Now, I’m sure you’re wondering what this unfortunate imagery has to do with Author Your Life and the cool stuff going on. I’m getting to that. But, I’m wondering if some of you might recognize yourselves here.
My mom was always super proud of me and all of my sibs. We all had wildly different interests and talents, and she was always (and still is) super excited about all of them.
My grandmothers, who truly loved us, were less excited about my skills and talents. Actually, that’s not true. They were proud of me, but I learned very early that being proud of myself was a negative thing. That meant (dun-dun-dun) you were bragging. And that was definitely something that girls didn’t do.
Bragging has a very negative connotation. Pride usually doesn’t. But in my experience, if you even kinda sorta thought you’d done a good job with something and you were happy with the way something had turned out, you were totally bragging. (If you were a girl. If you were a boy, you were pretty much expected to crow.)
It wasn’t lost on me that whenever my maternal grandmother would knit something (her knitting was brilliant—she could literally make anything) or my paternal grandmother would embroider something, as soon as someone complimented whatever they’d made, they’d immediately point out the flaws. Flaws that unless you were a competition level knitter or embroiderer, you’d never see—and maybe not even then.
The dreaded Belittleasaurus got more powerful when I was in high school. For the first time in my life, I was being taught by nuns. A lot of nuns. That whole vibe of how wrong it was for girls to be ever proud of anything they did was quadrupled-down on. It wasn’t just a vibe there. Most of nuns gave it words and breath and life. And it became a matter of survival to play down anything I accomplished. Because bragging, or even the barest hint of it, was a one-way ticket to social ostracization.
For instance, I was the only girl in the trumpet section, and in 9th grade, I got first chair in the concert and marching bands. Obviously, it wasn’t because I’d worked my ass off practicing, right?! I brushed off my mom’s praise. I think I told her it was because the boys had colds. Seriously? All nine boys had colds? Sigh.
Anyway, if you’re still with me, all of this is to say that, as an adult, I thought I’d deep-sixed that dinosaur in a habit, but it was just hanging out, waiting for me, making ripples in the pond and offering all kinds of resistance when it came to getting excited about my accomplishments and, most recently, writing about the cool things that have happened since I started working with AYL.
It whispered things like, “It’s just a fluke. You’re not really affecting anything. Coincidence!” And when I would remind those voices that those things weren’t true, the dreaded Belittleasaurus would open its giant mouth and remind me that if I shared all this cool stuff with anyone—even if someone asked me to—I’d be bragging.
*cue all the anxiety ever*
So, I’m trying to muzzle my inner asshole dinosaur, so I can share some of these awesome things with you guys that have started happening since I began working with Author Your Life.
I was lucky enough to get to beta read Author Your Life. (I basically threw myself at Lara’s feet and volunteered as tribute.)
I was in a horrible depressive slump because of some bullshit life circumstances. Highlights include, both my husband and I working only contract jobs for three years (his old employer shut down the MI office and ageism is for real, yo), no health insurance (a family of four including a child who was in the midst of gender transitioning) trying to survive emotionally in this socio-political climate, and not being able to write because I was having to pick up all kinds of side work that paid immediately rather than eventually—like fiction.
But when I saw Lara’s initial FB post about this project, I had actual, real-live hope. I just had the strongest feeling that I had to read this book, and I had to read it now. When Lara agreed to let me beta it, I legit cried with relief. I just felt so strongly that this book was going to make a difference in my life and, boy howdy, has it ever!
For the last three or four years, I’ve kept a gratitude journal. It was my way of trying to start each day on a positive note and to combat negativity in my daily life. So, I’ve been poring through the journal, trying to read my horrific handwriting to share some highlights with you guys.
I admit that I got so overwhelmed and depressed that I’d stopped journaling for a while. My last entry was 1/23/18. When I started it up again, it was 1/21/19. Two days shy of a year. And I started beta-ing the book on January 10th. I did the exercises as I read.
When I started telling my story, Plot Twist, I promised myself that I’d keep my eyes open for opportunities the universe might be sending that I might otherwise ignore because change is hard and scary and so is putting myself out there. But I’d vowed that if things arose that required it, I’d do it.
I wrote about how my character made time for herself and her writing. That even when she had tons of client edits or audiobook preps scheduled, she still made time every day to work on her WIPs (works in progress). I wrote about how she got new clients who were less soul-sucking to work with and paid better. I wrote about how she had a great, comfy place to work where she wouldn’t be distracted constantly.
I wrote about how her existing publications were getting tons of recognition and people were buying and reviewing her books. I wrote about how she had more opportunities for reaching new readers and how much those readers were enjoying her books. I wrote about her wanting to have a better relationship with her body and food and exercise—specifically eating better and getting a rowing machine because it’s one of the few forms of exercise she doesn’t completely loathe. I wrote about how excited she was about her husband’s new amazing job.
I wrote about all of these things almost daily. I worked hard open up and feel the excitement about these things that were happening to my character. I worked hard on getting her to love and respect herself.
So, here are some great things that have happened since starting AYL on January 10th. (Not gonna lie, I just got that horrible flare of anxiety in my chest and stomach at the thought of publicly posting this, but the dino-muzzle is still firmly in place.)
• I started writing daily again. 1/12/19 (At present, I’m up to almost 60,000 words on three different projects, not including regular blog posts and flash fiction pieces.)
• My husband had an interview for a job in which he was basically a one in a million fit. 1/30/19
• I was invited to a slew of release parties for other authors where I was encouraged to promo my own books to their readers and have some giveaways. (I can’t remember the dates or how many—I think there were 4 or 5 of them.) but during that period, my monthly sales more than doubled, and that was with no new releases for me.
• We’ve had a room upstairs that’s functioned as a junk room for years. It was The Sacred Dumping Ground—that room where everyone shoves stuff when they don’t know where it goes. My husband and I made a concerted effort to clean it out and fix it up and, now, I have the perfect little writing nest at the top of the stairs with almost zero money spent.
• My husband had a second interview with the same company. 2/6/19
• MY FAVORITE BOOK I’VE EVER WRITTEN GOT REVIEWED BY PUBLISHERS WEEKLY ZOMG STILL EXCITED 2/15/19
• I was invited to write a short, multipart romance that will appear in a newsletter with a large number of subscribers for an independent bookseller.
• I was invited to do another round of release parties and increased sales, followers, and general awareness.
• This one was already in the works, but I was super nervous about it. Back in October, a popular indie author’s PA asked if I would be interested in participating in a 3000+ person reader group activity where the readers pick out elements via for a short story and the author gets 24 hours to write and post it. They usually end up hilarious and fun for everyone. As I mentioned, I was nervous. This was wildly out of my comfort zone. So, the week before the polls were set to go live, I wrote about how my character was going to nail this challenge and find connections between the oddball ideas to make a fun read. It worked! It ended up being really popular, and a large portion of the people who read it loved it so much they asked for a full length novel with these characters. And several people emailed me asking if they could share it with their friends who weren’t members of the group. And, as a side benefit, I made a lot of sales that weekend and got new followers. And the story itself was almost 7,000 words long. Not bad for 24-hours!
• During March and April, I got 1 new audiobook prepping client and 4 new editing clients—all of whom are a delight to work with.
• My husband had another job interview with that same place. 3/30/19
• I started working on healthier food choices in April and trying not to engage in emotional eating. And if I was emotionally eating, I’d acknowledge it and write a new story about it.
• My husband had interview number 4…?…5? with the same company. 4/27/19
• My husband was OFFERED A JOB WITH FULL BENEFITS (from the company of all the interviews ever) 5/2/19
• I’ve gotten a number of new reviews on various books I’ve written.
• Rewritten, my favorite book I’ve ever written, was listed as one of the best workplace romances on a book review site that I adore because they focus on feminist romances and books that smash the romance stigma. 5/11/19
• Found a great rowing machine in awesome shape on Craigslist for $40, and I’ve used it every day since. 5/14/19
Like a lot of people, I tried affirmations for years. But “I” statements never worked for me. As much as I wanted to, I never believed them. That whole garbage person was in there letting me know that I didn’t deserve those things I was saying. Worse, the dreaded Belittleasaurus really knew I didn’t deserve them and delighted in pointing out that saying all those lovely positive things about myself and my life was just another form of bragging.
But writing about this character? I can totally do that. I can write about her every day because I love seeing all these things unfolding and blossoming for her. I love seeing what’s possible. I’m excited to see what happens next both in the stories she’s writing and the ones that are being written about her.
Since starting this journey, I find that I’m willing to cut myself a little more slack. I’m willing to stop pointing out the flaws in everything I create. I’ve always had a hard time promoting my own work because to be excited about this thing I love felt like (say it with me) bragging. But, I’m getting better about owning my excitement and sharing it. The Belittleasaurus is still there, lurking. But I think I’m gonna relocate her to a nice deserted island. I’ll even give her some craft supplies so she can take up a new hobby.
I know that I have a ton of work to do still. but instead of being discouraged, I’m hopeful. I’m excited. I’m up to the challenge. But most of all, I’m grateful to Lara and this book, and this course, and to all of you for making this world a brighter more beautiful place. When we’re happy and truly living our best lives, writing our best stories, we can help others rewrite theirs. And who doesn’t want to spread a little happiness?
(Disclaimer I don’t think nuns are evil—not even these particular nuns. But they, like my grandmothers, were products of their time and societal conditioning.)
THANK YOU, Bronwyn, for this incredible post and for sharing so much of your journey with us!