It was dark and silent. Not a single other person was around. Every single noise that came from the woods was amplified by the surrounding silence. The only hint of civilization nearby was the sound of cows as they grazed. Their loud bellows was the only clue that other people were nearby.
One of the first major things my wife and I did back when we started dating was go on a camping trip. Both of us have a fondness for the outdoors. We were young, then, and this would be our first camping trip we had taken by ourselves. Until then, the two of us had only gone camping with family or in my case, the boy scouts.
I chose a campground my parents had been to several times when they were younger. Based on their stories, it was a great place to tent camp. Now, I should probably tell you, my wife and I don’t exactly “rough it” on our camping trips. We don’t pack up a hiking bag and travel into the middle of the woods or anything. We prefer to camp in actual campgrounds around other campers. I’ve heard it referred to as car camping before, but I don’t like the term.
Anyway, we drove all the way out to this campground and set up camp. We soon learned we were completely alone. Not a single other person had booked a site for that weekend. Which is pretty odd because there’s almost always someone camping in every park in Florida. But we didn’t care. We’d have the whole park to ourselves. It would be fun! I will say, we weren’t wrong. It was fun! But it does get a little strange at first. We started to wonder if we should even be there. Did everyone know something we didn’t? Was this a terrible place to camp this time of year? Were the bugs too much to bear? What was it that kept everyone else away that we didn’t know?
Not belonging is something almost every author or writer goes through. It’s called the impostor syndrome. It’s not exclusive to writers, of course, but it’s something we deal with. You write a book, you go through all the hard work of plotting, writing, and editing. You publish it and then go to talk about it on social media or in person. Suddenly, all the hard work you put into the book seems trivial. No one is going to care about what you made because you’re a nobody, right? Maybe if you were Stephen King or George R. R. Martin, people would care. But who are you? No one will care.
Well, that’s entirely wrong. Not as many people will care as they might a King book or some other well-known author. But that doesn’t mean you don’t belong. You put the work in. You crafted something only you can craft. When you think about it, you wrote something only you could write. No one else could have written the story you did. Give someone else a laptop and fifty years, and they could never create the same story you did. That must count for something.
The impostor syndrome is just something we trick ourselves into believing. We tell ourselves we don’t belong because someone has more success than we do. But think about it this way, every single one of those successful people spent a point in their career where no one knew a thing about what they wrote either. We all start at the same place.
And just like my empty campground with raccoons harassing us while we cooked marshmallows because we were the only campers nearby, you belong. It doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing. It doesn’t matter what success others have made for themselves. If you’ve worked hard to create something, you belong there too. Don’t put yourself down because you haven’t achieved the major success of others. Raise yourself up for the amazing things you have achieved!
Back to the empty campground I told you about. I’ll leave you with this amusing story. My wife and I lay there in the middle of the night in our tent. From somewhere in the woods, we heard a pack of coyotes whooping and snarling as they chased something. They barked and shouted until they finally caught their meal and went quiet. In that moment, for a brief second, I had wondered if this was why no one else was here? Was there a pack of wild wolves or coyotes terrorizing the area and everyone left? Turns out, no. That’s just nature.
Until next time, keep wandering. Just not alone.
We found ourselves pushing through the underbrush in order to avoid the water-soaked trails. In some places, we had to balance across logs to make it from one dry patch to another. The trail was flooded in several locations, but we weren’t going to let that stop us from hiking this thing.
A long time ago, but still in this galaxy, my wife and I decided to take a day hike. I had a new action camera I wanted to test out in the wilderness. The camera mounted to my hiking bag strap and was ready to go. I was so excited. After about thirty to forty-five minutes of hiking, we came across some major flooding. It seemed some rainstorms had turned parts of the trail into shallow rivers. A couple hikers had passed us going the other way at one point and assured us it got dry a little farther on. So, we decided to go for it.
In places we could, we went around the flooded areas. That meant cutting through underbrush and fighting thick plants. In other areas, we were able to walk through only an inch or two of water. Some places we found things to balance across to stay out of the muck. You must be careful in territory like this. The Cottonmouth snake is a common one in watery places in the woods here in Florida and their bite is deadly. Luck for us, we never came across one.
Even though the trails were flooded and moving forward was sometimes a slow and challenging process, we enjoyed ourselves. We weren’t going to let a little water ruin our day hike. And now I have a memorable adventure out of it. This can be applied to almost anything else in life. But since this blog centers around authors and writing, I think I will focus there.
Does self-publishing seem like a lot of work? Does it seem like you’re trudging through water and not making any progress? Is all that work necessary or worth it? Well, let me tell you from experience. Yes, it is worth it. Self-publishing is a lot of work. I mean, you’re in charge of everything. And when something doesn’t go right, there’s only yourself to blame. The book launch was a dud. Can’t blame your agent. The description of your book sounds mediocre. Can’t blame your publishing agency. It’s all on you. But much like our adventure through the flooded woods, it’s a lot of fun. And you have crazy stories to tell of the things you did and how you learned what you did. It’s worth it. Trust me.
Yes, I have a lot of work to do as a self-published author. I have to write the book, edit the book, format the book, edit, promote, market, etc and etc. But I get to decide what is done. No one else. I don’t have to wait for my publisher to tell me I need to cut out X number of pages. There are no requesting sales pricing. I can put the book on sale whenever I want. I think of it this way. If we had a trail guide with us that day on our hike, he might have told us to turn back. Had we, I wouldn’t have this fun story to tell. Same goes for my books.
So, in the end, self-publishing is a lot of work. I have to take on a lot of the responsibilities myself. But it’s also rewarding and a lot of fun. It gives me full creative control, and I like that. Something to consider if you’re torn between trying to go traditional or self-published. And if you ever find yourself hiking in the middle of the Florida summer, maybe bring some rain boots.
Until next time, keep wandering. Just not alone.
Did you ever find yourself pushing a stroller with a young child inside up the side of a mountain and thinking about just sitting down and not getting back up again? Well, not too long ago, my family and I took a trip to Tennessee and found ourselves in this same scenario. A little place in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. If you’ve never been, you should go! Such a beautiful park.
My wife and I took our young children on a hike to Clingman’s Dome. With a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old, the paved path of Clingman’s Dome was perfect. Except when it wasn’t. The entire hike is less than a mile and goes up the side of a mountain until you reach a beautiful overlook tower which presents amazing views. Pushing a stroller up the side of a mountain, even if it’s paved, is no easy task.
Writing a book is kind of like pushing a stroller up the side of a mountain. It’s tough. You’re not even sure you should be doing it. Sometimes, you just want to stop. Maybe even just quit and turn around. Go back to the car and find the nearest McDonalds. Much like getting to the top of that Dome and looking out over the mountains, finishing your book is worth it.
That’s not to say you should never give up on a project. Sometimes, you just don’t like what you’re making anymore and that’s okay. You can come back and try again. But if you really want to see it through. If you really want to see that view at the top of the mountain, you must keep going. It’s going to be a struggle. Finding the time to write. Finding the motivation. Working through writers’ block. Getting stuck on the small details. It’s all going to get in your way. But trust me when I say the end is worth it.
Oh, and I’m sorry. When I say end, I don’t mean finishing your first draft. You’re still on the mountain at that point. But you can take a nice long break. You’ve earned it. Trust me. We didn’t make it up that mountain without stopping several times along the way. Luckily, there were benches for that. We would catch our breath and keep going. If you need to catch your breath from a book you’re writing, that’s okay too. Step away for a little while. Get some air. Play something. Watch something. The best way to get reinspired to write is by not writing. Trust me, it works.
After we finished admiring the view from the top of Clingman’s Dome, we started back down. Turns out, going down the mountain with a stroller is much easier. Much easier. Maybe a little too easy. The weight of the stroller was pulling down the mountain and I had to do everything in my power to not start running with it. It was a great arm workout, I suppose.
So, if you take anything away from this story, it’s this. It may be an uphill battle to write your book. And when it’s finally finished and ready to be published, it will be easier. But much like going down a mountain with a stroller, it’s still a lot of work.
Until next time, keep wandering. Just not alone.
Can you imagine trying to camp in your tent during a hurricane? Guess who doesn’t have to imagine that feeling. If you guessed Bear Grylls, you’re probably right. But also, me! How did this happen, you ask? Well, sit back and let me grace your eyes with the story.
Long before my wife and I were married, we took a weekend camping trip. But we made one crucial error. We didn’t bother checking the forecast before we packed up the car. It was summer in Florida. We expected rain no matter what. How bad could it be? Well, turns out, hurricane bad. Yeah, oops.
It wasn’t a particularly bad storm. Maybe category one, at best. I’ve lived in Florida all my life, so I’m quite familiar with hurricanes. When my mom text me the day we were set to leave and told me there was a hurricane sitting in the gulf, I shrugged. It wasn’t that bad of storm. We might have some heavy rain, but it will probably move past quick. They sometimes do.
The first night, we were somewhat optimistic. The rain didn’t let up, but that was okay. We would hang out in the tent through the night. Play board games and enjoy the sound of rain on the tent. Except, we learned that my tent was no longer as waterproof as it had once been. We’re not talking full on leaks here, but enough to make the floor exceptionally wet. It was fine! We put towels down to keep the floor dry and stuck it out. We paid for this trip, damnit. We weren’t going to let a storm scare us away.
The next morning, guess what? That’s right. It was still raining. Only this time, things were getting worse. The winds were picking up. The storm wasn’t moving away. And what was worse, it was getting stronger. After a lot of radar checks, and concerned texts from my mother, we finally decided we were beat. The storm had won. So, we started packing it all up. Which was good timing on our part because a park ranger drove up and told us we had to leave right away. They had just called a tornado warning in our area and it was no longer safe to be there. Also, turns out, driving in hurricane conditions for about two hours is taxing!
So, how does this relate to writing or being an author, you ask? What makes this anecdote relatable to writers? Allow me to elaborate. Things won’t always go your way. You may write a killer a book that you had so much fun writing. The characters were amazing. The plot was top notch. Everything was perfect. Everyone you let proofread the book couldn’t stop talking about how good it was. And yet, the sales just aren’t there. It happens. Maybe I should restate that. It will happen. Maybe not that specific scenario. But something similar will happen. Perhaps you’ll go to a book fair or convention and hardly sell five copies of your signed books. Yeah, I know the pain from experience. It sucks. But it’s also a good time to learn.
What could you do differently? Make everything a learning experience throughout your career as an author. Take my hurricane example. We should have checked the weather a few days before the trip and decided to call it off. Now, we always check the weather leading up to the camping trip. If you attend a convention and didn’t sell well, what could you do different next time? Maybe your elevator pitch needs work. Maybe you’re too introverted. Maybe it wasn’t the right crowd. Try not to let it get you down. Use it as a chance to learn. Learn from everything. If you take anything from this post, let it be this. Every single thing you do as an author will be a great learning experience.
Until next time, keep wandering. Just not alone.
Have you ever found yourself in the middle of nowhere with a can of unopened beans and raw steak but the campfire you intended to cook it with won’t stay lit? Yeah, I’ve been there. Okay, I know. That’s a specific scenario that I’ve outlined for you. If you can’t relate to it specifically, I understand. But I’m sure we all have had times where things weren’t working out for us how we hoped.
Let’s cut back to my scenario. There we were, my wife and me. Our camp was all set up. The tent was pitched. Canopy up. Everything unpacked. It was time to sit down to a nice steak dinner cooked over the open campfire. I had brought a can of beans to cook alongside it. We simply needed to get the fire going, find the can opener, and get cooking. But there were two problems.
The can opener was nowhere to be found and the fire wouldn’t stay lit. It wasn’t getting hot enough to catch the logs. What a blunder this had turned out to be. And did I mention we were camping for my birthday? Sure, we could have hooked up the propane stove and seared the steak. But that wouldn’t have tasted as good. And it also didn’t solve the problem of opening the can of beans.
So, I took out my knife and went about opening the can manually. Let me tell you, that’s not as easy as I thought. But eventually, I was able to pry the lid free. Step one, complete. Step two was now underway. Get the fire hot enough to burn the logs. I bring fire starters with me when we camp and those just weren’t cutting it. So, I improvised.
As the sun began to set, I went off in search of anything dry I could use to stoke the flames. It was May in Florida, which means summer. Which means, rainy season. Finding something dry was easier said than done. I was able to find several Sabal Etonia, which is fancy for palm fronds, that were brown and dead. I collected as much as I could and returned to the fire. Getting the firestarter log going, I slipped a handful of palm fronds on top. And the fire roared to life. Now, these are a good temporary solution, but the leaves burn fast. So, I continued to slip more in and fan the flames until finally, the logs began to catch and actually burn.
That night, we ate a nice steak dinner and beans cooked over the open fire. The next morning, I woke up early to take pictures of the sun rise of the preserve and decided to get a little editing done on the book I was writing at the time. Death Can Wait. A book about a couple swept ashore an island inhabited by people who would do them harm. Luke and Renee must survive the island and escape with limited survival skills. I just so happened to be editing a scene where the two of them are struggling to light a fire. So, I thought, why not introduce a little truth. And now, Luke and Renee discover palm fronds which help them light a fire of their own.
In my experience, writing inspiration can come from anywhere. You never know what’s going to make it in the final version. And if you think of something to add to a scene based on personal experience, I would highly recommend it. That always gives your writing a little bit more flavor of truth. And then it gives you a fun story to talk about years later when you’re being interviewed on the Tonight Show and asked about your books! But one step at a time. And if you take anything away from today’s post, let it be this. If you go camping and want to cook a thing of beans, don’t forget the damn can opener.
Until next time, keep wandering. Just not alone.
Have you ever stared into the flickering flame of a campfire and lost yourself in thought? This happens to me quite often. Whether I’m on a camping trip or just enjoying a fire in my backyard. It’s one of the best ways to think. Something about the hypnotic movement of the dancing flames really gets your mind flowing. Sometimes, I’ll think about plot lines for a book I’m working on. Other times, I think about what I should be doing for social media or marketing. Even when an author is staring into a fire, they’re still hard at work.
So, I wanted to bring this process to life. I want to share with you what it’s like to be an author. At least, from my perspective. Everyone is different in their writing process. I thought it would be fun to give you a glimpse into what it’s like for me as a writer. I’ll share platforms I use to sell my books and things I’ve learned over the years as I’ve grown as a writer. Perhaps you’ll learn a thing or two about growing your own platform. Maybe you’ll teach me something as well. Or maybe you’ll just be entertained by the amusing way I display the information to you.
I hope this new blog series can be fun for readers and writers alike. It’s less of a “how to” and more of a “what I’m doing.” I learn new things every day about writing, about publishing, about marketing. I’m always learning. Maybe I can pass some of that knowledge on to you. Or maybe you just want to sit back and enjoy the anecdotes! I promise, I will make them entertaining and fun.
Let me know your thoughts on this new blog series in the comments below. Hopefully, this is something you would really enjoy reading. I plan to put this out once a week. So, sit back and enjoy!
To cover up his search history, Evan Bond is a thriller/suspense author. As an outdoor enthusiast and horror lover, Evan Bond enjoys writing stories where the two come together. He lives in Florida with his wife and two sons.