I've found myself in this situation lately. As I completed the edits on Anywhere But Here early this week, I realized that there were many things that need to be done before the book comes out in April to prepare for publicity and promotion opportunities. One thing I learned with Blurry is that it's not wise to wait until the book comes out to start publicity - you need to start building up an audience ahead of time. Promotion, of course, takes time and effort and is necessary if you want your writing to reach the readers you wrote it for. As I was considering what to check and where to direct my promotional efforts, I took a look at my life and realized that I was hanging on to some things that were no longer serving the purpose of improving or building up my writing the way they used to. I've realized for months that I'm no longer as active on Writing.com or on Open Salon as I had been a few years ago. After Blurry was published, I shifted my focus to publicity and promotion for my novels, novellas, and long stories and found I wasn't working on short stories or flash fiction the way I used to. This realization caused me to pause and take stock of where I am and whether what I'm holding on to is serving the purpose of getting me to where I want to be.
So over the past week, I've been asking myself what my true long-term goals are for my writing, and what I need to do to reach them. I realized that I am a novelist at heart, and that in order to succeed, I need to build up an audience of readers and increase my promotional skills. In looking at my online activity, I realized that although I had invested a lot in Writing.com, I wasn't getting a return. In fact, I've lost followers/readers at that site as I've been more focused on maintaining this site and my activity on other social media outlets where I get more feedback and have more connections, like Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads. It was a very hard decision to make because once upon a time, I loved Writing.com and got some great feedback there that I know made me the writer I am. But I realized that if I want to grow in my writing, then I need to prune what isn't producing fruit. Writing.com isn't producing anymore and I don't have time or energy to invest in something that's withering on the vine. So I made the difficult decision to suspend the blog at that website on Sunday and will not renew my upgraded account when it comes up for renewal later this year. It hurt terribly, but I need to focus my attention on places where I'm interacting with and reaching the most people.
With Open Salon, the decision was easier. I've never been very active on that site, and in fact suspected I made a mistake after a few short months of being there. I just couldn't seem to "fit in" and find the flow at that blogging site. So tonight I made my farewell entry and let that one go as well.
I think such realizations happen to all of us from time to time. We come to realize that something that used to be a part of our life is slipping away, and we have to make an active decision on whether to hold on to it, or let it go. Life is always changing, whether we realize it or not. Sometimes (like me in the past couple of years) you have major changes that rock your world and throw everything in a different balance, but things are still moving even when it seems like you're in a rut and nothing's happening. Slow motion can be very deceptive because it mirrors stagnation, but it's motion even if we don't perceive it. If the sun rises and sets, then things are moving. People and things slowly pass through our lives and we may not realize it until it hits us one day that something that used to be around all the time isn't such a big part of our lives any more.
I think I got hit with a combination of the fast and slow moving kind this time. I did go through two major life transitions a couple of years ago and as those were setting, I got my book contracts. These two blogs were there with me along the way, but I didn't realize until recently that their role in my day to day life had slipped as much as it had until I took stock and realized they weren't where I thought I'd left them.
Things do come and go in our lives, and sometimes it can be painful to face that something that meant a lot to you is slipping away. The natural tendency is to hold on to it, even if we know in our heart that it's season has passed in our life. It's especially hard to let go of something that was a benefit or comfort to us. And yet, pruning is the secret to growth. If we really want to continue to grow and be free to accept greater blessing and success, then we must be able to let go of what isn't serving our life anymore. Pruning hurts - no doubt about that - but it leads to better growth. Just as my roses will start growing after I prune them next month, so too will I grow from finding the courage to cut off this dead wood from my life. This summer, I hope to have more than just big, beautiful roses growing in my life.
Yes indeed, it's late winter and pruning season is coming to my part of the world, literally and figuratively. I have faith that it will lead to beautiful blooms in due season.