I’m preserving the original flavor of these two chapters (Taking the Road Less Traveled, The Secret Ingredient: Confidence) written just before my leap into indie publishing. Partly because they show what I was thinking before I knew self-publishing was going to give me monthly paychecks that would replace a job in engineering within a year. Before I knew people would give my books hundreds of five-star reviews on Amazon. It was before all the success I’ve been lucky and worked hard to have. And I think it speaks to the experience that many writers go through during that transition time when they step back, gauge the gap, get a running start, and make the daring leap into their author careers. Then we’ll tie things up with a retrospective chapter on Making the Leap.
When It First Occurred To Me That I Might Self-Publish
[Ed. Note: I am scared crazy here.]
What is my problem? And more importantly, is this behavior I would encourage in my kids?
I realize that I don’t take chances in everything I do.
Wonderful, stable marriage? Well-worn path.
Running for public office? Road less traveled.
Owning a minivan, carting kids around? Paved road with lots of traffic.
Trying to write novels for a living? Weedy path.
So what makes me decide it’s worth risking time/money/effort to pursue a goal (writing) that may end up snarled somewhere in a ditch?
The truth is that I agonized over that decision and still revisit it on occasion, as if I’m not finished with the agony just yet, needing to vex my conscience a little more. I’m relieved that 12 year old Dark Omen wants to be a physicist first and a novelist on the side, even as I abet his dream by uploading his novel to Smashwords so he can share it with his friends. I worry that 8 year old Mighty Mite loves Hip Hop dancing more than math, even as I can’t resist putting up mirrors in the basement, turning it into his own private dance studio.
Do I really want to encourage them to be risk-takers, like Mom?
Never mind that it’s worked out well for me, most of my life. My mom says I lead a charmed life, that things seem to go my way. Maybe she’s right. Or maybe I make my own luck, by working hard to be ready when Opportunity comes knocking on my door. Either way, what seems like a calculated risk when I’m taking it, seems like crazy foolhardiness when it’s my childrens’ futures at stake.
So, I take a deep breath and whack down the tall grass in my way, with a machete I won online (being at the right place at the right time), and take the biggest risk of all: daring to be myself, even when the kids are watching.
(Four Months Later) Just Before Deciding to Take the Leap
[Ed. Note: The fear is still there, but I’m proceeding anyway.]