Sunday, February 23, 2014

Putting together the pieces

I hope that I am perhaps climbing out of this funk. I was able to get up and do a few things around the house today, though only for about an hour and now I am trembly and exhausted and overwhelmed again. But it is progress.

I have a very big week coming up. Initially I thought I would be lucky if I had any time to myself at all, and now I am realizing that I need to take time for myself. Taking a few minutes to blog might wind up saving my sanity.

Image: Valentin.Ottone/Flickr
See, I have a [censored] load of work to do. It's only when I'm hurting and vulnerable and unsure of myself that I really feel it. I need to finish (still) the re-writes on Strength to Stand, which I've been promising for four years will come out "soon," and then I work on other people's books instead. I need to create my new website, now that I've built the new company website and learned how to create a truly custom site. I need to create a mailing list (and a newsletter—Gaak!) and find people who might write blurbs and honestly, I need to take a little bit of my brain and really start thinking of myself as an author.

I was an author. And then I became a publisher, and the author part kept getting pushed aside. If I can integrate myself and Rivka, I can certainly integrate my publisher self and my author self into my workday. Can't I?

People have no idea what goes into being a publisher, which is something that I'll write more about on the Yotzeret blog sometime soon. I'm very much a one-woman shop. I read queries and consider possible acquisitions. I read manuscripts for possible contract offers. I negotiate contracts. I am editor (though when sales are good enough, I will contract out for editing, to free up my time to do other writerly or publisherly things). I am book designer, cover designer, web designer, publicist, pre-press editor. I will drive 200 miles one way to pick up a print run of books, schlepping them into my van, then into the (small) warehouse I rent for inventory. I pick and pack books to fulfill orders. I am office manager, shipping manager, customer relations, collections, and accountant. Among other things.

People depend on me for all of the above. Authors' royalty checks are determined in part by how well I do my job. As a somewhat-recovering people-pleaser, this is both a source of pride and stress. (Guess what the number one cause of fibromyalgia flares is? Stress! Ah, but I digress.)

I am also a mom, chef, chauffeur, house manager,  gardener, repair woman, school volunteer, etc., etc. All those things that go into why an at-home mom should be paid some $113K a year.

Somewhere in there, I need to reclaim myself as an author too. Because everyone needs at least three full-time jobs, right? Writing is the one thing that makes me feel fully alive. Writing is one of the key things that makes me feel Jewish. Writing helps me discover who I am, how I relate to the world, and how I relate to G-d. Writing takes me out of my body; it takes the dis out of disability. And writing is the one thing that I've been willing to give up in order to tend to all of my other jobs.

And now I realize why. Because all my other jobs, whether they benefit me tangentially or not, are primarily for other people. Writing is the only job that is just for me.

This morning I woke up to the critical voice in my head saying, "Okay, enough with all the whining all over your blog. Two posts is probably two too many. Way to alienate your readers, girl."

That's when I realized: I was no longer writing what I thought others wanted to hear. I was now writing what I wanted to write. I was writing what most needed to come out. I am writing for me.

That said, I hope you'll come along for the journey.


Shira Salamone said...

It's important not to lose *yourself* in the process of doing for others. To paraphrase an old rabbinic saying, now go and write.

Sheyna Galyan said...

So very true! And yes, it's hard. Especially when there's an undercurrent of "you don't deserve it" with the depression. Doing for others is unquestionably worthy. Doing for self makes for a harder argument.