We came to be out of shock, grief, coping, and resolve.
“I need you,” I said.
“I trust you.”
“You help me make sense of things.”
“Whether I bitch, moan, laugh or cry, you’re always there. Always.”
A few years later, things changed.
“You’re still here.”
“Sometimes you bug me and I need my space.”
“I think we’re stuck.”
“We should talk to someone.”
Sound familiar, writers? Have you ever started a loving relationship with a project and hit a crossroads?
I never thought we’d be together this long, me and my cancer journal cum memoir. We’ve had our ups and downs, but with sound counsel from developmental editor, Alan Rinzler, bottomless encouragement from loved ones, and a lot of hard work, we picked up the pace the last few years and as of 2013 my memoir manuscript is mostly done.
Great, right? Right. Our relationship has gone to the next level. But there’s more to do to ensure our story gets into readers’ hands, starting with an author platform to increase visibility and build an audience.
Platform building was overwhelming at first. As a single freelancer who was about to move her life to another state, I found it hard to strike a work/life/platform balance, and the things I was trying to build a platform seemed to go unnoticed. It reminded me of online dating except platform doesn’t come with the handy, “No, thanks, I don’t think we’re a match” button.
“The most frustrating thing about building a platform is that you won’t have success overnight,” Chuck writes. “The journey begins slowly, and your first few steps will be unimpressive.”
Slow and unimpressive is the newbie normal? Ouch but really good to know. In fact, Chuck’s book is full of gem insights and ideas from Chuck, literary agents and authors whose personal tales of platform hits-and-misses made platform building seem less daunting and more attainable. For me, author Amy Julia Becker‘s words resonate the most.
“I’d say I’ve become aware of the ‘best practices’ of blogging and social media, but I’ve also allowed myself to work within my boundaries,” she says. “I try to keep it all in balance rather than thinking that I can, or should do it all.”
I don’t have to do it all? Yay!
I read through the book again, took notes, dog-eared pages. Then I left the door open for inspiration to help me find a way to build platform and take my manuscript to the next level, and guess what? She came and together we crafted a more targeted and consistent approach to platform; one that was suited to my goals, strengths and enjoyment (because it’s supposed to be fun, too).
All that was missing was a commitment to see it through.
Late on the frigid first of February, I stopped to remember why my manuscript and I got together in the first place. Something about lending some candid insight, comfort, humor, and hope to those affected and worried about cancer. Especially single folks curious about life post-treatment.
“That’s awesome but it’s going to take more work, more time and a lot of patience.”
“Will you commit or what?”
I said Yes to the platform and ultimately to publishing my memoir one way or another. To make it official, I wrote up this vow. So far it’s working for us. With a few substitutions (time per week, social media, etc.), maybe it’ll work for you too.
The 7-Year Hitch Manuscript Recommitment Vow
I, writer, swear (frequently) to take you, Manuscript, 8+ hours a week to a desk, table or couch with a malbec or Nutella chaser,
To love you, guide you and not get mad when you call during Downton Abbey or while I’m engrossed in that dream where Javier Bardem is braiding my hair,
To build a platform for you,
For better or even better,
In articles, posts and tweets,
For traditional or self-publishing,
From this day forward, until you’re in the hands of readers or I check into a facility.