Monday, July 29, 2013

Paralyzed by Fear of Failure or is it Really the Need to Make Decisions?

I published my children's book, Little Saint Therese, about a year ago as a self-published, print-on-demand book through The Book Patch. I bought one as a proof copy, uploaded some minor changes, and then bought some more to give away as review copies or gifts.

A year later, I have still bought more books myself than anyone else has bought. I'm sure I shouldn't admit that publicly, but hey, there's a point to my openness.

Yes, the book is geared to a very specific age group and no, I don't promote it very much. But I think there's something more going on here, too. Who's ever heard of the Book Patch? (No offense, Book Patch folks; you do a great job on the publishing and mailing!). 

And where do you go to find out more about a book? Amazon, right? But my book isn't on Amazon. Naturally, it doesn't come up in any Amazon searches for children's saint books or children's Catholic books or what-have-you. 

Six months ago, give or take a few, I was ready to publish my Myers Family Vintage Cookbook (or whatever name I ultimately settle on). But I had a Total Formatting Fail when I tried to upload it at The Book Patch. So I began to think maybe I should publish it somewhere else. I also realized the formatting was a huge learning curve for me, wherever I published it. And my publishing ventures are not all that I have on my plate, so it kept getting shifted down to a lower priority. You know how it is when you feel something is a major project, right? 

This morning I finally sat down, determined to do something about the cookbook. And that's when I realized that it's not so much fear of failure that has been paralyzing me, as I had begun to think. It's actually more the need to make decisions! I started this morning's questions with: How much do I want to charge for Kindle books? Then I realized I needed to decide - for the physical book - between CreateSpace (Amazon for print-on-demand) and Lulu (print-on-demand company which also enables you to offer your book on Amazon). 

So I did some research and found...mixed reviews. I really want spiral binding for the cookbook, which CreateSpace doesn't offer.  But people say Lulu is more expensive. Some people were even concerned about the cost of buying their own copies. I have a lot of copies to buy. But I also want spiral binding.

So then it dawned on me. I don't hope to make money selling print books. I mean, I'm not going to give them away (well, not too many of them); but selling print books is not my main plan. It's the Kindle books that I hope to sell in volume (when I finally get them there). That will be my "book business", so to speak.

I want the print books for the copyright registration, and for me and my family, and for gifts, and for review copies. If someone else wants to buy them, too, that's terrific. But that spiral binding is more important to me right now than a place on Amazon, and my budget is limited. I want my next book, too - my Minute Psalm Retreats - to have spiral binding. And again, once they are in print, I hope to put them all on Kindle, and that's where I hope to make any volume sales. 

So, for now, for this 'set' (if you will), why not continue with the print-on-demand publisher that I already know? Now that I've made a decision, I hope I can move forward again! 

Have you ever procrastinated because you were avoiding making decisions? 

Next Day: I think I have tweaked yesterday's decisions. But that doesn't change the concept that the need to decide on the next direction can sometimes hold us back! 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Finger Pointing Doesn't Help

I've diminished my Facebook use and even my email inbox is "bugging me" these days. Here's why:

I wish, before people would pass along this or that "black-on-white crime", thinking they prove a point, that they would check to see if the killer was arrested and charged. In all the "black-on-white" stories that I have seen people post, the killers were definitely arrested and charged and - if it has already gone to trial - convicted.

The only similarity between those stories & the recent case that brought national attention is that someone was killed. The differences in the recent case were that no one was arrested and charged in the weeks after someone died; that evidence had not been properly preserved; and so much information & misinformation was publicized (because otherwise, nothing was being done at all)...and that this affected the ability to even find a jury. 

If someone wants to pass along every "black-on-white" and "black-on-black" crime story that comes their way, thinking that it proves a point, I wish they would ask who bombed the Oklahoma federal building...and who shot up schools and malls and a theater?  My parents taught me when I was a little girl that there is crime in every race. 

If we say, "Why are people making this about race?" and then we turn this into finger-pointing & drag out and publicize every crime we can find, and imply "these people" commit all these crimes, then I believe we answer the question very well as to why this is about race. 

If that sounds harsh, I'm sorry, because I'm sure many people re-post these things without even thinking, or because they simply don't understand the differences between the cases and they are tired of hearing about it. I'm sure some of them don't really mean what they seem to imply. 

But it makes me wonder if maybe we do need to think a little more carefully about this subject!  

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Things People Say about the Zimmerman Case

"Why do people bring race into this? There was this black-on-white crime that happened in this other state, and that's not on the national news." When someone tells me that, or posts it on Facebook, I look at the story they refer to. And every time I see that someone was "arrested and charged" for the crime. Therein lies the difference.

I have yet to hear a story of black-on-white in which the person was allowed to simply walk away free, without so much as an arrest or a trial. This is what happened in this case until the national news brought it to our attention. And that delay is why evidence was not properly preserved and why the jury pool was sparse because so many had already heard so much about the case.

"There was equal fault on both sides." No one really knows for sure what happened out there. But whatever happened, can't people conceive that Martin either knew or sensed his life was in danger (as we know that it actually was). Can't we consider that he may have been the first one who acted in self-defense?

"It was decided in a court of law; so it's over. "  It was decided in a court of law, so it's over until the next court, perhaps a civil trial from the family, or perhaps a trial by a higher court. A verdict of 'not guilty' demonstrates that a crime wasn't proven to the satisfaction of a jury, who cannot convict if they have reasonable doubt. But we will never know whether the jury would have decided differently if they had been given the 'initial aggressor instruction' to consider, because the defense objected to it and it was left out of the jury instructions. (One explanation of that is here.). It's also not "over", in that people are allowed to legitimately seek ways to make changes in laws for the future.

"I wish we could stop talking about race."  There was a time in my life when I felt that way, too, so I understand that sentiment. After all, as my late son Paul used to say (although he wasn't denying the existence of problems), "we are all the same race, the human race". Wouldn't it be nice if everyone just respected everyone else equally? Unfortunately it seems that in some parts of our country - and perhaps in some hearts - these conversations are still necessary. We need to have those conversations not only in society but also in our families, where we teach one another to build people up and respect them, whatever our similarities and differences may be.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Storage, A Piano, and Learning to be Kind to Myself

I don't need any more books. I don’t need to get more books simply so that the ones on the bottom shelves of my bookcase don't ruin one another. You know that books get ruined if you don't have enough of them on the shelf, right? Seriously, I need to decide whether to add another crate of loose materials or to stack some of the books atop one another, rather than side by side. 

But I kept thinking of the old Value Tales books that are tucked away, somewhere in our storage unit. Even though they are not in very good condition, I keep them for the content. I needed to know where and how to fit them into the bookcase space and,  besides, I just wanted to get them into our home space and out of our storage space.

I don't recommend off-site storage units, but we came to Baltimore from a five-bedroom house in rural Kentucky with an abundance of storage space in the garage and attic, as well as lots of living space. In addition to having a large house, both of us inherited plenty of "pack-rat" in our upbringing. We eliminated a lot of things for our relocation but we were not able to whittle down enough to transition to an apartment, without renting a little more real estate, ten miles from home. 

So, my son and I went to “storage” yesterday. We never found the Value Tales. But we found something in worse condition than those books: the storage unit itself. We found boxes with water damage, some still damp. Worse, we found what looks like some water damage on the cover for the keys of the piano…the piano that belonged to my father-in-law when he was a boy. The piano my husband has been missing so badly since we came to Baltimore.

My son and I tried to get in touch with management to look at the damage, but they were not answering their calls and although the office was open, we could find no one there. So we went home, and we will need to go back, along with my husband, to assess the damage and to get management to fix the roof.

After we went home yesterday, I kept catching myself using self-talk that was less than charitable. I was getting mad at myself for stupid little things, stupid little nothings, and finally I realized this was the “old me” popping up…that I have learned better than that. But where was it coming from?

I think I was blaming myself for the possible damage to my husband’s precious piano. If I had cleared out more at home, maybe we could have made room for it. Or perhaps I should have found out sooner that we could bring it here, even though we live on an upper floor (it was not allowed at our first apartment in Baltimore, unless you lived on the first floor). Or maybe if I had waited to have us move from one community to another, waited until we could get a first floor apartment here, maybe we would have brought the piano home from storage.

That was when I realized the folly of my runaway thoughts! If we had gotten a first floor apartment here - at least in any of the buildings on our street - we could have lost everything a couple of years ago when the creek flooded. We helped a neighbor move out after that flood and it wasn't pretty. 

Stuff just happens. Not everything that happens can be prevented. Wow, it’s amazing that I am still fighting that philosophy that was drilled into me when I was a child, “What could you have done to prevent this?” or, “How could we keep something like this from happening again in the future?”

It’s good to take care of our people and our things, but there is a balance to life. We need to do our duties, and we need to make decisions. But then, we need to let go.  We cannot control life. I don’t think we were ever programmed to control every circumstance.

If we have actually done something intentional that hurt someone, we need to seek forgiveness. But whenever we feel we may have contributed to a problem, whether intentionally or unintentionally, we also need to forgive ourselves.  We need to “let go and let God”.  Let God bring good out of evil. Let God love us.

As for the piano, it may be better off than I first thought. But, whatever the case, life and its lessons play on. 

Follow-up: We went back on Saturday and were delighted to learn that the piano plays as well as ever and only has minimal cosmetic damage. It was already old, with some cosmetic damage, so we are just happy that it is still good, musically. The owner of the storage facility repaired the ceiling, and the only other things damaged were some boxes, mostly empty...and the piano bench pad I made some years ago, which was in a box that got damaged. The piano books in that box were protected by the bench cushion.