It's Friday and our work has off. And I've been running amok, as usual.
Recently I took on a new project at work, one dear to my heart, but one that requires extra work. If it succeeds, it means I'll have accomplished a dream, something I've wanted for a very long time for the women I've met over 15 years of working with the poor. Not bad for extra work.
But it's a bad time for me to do this. My next historical is due in four months. I have tons of research to do because part of the book will be set in a new area of Egypt.
And today, the day off, I spent... not doing what my coworkers did... partying and hanging at the beach, but running amok. I am leaving Monday at 4:45 a.m. for the airport and a week away for the day job. This means more than just packing. It means meeting with the pet sitter to ensure the dogs will be walked at lunch when I'm gone, getting stuff for the trip, etc.
So today I did laundry. Paid bills DH forgot to pay b/c he's been working so hard this week (It was ok because he made dinner AND cleaned up last night). Today was cleaning up a bit b/c today is FIL's birthday and we're taking him to dinner, going to the grocery, bringing flowers to a friend whose birthday is tomorrow, calling to change a hair appointment (was on hold for 15 minutes, really!) and other stuff.
I did spend one lovely hour at the beach. Going to the beach in the middle of the season down here in S. Florida is like Times Square on New Year's Eve. It's crowded and fast. But I needed a beach day. So I took the Alpha Smart, my chair and drove and yay! Found a parking spot that wasn't 10 miles away.
I sat and looked at the sand and the rugged surf, and I wrote notes on the WIP. I did not make my needed goal of writing 4,000 words. Just made notes on where the later scenes will happen.
An hour later, I realized I had stuff to do. I picked up the chair and started to leave and got into a conversation with an absolutely lovely couple from England. We talked for about 10 minutes. They were wonderful. They said they figured I was an author when they saw me writing.
I told them I hadn't been to the beach in 5 months. Eventually I told them I also work FT for the day job.
They looked at me in pure amazement. "You work in addition to being an author?"
Me: "Yup. That's what I haven't been to the beach in 5 months!"
This year I am struggling. Really struggling. After writing 3 books last year and working FT, I am burnt out. Totally.
RT is next month, and my birthday. RT for me is not a vacation. It's my special time with readers and booksellers and my publisher(s). When I attend a convention, I want to make sure that any reader who wanted to meet with me, can. It's THEIR time.
Same reason why I stayed and stayed until the end at RWA...even though I hadn't any books to sign, due to a glitch. If one single reader wanted to meet me, I wanted to be there for them.
But RT, though it's fun and frantic and crazy and I'll enjoy seeing everyone, is not a vacation. It's busy and crazy. And DH won't be there.
I have a book out in May I have no time to promote. I'm leaving Monday for another work trip to an area I've never been to before and have no idea if the place where we will stay will be like last time, where I wondered if I'd be electrocuted while taking a hot shower.
And I realized this week that I'm really tired. And I will never be able to support myself by writing romance. Fact.
I'm a midlist author. It's just not going to happen.
Like most couples in the US, DH and I work hard. We don't spend a ton of money, but we're fortunate, because we still have our house, and our dogs, and despite the recession, we are doing OK. I'm very very grateful for that.
Like someone I know said, the money I do earn writing romance is for the privilege of being able to exercise the love of my craft. IE: getting published. I write romance, get books published and to get more books published, I have to promote so my sales are okay enough for publishers to buy more books.
But wow, some weeks, like this one, I really, seriously consider quitting.
There are readers like Ana and Aimee from RBL romantica who keep me going. And Gillian, who regularly comments here. And Mary, who wrote me last night. And many others.
Still, I keep thinking maybe I should quit... and then I could spend my free time not worrying about deadlines and book sales, but going to the beach to hang out with friends or actually having a spare moment and not be a hermit.
I think of Sherrilyn Kenyon, whom I personally admire and cheer on, and Christine Feehan, who is a superstar and a real, very nice person, and I realize there are good writers out there for others to read.
If I quit... would it be such a loss?
I know I'm never going to be the writer who makes the big lists, who gets the big contracts, the attention, the awards. I'm never going to be that great. I have friends whom I keep cheering on and hoping they will make the "big times."
Me? I'm thankful to get published, but I know it can never be a FT occupation for me.
And when I think about traveling next week, and returning to the hotel too weary to write, it makes me, again, think about quitting romance writing.
And then today I get a letter. Like someone is telling me something different.
I drove to the post office to drop off the (late) bills, and checked the PO Box. And I sat in my car reading this letter. It's from a woman who does stuff that is dear to my heart. She works with special needs adults, her home is open to teens who really need just a place to hang out and a good adult to talk to, and she tries to help when she can, to make the world a better place.
Yeah, I know that sounds corny, but hell, people who TRY mean a lot to me. You do what you can when you can, and you'd be surprised at how that effort adds up. Whatever you can when you can.
She just read The Cobra and the Concubine and loved it. Loved. It. She wrote only to tell me "thank you." She stayed up late reading it.
a thank you letter from a reader. Wow. She wrote, "Thank you, Bonnie. For a few days, you've given me another world."
So again, here I go. I've thought about quitting. Really considered it. But that letter, it was sincere, from the heart. And I realized... I don't want to let people like this down.
So thanks, Victoria from NC. You just handed a very weary author who wondered if the struggle is worth it, a reason to keep going. I will never reach superstar status, make enough money to support myself, but as long as there are readers like you who take time from their hectic lives to write a note and let me know what I'm doing with romance writing does matter to you, I'll keep going.
I may not be the Energizer Bunny, but I'll do my damn best. It's all I can do.