Wednesday, June 25, 2014: Everyone Struggles
Happy Wednesday, everyone! Welcome to the weekly blog. This week’s blog is going to be a personal one. I recently met a woman named Dawn, who told me about her God-daughter, Tashema Dawson. Late last year, Tashema published her first book, Legunda’s Fictional Pack: The Ultimate Choice, with a company known as Xlibris. Now, let’s back track for a moment. I’ve talked about Xlibris before. If you scroll down to the bottom of this page, and read the first posted blog, you’ll learn exactly how I feel about Xlibris. They are a publisher that is strictly “print-on-demand”. They are not in the business of selling books, like a traditional publisher. They make money by overcharging authors to print books, and then setting the prices of those books so high, they don’t sell. Now, let’s come back to the present…
Dawn told me Tashema is feeling frustrated, because she is unable to get her books into bookstores, and it isn’t doing well. She would like to publish a second book, but her confidence is waning. I assured Dawn I knew exactly how Tashema felt, and to tell her not to give up. I had worked with Xlibris before, but I had switched to a new publisher. I told her about the money I had wasted with Xlibris, and how I hadn’t seen any results either.
This made me think of all my fellow writers, artists and musicians. There are so many talented people in the world, who are just looking for an opportunity to show the world what they’re made of. But, there are too many people who seek to destroy the dreams of another, or who just want to take advantage. Believe me, I know this all too well. So, I want to tell you a story:
Once upon a time, my mother and I were caretakers for a house in Newport News, Virginia. We lived rent free. Then my Uncle Donald suggested we move to Georgia, where the rest of the family was currently living. So, we gave up most of our furniture, and I was forced to give up my beloved cat (on the day of the move, btw) and moved into Donald’s house with him and his girlfriend. The six months we lived in his house, were the worst six months of my life. Donald and his girlfriend constantly fought and argued, and both of them turned out to be liars and were completely insane. Donald snapped one night and kicked everyone out of the house, leaving my mother and I homeless. We managed to scrape together enough money to get a motel room, but we couldn’t stay there long. Luckily, Mom contacted her aunt in New York, and we drove up there to live with her. We spent the next few years, trying to get back on our feet.
During that time, I continued to write, and eventually published Fortune’s Wing and Valentine. My Uncle Glen, who is also a writer, contacted me and offered to get me into Dragon Con: an annual sci-fi/fantasy convention in Atlanta. Glen said I’d be able to sell copies of my books there. So, I spent money ordering books and airfare, only to arrive in Atlanta and learn none of this was going to happen. Glen hadn’t made any arrangements at all, and said I should have done my homework concerning the convention (even though he contacted me about it).
Still, I kept writing, and published Fortune’s Wing Second Flight. I spent money on a marketing campaign with Xlibris for the American Library Association’s annual convention, which turned out to be nothing more than a large room with my book, and thousands of others, on a shelf, going completely unnoticed. Even with this, I kept on going…..
Three years ago, Mom and I learned our land lord’s house was in foreclosure. We would have to leave the apartment we were renting from him. My Uncle Arthur contacted us about an investment he had made in Iraqi dinars, saying he was about to cash in. He said we could come and stay with him, and we could actually afford to quit our jobs (which we did), because he would give us a portion of his money. So, back to Georgia we went. It turns out, his house was in foreclosure, he wasn’t working because he had been sitting around counting on his investment to save him. In the end, we ended up back in New York, and he ended up losing his house. To this day, he still hasn’t cashed anything in.
Somehow, during all of these events, I have managed to keep writing, and have published five books, taught myself to play guitar, and continued to draw. Despite all of the things I have been through with my family; all of the time and money they have made me waste, the fact they have left me homeless (twice), I know I have to keep going. I’m not telling you this to gain your sympathy, I’m telling you because I want all of you to understand we’ve all been through something. Everyone struggles. I’ve found more support through strangers than through my own family.
My message to everyone reading this blog, is to never give up. No matter what your situation is, keep going. If you’re a writer, keep writing. If you’re an artist, keep creating your art. If you’re a musician, keep making music. Don’t ever give up, no matter how difficult things become. One day, you will succeed. If you’re reading this, it means you are alive; you’re here, and everything you do, matters.
Until next week.