My Juggling Act

My dad can juggle better than anyone I know and I used to be amazed at how he kept the balls rotating in the air. A former friend of ours was also very talented at the act of juggling and even tossed fiery batons into his routine to dazzle and amaze us. And I was. It takes some pretty good coordination to pull that off without setting yourself or the ground on fire. I’d singe my fingerprints off.

I’ve tried juggling things like oranges, golf balls, or hacky sacks, and for about thirty seconds I really kick ass at it. I can see the looks of amazement on everyone’s face as they’re impressed that I can not only toss a ball up into the air, but also juggle them. It really is Letterman material. That is, until someone talks or I breath or pass gas or think, “Hey, look! I’m juggling.” At that point, I’m getting bonked in the head by oranges and seeing stars spinning in my vision.

Hopefully, I’m better at juggling my writing.

I’m not just talking about the several manuscripts I work on at one time. I can keep those spinning round and round pretty well. No, I’m talking about juggling the creative aspect with the business end. This is all new territory for me and as my first novella is about to come out next month, I’m a little nervous.

I’ve been working hard on platform building, branding yourself some call it. Not the hot iron type of branding that will leave a raised mark forever on one’s skin reminding them what a drunken idiot they were one night. This is the branding of one’s name so that people recognize you out of all the other writers out there. Sort of like how Levi’s stands out in the world of jeans. Or, at least, that’s what I assume it means.

It sounds good and so I’m going to stick with it.

Last summer, I self-published a free short story online, Circle of Justice, and a little over two years ago I began The Mess that Is Me. Both were done in order to get my name and writing voice out there for people to gain a sample. I spend a portion of my day - each and every day - putting both before the public, hoping people will download the story and drive traffic to The Mess. In the process, I’ve made some great friends who have encouraged and supported me such as Stephanie Neighbour, David Brown and Diana Conlan.

I’ve also found great sites, such as that of Molly Greene, to help me navigate the murky waters of marketing and platform building. Reaping the Harvest is almost ready to be released and I need to know how to sell what I’ve written. It’s going to take quite a bit of energy and leg work to make it work.

And that’s where the juggling comes in. I can’t spend all of my time marketing my writing or even writing blogs. I have to keep the words going on the sellable work so that the next book is ready. Another draft needs to be moved to editing which then needs to be moved to my editors, the formatting and finally released. And then I need to do another one. And another. I am a writer, after all. At least, that’s what I tell my parents so they stop yelling at me to get out of the house and get a job.

Without the writing, there is nothing to market. Unless you market, you won’t sell what you’ve written. It’s a juggling act I’m still practicing. It doesn’t help that I get caught up in all the exciting conversations online and before I know it two hours have gone by without ink being put to paper. I had to work on my coordination of balancing both halves of the whole if I was going to move forward and succeed.

I’ve combined the two into a routine based on time and goals. Once I get my day started and coffee has pried my eyelids open, I spend time writing down my stats from the previous day. I then hop onto social media and catch up with my interactions and appreciation for whatever happened while I was sleeping. I greet new followers, comment back to others, and share my latest blog posts and story. That takes about twenty minutes. Then the writing starts as does the juggling. Every hour I take a break, catch up on conversations and share my writings again. Smart phones have made it even easier to keep up with my relationships and marketing while waiting in line to pick up the 8-year old from school. The goal is to get back to a set number of words per day between the platform-building breaks while sitting on my back porch not being distracted by the butterfly garden. Both are required if a writer is to succeed and they have to be juggled properly. They can’t all be in the air at the same time or resting in your hand. Timing is everything in order to keep it all rotating and not crashing to the ground.

I’m not saying I’m anywhere close to that, but hopefully I’ve set up some habits that will make my dad proud with my juggling skills. At least, I won’t have oranges dropping on my head.

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