“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.” ~Henry David Thoreau
It seems like every day or so, I see events happening on the net where other writers I’m familiar with are out there promoting themselves and their books. Group chat sessions, guest blogging, attending conferences, holding contests, slapping pictures of naked men on FB. When I see it, that voice in my head says, “You should jump in and do that too.” Then the conflict begins.
On the one hand, I do want to promote my books and expand my readership. I’m proud of my work and want people to enjoy what I’ve struggled to accomplish. On the other hand, I’ve been told not to promote my books, I need to promote myself, and I simply dislike talking about myself.
I’m an introvert, I hate big crowds, I dislike chatting online, and I loath gabbing about myself. I like to sit in a room alone, open my heart, and pour my soul on to the page. That’s how I talk about myself, through fictional characters. I put on their mask and speak through them. Take me out of that lonely room, and I clam up.
I do, however, enjoy engaging people in a face-to-face, one-on-one situation. Give me a glass of wine on a patio at sunset and I’ll talk all night, not so much about myself or my work, but a two-way exchange of ideas.
I often feel the need to create some workable balance between my spiritual/personal growth through work and the part of my life where I need to put myself out there to promote my work.
So why do I question my instincts, and try to change my habits?
I do it because I think I should want to be more successful (in terms of how many people read my books), because other people do it and it seems to work for them, because this is my profession and if I don’t do it nobody else will, and because I fear I may be somehow missing out.
Ultimately, I generate a flurry of mental drama just to avoid standing by my own convictions, and accepting there’s nothing wrong with them. Ironically, I end up missing out on what I actually want to do when I worry about what I might be missing by not doing something else.
I suspect many of us push ourselves to do things because we think we should. I understand that sometimes we need to do things we don’t enjoy, if they’re part of a larger process we’re committed to.
But when it comes to the big decisions about where we’re going professionally, or how we spend our time, don’t we owe it to ourselves to recognize what makes us happy and what doesn’t?
Acting against our instincts only reinforces that there’s something wrong with them—and there isn’t. There are no right or wrong choices. My “right” path must look totally different that every other writer, and all are entirely valid.
So for at least for today, I think I’ll allow myself to be drawn to what genuinely feels right without questioning myself. And I’m hoping that you will do the same.