Discover more from You Think Too Much
The joy and terror of small steps
And the big dreams they lead to
Hey, glad you’re here! After you read this, go check out Monday’s post about why I’m never weighing myself again. Then subscribe if you haven’t already or take the big leap and support my writing by becoming a paid subscriber. Thanks!
Maybe especially in this season when everyone is called (or cajoled) into making BIG, HUGE life changes, it’s good to remember that small steps are also important. That’s what I’ve been thinking about this week.
As I’ve written before, after a sustained and good-faith effort to publish my young adult novel the traditional way, I’ve decided to self-publish. I have a lot of feelings about this decision and those feelings change every few days. Even writing those words—I’m going to self-publish my novel—gives me a little twinge of anxiety. What does that mean? How does that work? Do I know what the hell I’m doing?
No, I do not, but that’s okay, because it’s true of every single thing in my life I’ve ever attempted—at some point, I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. Then I figured it out. Walking. Reading. Riding a bike. Calculating a standard deviation. Eating with a fork. As humans, we come into the world with very little in the way of useful instincts. Close your eyes when something comes at your face. Pull your hand away when you touch something hot. The rest of it, we make up as we go along.
As always, the trick is to take the big thing and turn it into small steps, while appreciating that each of those small steps can still be hard. I mean, we’ve all watched a baby learn to walk and realized how incredibly difficult this thing we now mostly take for granted is at the very beginning.
In the last few weeks, I’ve started giving the novel to readers—people who unlike my husband and I, haven’t read the novel 528 times—to read for any gaps in continuity that we’ve missed. I also met with someone about doing a cover design, which is always exciting.
These small steps on the surface don’t look like much—they involved sending an e-mail or two and showing up at the coffee shop. They don’t take up a lot of time (so far), but they do take up energy. They require gumption and hope and the risk of putting myself out in the world. I have to show up as is, fumbling around while I figure out how to do this new thing.
It already feels like there’s a difference between what I’m doing now and what traditionally publishing my other books looked and felt like. Maybe it’s the difference between something that happened to me versus something that I’m making happen. Traditional publishing is a cooperative process, so it’s not totally passive. But a lot of the decisions were out of my hand and made at a remove. Communication went through an agent or editor and it was clear there were rules about who could talk to who, though I had no idea what those rules were. And when someone did ask me what I thought, I felt out of my depth, like, was there a right answer I was supposed to give? And what was it? Could someone tell me?
Maybe that’s also why these small steps I’m taking, even if they’re not easy, are also exciting. I’m the one calling the shots now and that makes everything feel different. I get to make the decisions and there is no “right” answer. There’s just the answer that makes sense to me because this is my show now.
It also makes the small step approach even more important. When everything’s sitting on your shoulders alone, it’s much easier to get overwhelmed by the scope of it all and just give up. But if I break it down, step-by-step, it becomes possible. Manageable. Today I only have to create an account with the self-publishing system online. Tomorrow, I just have to look over the edits from one of my continuity readers.
Of course small steps add up and in-between, I’m also dreaming. Thinking about how it will feel to see the novel for sale on Amazon. To hold it in my hands. To do events. To have this thing I’m so incredibly proud of out in the world.
So here’s to the small steps and the big dreams they lead to.