I’m Glad I Did It

It’s been three weeks since I self-published Twenty-Five, and I have to say, I am so happy I did it.  Before taking this leap, I really wasn’t sure about self-publishing.  I’d read articles saying that the stigma had been lifted and more books were being published by the individual authors than by publishing houses now, but it was still a big risk for me.  What if I pressed the “upload” button and then never sold a single copy?  What if I did sell copies, but then got bad reviews?  I struggle with rejection issues, so this was one of my biggest fears.  I didn’t want to fail at this, at writing.

My book is my proudest accomplishment.  But, it still is strange for me when people I know read it.  Again, that fear of rejection.  What if they don’t like it?  Will that somehow mean they don’t like me anymore?  It’s so silly to be so proud of something and hold it to your chest without giving anyone else the chance to see how awesome it is.

So, I did it.  I took the chance and I created the e-book and the paperback.  And you know what?  People like it.  I’ve actually sold copies!  Sure, a lot of the copies I sold were to family and friends, but then again, a lot weren’t.  It’s only been three weeks, and I haven’t had thousands of downloads, but my book is in the hands of hundreds of people.  Hundreds.  I don’t  know if I ever expected that.  I haven’t made much money because the majority of those hundred were free downloads, but money isn’t the point.  The point is, I wrote a book and now people can read it.

And I can’t even tell you how awesome that is.

I can tell you, though, that it really makes me want to get another book out there for them to read!  I’m working on that.

Hey, Good to See You Again!

Wow.  So I haven’t written here since before my job interview.  Crazy.  So much has happened.  Let me catch you up.

I got the job!

And it has been great.  It really has relieved so much of the stress I was feeling on a daily basis.  I love the people I work with and my boss is just great.  All the signs were pointing to “I need a new job,” and not only did this job deliver, it’s been better than expected.  It was exactly what I needed at the time I needed it.

I was MIA on this blog for a couple of months because I was putting a lot of energy into the other blog I started, but after a while, that one sort of fizzled out as well.  I stayed away from here because I didn’t really have anything fresh to say about writing and I didn’t want to post random facts about my boring everyday life.  I know that’s not the best thought process, but what can I say? It’s how I was thinking.

It’s especially silly, because my life has not been all that boring.  But you know, hindsight is 20-20 and all.  I’ve been trying to keep focused on “Saying Yes” and my Happiness Project by seeking out new things.  One of those new things was running a 5k, which I did in December and again this past weekend!  I am still way out of shape (and I didn’t technically run the entire thing) but old Rachel would NEVER have even ATTEMPTED such an athletic feat.  I’m planning on another one in October with my sister and I’d really like to work up to running a 10k before my 30th birthday (358 days to go).

Another new thing, something I’ve been attempting for a long time, I wrote a second book!!!!!  I have been meeting at least once a month with a friend of mine to work on writing, but even that wasn’t giving me the motivation I needed, so I decided to go for NANOWRIMO.  It worked!  I finished the first draft of my second complete novel on November 30th, 2012!  I joined a critique group and have slowly been editing it and have just started the plans for books 2 and 3 in a trilogy.  I’ll post more about that book and plans for the sequels later, I promise.

The big BIG news, though, isn’t that I wrote a second book, it’s that I’m in the process of publishing my first!  I’ve always been supremely proud of Twenty-Five and it’s always been my goal to have it in actual book form at some point, and now’s the time.  I’ve got the momentum going and the support of my friends and family, so I’m going for it.  I read a lot of articles on the benefits of self-publishing and it feels right for me.  I did speak with a publisher, but they were new to publishing fiction and I just didn’t get a good feeling from them.  It felt like the only real benefit I’d get by going through them was a less-hands on marketing approach (I don’t like marketing) and that just doesn’t seem like enough for me to give up my control.  I’m still waiting to receive a Deal Memo from the man I spoke with, but unless that has some hidden perks we didn’t originally discuss, I think I’m going to opt out and publish on my own.  I’ve already done all the formatting and purchased the ISBN and my writing partner (who also happens to be a graphic designer) has already designed a beautiful cover.  I’m just waiting on the final touches to the cover and the chance to peruse the Deal Memo before I submit everything to CreateSpace and Kindle.  Hopefully, Twenty-Five will be available for purchase by mid-July.

All that being said, I will be taking the chapters down from this blog.  Thank you to all who read here and gave me feedback and encouragement.  It meant the world to me.  I plan on keeping the blog up-to-date as I go through the world of self-publishing and as I work to get my next book in a readable condition.  If I ever slack off, you have permission to yell at me!

A New Opportunity

I have a job interview on Monday!  It’s not exactly my dream job, but it’s so much closer than what I’m doing now.  I’d be working at a Rental Company, handling their invoicing and accounts receivable, and potentially doing some sales as well.  It would be a M-F 9:00-5:00 type of job, with only occasional weekend work and it seems like I would be making enough to only have 1 job.  ONE JOB!  Can you believe it?  I hardly can!

It has caused me a little stress though.  If I get the job, I pretty much have to end my career as a wedding planner (for now).  I really love the company I work for and I love my brides and grooms, so it’s a tough thing to give up.  I’d feel like I was letting so many people down.  On the other hand, it would be amazing to leave work at the end of the day and not come home to MORE work.  More free time at home means more time for writing, more time for family and friends, and more time for dating.  That’s time I can get behind.

I shouldn’t get too caught up.  I haven’t been offered the job yet, but it’s impossible not to consider the ramifications.  I had planned on taking a photography course at the local community college, but this job would be 20-30 minutes away from my new apartment, so I don’t know if I could make it back to the area in time for the start of the class (6:00).  Traffic in the area is not good at rush hour.  I realize a new job is way better than a random photography class, but I was looking forward to it.

There’s also the matter of my current day job.  While I don’t particularly like it, I do feel like my boss has been very good to me, and I would hate to leave him in a bind.  I know (and I’m not saying this out of vanity, but out of pure fact that I do a LOT of stuff that my job description doesn’t require) it would be difficult to replace me quickly, and he’s been having a tough time in the employment department with one assistant having to take a leave of absence/maternity leave when her son was born premature, another assistant about to go on maternity leave, and another employee gave her notice last month.  I would really hate to disappoint him.
In the end, I know it’s for the best for me if I get the job, it’s just hard thinking of having to tell those who count on me that they won’t be able to anymore!  Okay – I’ll stop worrying until I know if I’ve actually gotten the job!

It Goes Both Ways

It took me a while to realize it, but “Saying Yes,” doesn’t mean you always have to wait for someone else to ask the question.  Since being dumped by Match.com man, I made a goal to go on at least one date a month for the rest of the year.  Great goal, right?  I know!  Problem is, dating has never come easy to me.  Men don’t just fall into my lap.  Dates are not easy to come by.  I can’t just sit around and wait.  In order to meet my goal, I need to get out there and meet new people.

I’ve talked a lot about “saying yes” over the past year.  I realized that I need to stop waiting for people to invite me to new experiences.  I need to go out and make those new experiences happen.  I should be the one inviting my friends out to try new things.  I keep saying I want to go back to school, take some classes, learn new things.  On Thursday, I received a course catalog from a local community college.  I found a beginner’s photography class for only $69 that fits within my work schedule and I’m going to take it.  I convinced my writing buddy and her husband to go see a band with me.  Okay, maybe I didn’t convince them, but I did invite them and they did go!  Last week I invited a couple of friends to go drinking.  I’m tired of sitting around being lonely and I’m not going to do it anymore.

Saying yes goes both ways.  I’m going to seek out new experiences and I’m going to accept invitations to them.  I’m going to live.

It Isn’t Always Easy

It was not easy to be happy today.

I woke up at 7:00, as usual, and as usual, I checked my email first thing.  I don’t know why I feel the need to check my email as soon as I wake up, but I do.  I had an email from a man I’d been on 3 dates with saying that he didn’t feel a “spark” and that we shouldn’t continue seeing each other.  I was utterly baffled, because it had been less than 36 hours ago that we were making out like teenagers on my couch.  I’m not sure what happened to the spark, but apparently, it’s gone.

I tried my damndest to be cautious about my feelings for this guy, because I didn’t want to get hurt when it inevitably ended, but our second date was amazing and our rapport seemed so spot on, that I let myself become hopeful.  We had just enough in common to keep us talking and just enough not-in-common to keep it interesting.  And he was nice.  And funny.  And shared my devotion to the Oxford comma.  And he kissed me first, dammit!

I can’t figure out what went wrong.  I don’t think I did anything crazy or desperate or clingy.  In fact, I was super careful not to, while still being my amazingly awesome and quirky self.  I understand that dates are for “trying people on,” but after that third date, I felt pretty confident that he’d chosen to wear me out of the store.  After we watched a movie on my couch, he literally said, “I can’t take this anymore,” and kissed me!  He’d been working up the nerve to make a move throughout the ENTIRE movie, then comes back with “There’s no spark.”  WTF.

So, yeah, it wasn’t easy to be happy today.  I repeated one of the commandments to myself, “Fake it til you make it,” but it didn’t do me much good.  All of my co-workers could tell I wasn’t having a good day.  I tried to remember, “Laugh more, cry less,” but only succeeded in keeping the tears at bay until 6:00 PM, when I arrived home.

I finally decided to force myself to do something that would make me happy, so I started a new blog.  I’m not dropping this one; the new one is under a pseudonym and with a different hosting site and is basically going to be an outlet for my misadventures in dating, love, and (lack-of) sex.  I think it’s going to make me very happy.  Especially if I can get some readers.  Writing the first post made me feel a little better.  And writing this makes me feel a little better.  Tomorrow I may work on doing some actual writing on my novel.  Because that will make me very happy.

Update on My Happiness Project

I finished The Happiness Project and I’ve been trying really hard to follow my 12 Commandments.  I find myself using “Pause. Breathe.” and “Think Friends Before Finances” the most often.  I tell myself to “Do it Now” a lot, but I haven’t been great about actually following through on that one yet.  So I’m going to try and focus on less frittering and procrastination and more productivity over the next week.

To increase my happiness, in addition to the 12 Commandments, I’ve also decided to focus on being thankful.  I wrote a few thank you notes to friends, which I never would have done before, and I made a “Happiness Calendar.”  Gretchen talked about doing a one-sentence journal to record things that happened every day, and I loved that idea.  I saw on pinterest a calendar in a box with an index card for every day; you use the same cards for several years, writing down a sentence or two about something that happened that day, until your cards are filled up and you have 5-10 years worth of memories.  I made my calendar with the plan to use it to record moments that made me happy that day, not just any random thing that happened.  Hopefully it will make me more aware of things that make me happy throughout the day.

My 12 Commandments to a Happier Self

My boss gave me a $50 Target gift card for my birthday.  So, of course, I immediately went to Target and spent more than $50.  I’ll talk more about my over-shopping impulses in a minute.  On that shopping trip, I bought a book I’d heard about a while ago, “The Happiness Project,” by Gretchen Rubin.  I’ve been thinking (or I should have been thinking) about what I need to do to be a happier person.  I think for the most part, I’m fairly happy, but there’s a lot of things in my life that I’m disappointed in and this causes me to be grumpy, rude, and a buzzkill at times.  The point of The Happiness Project is not to change who you are, but to appreciate who you are and what you have, and this will lead to being happier.

Gretchen divided her happiness project into 11 parts and spent one month focusing on each goal, then the last month evaluating her total progress.  She started out by doing a lot of research on happiness and what philosophers, experts, and pop culture personalities believed about happiness.  She encourages her readers to take on Happiness Projects of their own and that every individual’s happiness project would be different.

As Gretchen developed her plans for each month, she discovered that (in her words) “some overarching principles started to emerge.”  She used these principles to develop her “Twelve Commandments,” or basically the rules she’d let guide her throughout her project.

I probably don’t have the time needed right now to fully develop my own happiness project, but I do want to be happier.  I love the idea and so I want to start small, even if I can’t start big.  I created my own 12 Commandments and I’m hoping they will help me as I go about my daily life to make better decisions- decisions that will lead to a happier self.

(1) Be Rachel.  The first of Gretchen’s commandments was “Be Gretchen,” by which she meant, there’s no point trying to change who you are or what you like, so instead, embrace it!  “You can’t choose what you like, but you can choose what you do.”  I’m going to follow her example, and Be Rachel.  One of my favorite things about myself is the ability to be passionate- about my favorite tv show, amusement parks, orange soda, etc.  The essence of “Being Rachel” is being passionate about really random things, so I plan to continue to explore that.

(2) Ask- Do I Need This?  I cause myself a lot of unhappiness by spending money on things I want, but don’t really need.  I end up broke, struggling to figure out how I’m going to pay rent, or my car payment, or my student loan.  It’s okay to splurge on little things every once and a while, but too often, I take that to the extreme.  I splurge on one thing, then another, then another, until all of my money’s gone and I’m not even using the things I splurged on.  I taped the mantra “Do I need this?” onto my debit card to encourage me to be mindful about every purchase.

(3) Pause.  Breathe.  I have a bad tendency to roll my eyes and to snap at people.  Luckily, I’m not alone in this.  Snapping was one of the faults Gretchen most wanted to control in her happiness project, too.  From now on, when I get annoyed or find myself losing patience, I’m going to think, “Pause.  Breathe.” and hopefully that will save me from doing something I’ll regret later on.

(4) Fake It til you Make It.  Gretchen spends a lot of time talking about the concept that if you act happy, you will be happy. I definitely know first hand that this works.  I often have to wear a fake smile at work, or use a fake cherry voice, but usually, those fake things fade out and I actually feel happy.  Now, whenever I’m having a bad day, I’ll just fake it til I make it.

(5) Move on from mistakes.  This is another huge source of unhappiness in my life.  I hold on to mistakes for weeks, months.  I dwell on them.  I feel guilty, I loathe myself.  And Gretchen points out that in her research she discovered that other people tend to forget your mistakes rather quickly.  So why am I dwelling on them if no one else is?  What’s the point?  Learn, and move on.

(6) Trust my gut.  I recently spent a few weeks texting with a guy who I didn’t really like, but who seemed to really like me.  My gut told me that he wasn’t a person I wanted in my life, and he was constantly pressuring me and making me feel guilty about not wanting to do things he wanted me to do.  I should have stopped the conversation at the first indication that I didn’t want to be talking to him, but I was flattered by his declarations that I was beautiful and sexy and that he couldn’t stop thinking about me.  Now I know, it was also kind of creepy.  I deleted his number from my phone.

(7) Think Friends before Finances.  This may contradict my earlier commandment to think “Do I Need This?” but actually, it really piggybacks off it.  In twenty years, I’ll remember the times I spent with my friends, having fun, experiencing new things, not the fact that I was struggling to pay my bills.  Friends are more important than stuff.  If I have the opportunity to go out to dinner or to the movies or to a concert, I can spend my money on it, guilt free.

(8) Don’t fritter- Do It Now.  “Do It Now”  is another of Gretchen’s commandments.  I am terrible at “doing it now.”  I fritter my time away constantly and then complain that I have no time.  I always feel better (and so does Gretchen) when I do something right away, rather than putting it off.  For example, I’ve started ironing my work uniforms for the week on Sunday nights.  It gives me a few extra minutes in the morning on workdays, which, as I’m not a morning person, is a huge thing.  Another example, I’ve left two loads of clean laundry just sitting in my apartment without putting them away.  Every time I say, “I’m going to fold and hang my clothes,” I find myself playing on pinterest, or watching TV instead.  And the sight of those baskets is a definite source of displeasure in my life.  I need to just put the clothes away already!

(9) Say Yes! Obviously this is something I’ve been trying to do for a while now.  You can look back at past posts on the blog to see my attempts at “saying yes.” It also ties in with “Think Friends before Finances.”

(10) Food will never make me feel better.  I use food as a reward and a source of comfort.  But I never feel rewarded or comforted when I eat something bad for me.  So I should stop that using food as therapy.

(11) Laugh more.  Cry Less.  I want to spend more time enjoying life than lamenting it.  I love to laugh, but I really don’t do it enough.  It’s enough to take pleasure in little things.

(12) Celebrate.  It’s important to celebrate even small victories.  Life putting away the clothes finally!  Or typing a blog post I’ve been putting off for a while.  Or actually losing a pound.  When I take the time to pat myself on the back for something I’ve achieved, it makes me focus less on things I haven’t achieved.  In a strange twist, it also pushes me to do more.  “Celebrate” is the capstone of my 12 commandments because when I accomplish any one of them I should celebrate.  And celebrations don’t have to be big.  They can be as much as doing a little dance, or sharing with a friend that I hit a goal, or taking time to do something that I really enjoy but have been putting off doing because of money (like a massage or a pedicure).

I’m excited to see if these commandments will actually help me lead a happier, more fulfilling life.  I’ll let you know.