One year ago, I turned off my computer, took a final glance around my workspace, picked up the last box of my belongings, and walked out of the office where I’d worked for the last nine years, eight months, three weeks, and two days.
After talking about it for more than a year, Captain Cavedweller and I agreed it was time for me to pursue my dreams of writing full-time.
Saying goodbye to the security of my day job, along with the benefits and the income, wasn’t something that was easy. It was, in fact, incredibly hard to take such a huge leap of faith.
And that is definitely what that major step in my life was and continues to be – leaps of faith.
There are two things I try to do on this blog – keep things upbeat and not get into religious or political views. I rarely talk about my faith or beliefs, but I can’t write today’s post without sharing from my heart and that means including faith.
When one is blindly leaping into an unknown future, it can be scary, unnerving, and terrifying. Faith is definitely something you learn to lean on when your mind tends to race with a plethora of horrific “what if” scenarios (none of which have come true!).
However, the past year has not been all bonbons and roses.
If I could have gazed into a crystal ball and viewed the struggle I would endure in the coming months, I can’t honestly say I would have left my job. I would have been too frightened to take that leap of faith.
But if I hadn’t given up the security net of my full-time job, I would never have known the wonder of falling into the Father’s capable hands. Leaps of faith can take us to wondrous places, if we’re willing to let ourselves fall.
We sometimes sing a hymn at church with the words, “In love the Father ever veils the future, hides from us tomorrow’s care…” That hymn has taken on a whole new meaning for me because I truly believe sometimes our fear and anxiety and worry holds us back from following God’s plans for us.
If we could see into the future, know that a deep, dark valley awaited us before we could climb out on top of a glorious mountain, we might plant our feet right there are refuse to move. That’s why it’s so important to take those leaps of faith when you feel God’s hand giving you a little nudge to jump. Instead of resisting – fall forward with faith.
At the time I turned in my resignation, my book sales were far beyond anything I imagined. Based on the eighteen months of sales prior to then, the trends indicated my book sales would continue to do better and better in the coming months.
Expecting a personal record-breaking holiday season, my sales went the opposite direction and by mid-winter, things looked unbelievably grim. I tried everything imaginable to boost sales from doing giveaways and offering freebies to playing with search engine optimization and keyword tags. Nothing seemed to help.
Despite my ever-growing depths of despair that I might have to give up my dream and find a new job, I got up every day and wrote, working on improving my craft while creating new stories. Spring brought a welcome increase in sales with the release of Ilsa, the third book in the Pendleton Petticoats series.
Although my book sales have yet to return to the levels they were at a year ago, I’m no longer obsessively concerned. Instead, I’m heading into the fall season with a hopeful outlook.
You see, I’ve learned a lot about myself in the past twelve months.
After a very long, cold, dark winter (and I don’t mean the weather outside), I realized I equated my value as a person to the number of books I sold each month. I measured my success solely on the daily number of book sales. Each day the sales didn’t reach my expectations, I felt like a complete failure.
At the lowest point of my miserable winter, I realized I wasn’t living like a person who took a huge leap of faith. I wasn’t living my faith. I was barely living at all.
When you spend all day every day alone with yourself and your thoughts, you can get so far into your own head, it’s a bad, scary thing, especially when you feel like an abysmal loser.
Taking a long, hard look at where I’d been, where I was, I knew I needed to change my mindset going forward.
Yes, I’m focused and driven in my work. Yes, I take writing extremely seriously and am determined to continue to get better and better at it. Yes, I’d love to see just one of my books be wildly successful, hitting all the bestsellers lists or turned into a Hallmark movie.
But I learned to disassociate my self-worth from my books. Whether I sell two or two thousand or two million, it doesn’t change who I am.
Who I am is a very fortunate girl, with wonderful people in my life who make my heart sigh with gladness.
One of the first things I did after my epiphany was make a list of all the things I’d accomplished that made me feel successful. I’d not only written and published a book and had moderately successful sales based on industry standards, I’d written 26 books in just four years. On top of that, I did something a very small percentage of people will do – I left behind the security of a full-time job to pursue my dream of writing. So what if book sales weren’t where I expected them to be – I was living my dreams!
And I began focusing on being grateful for what I had.
Gratitude is such am amazing thing – the more you look for things to be grateful for, the more you realize you have much for which to be thankful.
I began feeling grateful for each book that did sell, for each review that was written (although the nasty ones are still a little challenging to be completely grateful for, although I’m trying!), for each lovely, wonderful person who made the time and effort to send me a note letting me know how much they enjoyed my books.
I’m grateful for this gift of being able to turn words into stories that mean something to others.
I’m truly grateful for this opportunity to get up each day and do something I love so much that brings me immeasurable joy and satisfaction.
I’m grateful beyond words for the beautiful friends I’ve made online who encourage and inspire me to keep on going. (You know who you are and although we’ve never met in person, I am thankful for you each and every day!)
I’m so, so grateful for Captain Cavedweller. He has cheered me on, held my hand, let me cry on his shoulder, and offered unconditional love and support every step of the way.
I’m grateful I didn’t know what the past year held in store. Because of taking a big leap of faith, I’ve also learned to take one step at a time in faith, trusting that each new day will bring a grand new adventure. Looking back, I wouldn’t trade the past year if I could. It made me grow, both as a person and as a writer, and I needed those experiences to get to where I am.
I’m grateful to be so blessed – one year ago… and today, and a year from now.