There is always this amazing sense of build-up when you are working towards a large goal. In my case, it was getting my first solo work published. Working with editors and marketing liaisons was (and continues to be) exciting and, more than anything, gave a concrete feel to my work. After all, as writers we often sit alone for hours at a time lost in our words and the worlds we are endeavoring to build - actual connections with the world of business and marketing are far more foreign. So when it all comes together and you have a finished product, you feel not just accomplished, but as if you have created something real - which, considering it all started in your head, is an amazing feeling.
But now what?
The obvious answer is PROMOTE!!!
But what about all those other stories still waiting semi-impatiently for the opportunity to become "real" - when do they get your time?
The harder, truer answer is, now that you've got your book out, you now have to split your time between writing and promoting. That is, many artists just want to create, but what sits forgotten on a dusty shelf inspires no one. Yet once your words become concrete and listed for sale, then the sheer pleasure of sitting and writing and creating can no longer be all that fills your free time. You owe it to your work to divide your time between writing and promoting. Otherwise, all the words your poured your heart into crafting together will sit in forgotten corners speaking to no one.
I spent seven years of my life studying my other passion, theatre, first getting my B.A. then following it up with my M.A. But I realized that if I want my other passion - writing - to bear any fruit, I was going to have to spend an equal amount of time being its loving caretaker. So I decided to take a break for six months to an entire year from the theatre in order to dedicate myself to the business side of writing while still giving myself time to write. Has it been hard the last few months to be so determinedly away from what I normally to do fill my hours? Yes. But was it the right decision? Absolutely. Eventually my life will re-balance itself so that I can continue to pursue both theatre and writing, but for now, I am focusing on building the "promote" aspect of my writer's work.
To that end, I have dedicated myself to writing in this blog on a regular basis, created a fan page on facebook, and am working on a website. I also wrote a list of all the projects I have yet to do as a way to spur me to promote my first book. After all, writing more is great, but only if I have an audience that wants to read more.
So when your first book gets published, don't just sit down and re-absorb yourself back into your words. Give yourself the time and dedication needed to promote your work, because you owe it to yourself not to let your stories sit and gather dust.