It's funny. Before I published my first novel, I was somewhat of an inconsistent blogger. Most people who read this post won't know that. But that makes sense.
Most people who read this post don't know me.
It's funny - the way life seems to take a turn about the room and bring you right back where you started. It took me almost three years to get here, which is as mind-boggling as it is fascinating; and now that I'm here, ready to start the next dance, it feels appropriate to pause a moment and look around. Because, you see, while I might find myself in a familiar place, my vision is clearer, my mind wiser, my body older, and my intentions are vastly different.
The song has changed. The dance has new steps. And me? I'm wearing a brand new dress.
It's funny - how you think you know yourself. The truth is, even if you're as self-aware as I believe I am, you're constantly changing. Every decision, every choice, every mistake, victory, failure, challenge, goal, ambition - every day is an opportunity that promotes growth or an evolution of sorts. Change is inevitable. Even if you don't do it, the world around you will; which, in some twisted way, means you'll find yourself looking up one day wondering what happened...
It's funny. I've never been good at spotting. I understand the concept, but physically? I've often wondered how dancers or figure skaters don't fall over more often. How is it that after three or four turns they haven't lost sight of the particular spot they were meant to focus on? How is it that it doesn't get lost in all the blur?
I published my first novel, and the song I was dancing to got faster. With every book that followed, the tempo increased, the choreography got more complicated, every step felt like the beginning of another sequence of turns, and I got dizzy. "They" say that it's hard - publishing. Whether you're self-published or traditionally published, everybody knows that it's hard. The fight to be seen is brutal. The battle to stay relevant is relentless. The competition is fierce, and the playbook to success is filled with page after page of strategy scribbled in invisible ink. But that's just child's play; that's just the warm-up. What "they" don't tell you is that if you're not careful, if you lose sight of your spot, you'll twirl right into a war zone. What I wasn't prepared for was the reality that somewhere along the way, I'd lose my spot.
I waltzed right into a war - the war waged against my integrity.
It's funny - because, you see, my voice still sounded the same. I was still me. My readers were telling me as much. My books were getting better, not worse. That's what happens with experience. My characters were more interesting, more relatable, more broken and therefore more lovable. I was never short on ideas, and the words poured out of me as easily as water from a faucet. Of course, every day wasn't effortless - but publishing is hard, remember? I never expected the journey to be challenge-free, and I'm an ambitious person. Even more, I'm an ambitious writer. That's who I am. I was still me. My voice still sounded the same.
Except, somehow, I wasn't the same.
What's funny is that I crashed and burned, and I boldly call that a beautiful display of grace and mercy from up above. I thought I was too strong to ever burn out. I was sure that I was too self-aware to allow myself to ever get to that place. Except, I had lost my spot. I was dizzy, and the confidence I felt was a false perception of my reality. Everything was out of focus and it was hard to find my footing. When I hit the ground and looked up, it was shockingly apparent that while my voice still sounded the same, while I was proud of the books I was publishing - of the growth people could attest to in my writing, and my determination to tell my stories the way I wanted to tell my stories - something was off. I was off. Not simply as a writer, but as a woman. I'm so much more than an author. So much more.
It's funny - I think I forgot that.
I'm not a liar. I'm not a copy-cat. I won't say I've never written what's "trendy," but the integrity of the storyteller within me has held her ground. Every story I write is mine. Every character I develop is their own. I've never compromised that. No, the war against my integrity wasn't about me as a writer, but me as a person.
It sounds simple and gross, but it's a lot more complicated and messy than that. I can't adequately get into all the details; but when I say that most people who read this post don't know me, it's because you don't. That is the disappointing reality of the internet. You see, before I published my first book, social media and I were not friends. Then, suddenly, "they" told me that social media was the name of the game, and I needed to be out there. So I put myself out there, and I got lost...
I became a persona.
Now that is not funny. It's terrifying. At least, it is to me...
I'll never look back on the last three years and regret a single moment of it. This dance is mine, and every bump and bruise I've collected along the way has been a lesson learned. I find great value in that. Furthermore, the fruit of my labor are books that are, remarkably, stories within stories; they are a snapshot of who I was and when as a writer. But the author - R.C. - she feels like pretend. And it's funny, because those are my initials. She is me, and yet I'm not her. At least not all the time. I see that now, clear as day.
And I'm not going to pretend anymore.
It's funny, how much I thought it mattered. Success and all that. It doesn't. Not in the ways that I thought it did. Not in the circles where I thought it mattered. I've found my spot - metaphorically speaking, of course - and I'm not going to spin faster than I'm ready to. Don't worry (if you were) I'm not going anywhere. I've dusted my shoes off, I'm wearing a new dress, and I'm ready for my next song. Only, I don't plan on being a persona anymore. I want to be Rosalyn. I want to be the woman who writes under the pen name R.C. Martin. I would say, "I hope that's all right with you," but in truth - it doesn't matter either way. It's my dance, after all.