By John W. Mefford
I’m not the first, and I certainly won’t be the last. So, you can hardly call me an early adopter or trend setter. What stupendous feat have I accomplished that garners such an introduction? I am an author. Let me amend that a bit…I am a self-published author, better known as an “Indie.”
My new title became official on November 1…rather, 11.1.11, which is how I marketed the launch date for COMMITTED, my debut novel. That was one of many decisions I’ve made in the last several months. Some are known by many, some are only known by me.
Life as an independent anything can be dubious. Self-doubt is at least a minority partner, sometimes the lone voice echoing in my mind. Not about the big creative decisions, usually. Where to take a story, how to spice up a scene, when to toss a curveball into a plot…those are natural blood-rushers. I might have an internal debate, and I might change my mind a dozen times, but that’s what this writer lives for. It’s the 32 other decisions that need to be made, sometimes daily. It’s deciding for which of those decisions you absolutely need another voice. You have to pick your spots when you’re an Indie asking for favors.
When you initially cross the railroad tracks to the other side, away from the purebreads to the land of mutts, you have no idea what adventure is only steps away. One moment you can be gazing across the scenic valley and only see a lush tree line with jagged mountains acting as a perfect backdrop. It’s majestic, yet simple. On the very next step your foot slips like it’s lined with grease and you tumble down a 50-foot slope landing in a pool of mud (think of Michael Douglas in “Romancing the Stone.”) Once cleaned off, you see snakes slithering on vines, you hear strange noises, and the blossoming trees block out the sun. It’s a world of unknowns, where you realize you have to navigate it without any certainty of where you’re going, let alone if you’ll ever get there.
For many in this position, they flourish. They are independent-minded people who thrive when working alone. I’m only partially built that way. I have a need to not be mixed in with the herd of cattle, but my background is corporate America. I was a manager, a leader of people. I was the visionary, the one who could see the ominous clouds before most and create a path to success. I enjoyed coaching people and working as a team to accomplish any far-fetched goal.
But life as an Indie is different. On the very same day, I can be the role player, the grunt who sweeps out the garage, and the star athlete. While others provide loads of support, I am my own coach and my most fervent fan. There are no pats on the back, no raises, nor any bonuses or stock awards. In fact, my motivation has mostly changed. Sure, I hope to be able to sustain a living writing novels and maybe even slide into film. But each task I accomplish – large or small – I consider a little victory. I may be the only person who witnesses it, but I accept each little victory as a win for the home team…my team.
Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of good people out there…plenty. But early on, I couldn’t tell the difference. I was lost in a sea of misguided information. And with patience listed low on my virtue list, frustration set in on a daily basis. Yet as I took baby steps, I would receive an occasional helping hand or encouraging comment. And the first five-star review gave me the ultimate high. I re-built my professional psyche one brick at a time, personally taking ownership of every aspect of my new career. I positioned each clay block, threw some mortar on it and pressed on it until I believed it wouldn’t budge, allowing me to move on to the next brick and the next.
As a proud Indie author, I don’t holster a whip, and a little monkey isn’t snickering at my obvious puns, but I am a crusader carving out my own unique path, one little victory at a time. And I realize I’m not the last crusader…nor do I want to be.
I wanted to take a brief moment to thank all the readers who’ve provided this debut author some great early memories. I’m honored that you’ve given me the opportunity to move you…just as my first story moved me enough to craft it.
Speaking of stories, I’m more than knee-deep in Book Two of The Michael Doyle Chronicles. I still have some carving to complete, but I’m very excited about the new story, how characters will be pushed to their limits, and who won’t make it out alive. The book title is still a work in progress, but my tentative release date is March / April 2012…just around the corner in the literary world. Stay tuned. And if you haven’t had an opportunity to read COMMITTED, I invite you to take the plunge and enjoy the journey!