I had a very enlightening conversation the other day. On the surface, it was all about gatekeepers and giving oneself permission to take up space. That, in itself, made it a juicy chat.
But then, upon further pondering (because that’s what people like us do, yes?), I saw there was a layer that went even deeper than just throwing hands and announcing ones intent to Do It Anyway.
We were speaking, specifically, of the publishing industry — of how you could choose either traditional publishing (which relies on an external “yes” from the gatekeepers) or you could choose to Do It Anyway and self-publish. On the outside, the indie route looks to be entirely free of that gatekeeper nonsense…which is what attracted me in the first place. Because I’m impatient, I don’t like rules or other people’s agendas dictating what I can or cannot do.
I’m also a little control-freaky when it comes to my creative work. For instance, it would be really, really hard for me to accept a not-what-I’d-envisioned cover for a book for which I’d wrung out my heart and soul.
But I digress.
This is and isn’t about indie publishing.
What I realized upon further noodling, that despite having a fundamentally rebellious nature, I have a persistent tendency to make rules for myself, based entirely on assumptions/information from external sources…and then be thoroughly unmoving in my adherence to them.
Which usually ends up leaving me frustrated, petulant, disgruntled and very, very crabby.
Naturally, I blame the internet. Because, by default, I blame it for everything ;).
Seriously though, the internet thrives on rule-making —- even in the, allegedly, footloose and fancy-free LYD* circles. It doesn’t take much investigation to unearth plenty of examples about How You Should Do…well, pretty much everything.
In my quest to Learn All of the Things, I subconsciously took on a lot of these Rules For Everything. I made rules for myself about what homesteading looks like; I made rules for myself about what simple living looks like; I made rules for myself about what earth-conscious living looks like and I made rules for myself about what indie creativity and publishing looks like.
In the process of doing that, not only did I thoroughly discourage myself with standards and expectations that didn’t suit me, but I also spun myself into a whirlpool of anxious gloom. And as a person susceptible to lingering a shade too long in the Dark, that’s not really whirlpool I want to be spinning in.
So where to now? Now that I have this little enlightened nugget of knowledge about myself? (garnered, I might add, because I gave myself the time and space, the gift of Not Doing that let my thoughts be thinky).
I’m not entirely certain, to be honest. It’s all still a bit revelatory and surreal. But I do feel like it’s helping me with a deeper level of discernment — I’m holding thoughts/decisions/impulses up to the lens of my values , as opposed to my “aspirations”. It means I’m letting myself have a little re-think of everything I thought I wanted — and how I might get there.
It means the Great Veg Debate takes on a whole different meaning. :)
It means the hows and whys of fiction publishing have me standing on the edge of a cliff on a blustery day with Caution in my hands. ;)
It means yet-another Instagram holiday and another pruning of the things that make their way into my digital letterbox.
But it’s also got me feeling that old tingle of excitement and enthusiasm that has long been missing from my days. It’s just a whisper of a thing right now, a faint glow, but it’s enough to keep me plodding onwards…onwards towards a life done my way - so entirely my way that there’s no room for worrying what everyone else is doing or how I might be falling short of someone else’s standards and expectations.
Which perfectly suits my contrary soul.
*Live Your Dream…..formerly the Live Your Creative Dream movement, but now it’s expanded to include all-encompassing lifestyle standards of excellence (insert eye-roll emoji here)