Separating social outings from promo

selfie with a glass of wine

Last year was like a long, citalopram-addled nightmare of panicked, half-baked marketing and gimmicks. Pretty impressive given that for at least three of those months, I would only be out of bed for two separate 3-to-4 hour periods, and fitting everything into that time.

I already covered the topic of ill-conceived spending and gimmicks, so I don’t wish to revisit it; I’ve already gone as far into debt┬ádepth as I would prefer. No, this is about entering full-on promo mode all the time, which can include the spending and gimmicks, but this time I’m more focused on the social side. I’m going to approach the point in the most roundabout, built-up way possible, so I hope you’re feeling patient today.

And I feel you, if you’re there and don’t know how to stop, because that’s a place I’ve been and only just recently begun to leave behind. From the strange childhood moment I decided to tell everyone I was going to be a writer, I have been judging myself over the years for lack of having done much. When I finally got a manuscript finished in any draft number at all, that was a watershed moment in life, but it was also like thinking I’ve reached the top of a mountain only to see the other, taller peak in the chain that had been obscured by my prior perspective, that could only have been revealed by getting where I was, or by getting off the mountain entirely and watching from afar, detached and indifferent. Whenever I accomplished anything else in life, it was more like a side quest with varying degrees of relation to the One True Purpose.

So at some point, it wasn’t good enough for me to have done what I had done, because if I had managed to accomplish it, it couldn’t have been so challenging and I needed to put more effort in. Also because the more manuscripts I wrote and the more I learned, the more I knew what that weak 50K-word thing needed to become more like something I could feel proud of again.

After years of effort, with more added each time the manuscript got rejected, I got really sick of waiting. I was supposedly living in an era where self publishing was the future, anyway, and all the tools I needed were supposed to be a Google search away, free if you’re willing to do a lot of work for which you would otherwise pay people. I grew more determined of this when I understood that some of the writers I look up to never received a single rejection letter, because they lived in an age where they got to be groomed from very early on in their career, and it was the right time and place for that to happen. But they also didn’t have the tools to do everything themselves, so there were dreadful years in between when it must have become increasingly difficult to get published, while other options were derided as “vanity press”, and then the Internet happened and strange days have found us since. So why shouldn’t I use what’s now here, that wasn’t always seen as an option before?

I set up a Kickstarter and was pretty much doomed from that point forward. I was working for my book, and now it was my life, and I desperately needed the entire world to know. I didn’t have a team on the sales and marketing side, and had no chops in either field, but I was too impatient to do anything except blunder forth.

By the time all the card-handouts were done, and all the pushing and shoving, some people had blocked me on social media, while others┬ájust didn’t talk to me anymore. The problem is, everyone’s in the middle of their own struggle, economics hasn’t been kind to most of my friends for a long time, and people befriend you to talk about mutual interests and whatever they like you for, not this one project you’re pushing painfully hard. When you’ve entered full promo mode, social outings become “networking”, and it’s all about who will let you put cards in what venue, or at least it can begin to look that way to others.

And the amazing thing is, you might also have the self-awareness to understand how poorly this is working. You just might not know what else to do, and if you do nothing at all, you feel like you’re not putting in enough effort to say “I well and truly tried”; if things don’t work out, you’ll think of all the times you did nothing and wondered if you should have done something. You know the difference between working hard and working smart, but you could be a panic-driven creature like me. You could have internalized all the times you were made to feel lazy in life, and this, this is the golden opportunity to actually want to work yourself to death, for something you believe you’ve lived your life to do.

Unfortunately, it’s no one else’s job to see that. They see what you’re actually doing, from their perspective. Or they might understand it all too well, and that might be why they haven’t blocked you, or simply stopped talking to you. There’s a fine line you went galloping past on your palomino, just like me. You feel it, don’t you? It hurts you too; not just the saddle burn, but thinking of the possibilities.

Sometimes, the best thing you can do is refrain. It’s the tricky thing about finding life’s balance, and finding perspective and judgement. When you’re doing other things, you’re not “doing nothing”. Those other hobbies and interests, those side quests, some of them are how some people know you best and it’s one way you keep connected with them. Continue to live a life where you do many things, have many interests, and pointedly refrain sometimes from discussing your One True Mission. You can save yourself from burnout, and likely spare a lot of people around you too. Once you’ve been in promo mode for too long, it actually takes more effort to remember a social outing for its intended purpose, so exert the effort and know that you’ve done something right.

If not, charge forth; vent at me once in a while, in chat, when you need. And I’ll do my best to still be there when you get to the other side.

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