Today I want to talk about gratitude.
Gratitude can be a tough thing to practice. Sure, I’m grateful when something new and positive first comes along. But then the daily treadmill takes over, I get buried in the endless details, and I forget all about gratitude and slide into complaining, self-pity, and so on.
Like most of you out there, I’m busy. Being an indie author is a never-ending job. There are books to be written and edited, of course, but that’s only a fraction of all the work that needs doing. There are also promotions, marketing, interacting with readers, planning covers, setting up launches and a hundred other tasks. All of which makes it easy to get lost in the chaos and forget to be grateful.
Which is why I want to take a moment here to express how grateful I am. Some of you know my story already, but here it is again.
I graduated with a degree in Creative Writing in 1989, full of youthful enthusiasm, ready to set the literary world on fire.
What followed was 20 years of rejection and disappointment. There were a couple of bright spots, but mostly all I did was rack up an impressive stack of form rejection letters. And that was when the agents and editors even bothered to respond at all.
By the late 2000s I’d had enough. When the “experts” essentially tell you that you suck for long enough, it’s difficult to not doubt yourself. I got to the point where I couldn’t see any reason to keep trying. Maybe I was wasting my time. Maybe I wasn’t cut out for this whole writing thing.
It was soul-crushing. All those years of getting up early to write while my family slept, tapping away at the keyboard while my wife called me to dinner over and over, agonizing with my characters, creating novels that no one outside my family wanted to read. What was the point of it all?
So I quit. For the next couple of years, I didn’t write at all. I told myself I was done with it for good. Family members were worried about me. They’d seen how many jobs and careers I’d gone through in my life. Writing was the one constant. If I was giving that up, something must be wrong.
But then something magical happened. I’d put Wreckers Gate up on Kindle for the heck of it and mentioned it to a co-worker at the school where I taught English. He came in to work one day and said his wife read it and loved it so much she thought I was wasting my time doing anything but writing. That was the spark I needed. Suddenly I wanted to write again.
For the next few years I worked hard on my Immortality and Chaos series and began poking my head into the indie author world. But I still believed that in order to be a real author I had to be published by a major publisher. Once the series was complete, I made one last attempt, sending out 50 queries to agents, all of whom claimed they were looking for new clients. Most never even responded.
Reluctantly, I began learning how to be an indie author. It was hard for me. I had to change my thinking pretty radically. I had to push past the limits of what I thought I was capable of. (Accepting that I needed to write more than one book a year was really difficult for me. I didn’t think it was possible to do. Then I wrote six books in a year.)
Last year was when the dam finally broke. I sold over 40,000 books and had over 26 million pages read on Kindle Unlimited. It just blew me away. People I never met actually wanted to read my books! This year has been even better. For some unbelievable reason, my books just keep selling and selling.
But at the same time, it became a job. I’m essentially a small business owner. And when you’re a small business owner, you have to do practically everything yourself. You’re never caught up. There’s always work that needs doing. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by it all and lose sight of how wonderful this all is.
I don’t want that to happen. I want to remember to be grateful for the blessings I have been given. And not just the blessing of being able to fulfill my lifelong dream. (This is a huge one. Seriously, I can’t thank you all enough for making my dream come true. I wouldn’t be where I am today without you all. You’re the best. Thank you, thank you, thank you.) I want to remember to be grateful for all the gifts I’ve been given.
I have a wonderful wife of 24 years. I have two sons, 18 and 20, who for some reason enjoy my company and like being around me. I have friends, both in real life and readers and writers I’ve met through my work. I have my health. The list goes on and on.
For all of these things and so much more, I say thank you. I am grateful beyond words. My cup truly runneth over.
(What about you? What are you grateful for? I’d love to hear.)