up! You're a fantastic writer.

I think each of our paths are ours alone and each will differ from another. And I was reading... or maybe hearing yesterday about how we measure success. Is it ratings? Is it finishing a book the best we can, getting it out there, and winning over a few fans? For most of us it's B.

But if we keep chugging along, our path may lead us onto the takeoff ramp and someday we may find ourselves in the sky.

This publishing bit is dang hard, which is why we need the support of one another.

But you're right about the crumbs, they do seem to come at dark hours.

I was feeling so horrible on Tues., and I think the universe knows why I was so angry at this point - lol - but in the midst of that, I received a wonderful letter from a fan who makes me jump up and down as having him as a fan.

Take every one of those crumbs, keep them, file them away, and on bad days take them out and relive each one. Don't give up... the universe is telling me to tell you that.

Lan said...

I think as writers we all secretly hope to make it big Amanda Hocking style. I've heard that sadly very few authors do that well. But I think publishing a book in itself is a major achievement and equals success. If you're getting nice reviews and people contacting you I think you've done well. I really hope you keep at it, any day now something unexpected could happen.

Philip Verghese 'Ariel' said...

HI Nicki,
I could very well relate here,
like "...Why don't I just chuck it all and give more of that time to my kids, to my friends, to my day job, to my poor, poor garden and house?"
but......every time I start thinking this way, I'm given a breadcrumb, a little nugget of encouragement to let me know that I'm on the right path and am meant to stay on it"
This thought make us to go on and on.. Great thoughts here. Thanks for sharing this, and thank you very much for dropping by..
Keep inform
Best Regards