Thursday, June 16, 2016

All things personal

Let me forewarn you that this is likely going to be a rambling post.  Why?  Because number one, it's emotional.  And number two, I have a habit of going back over something once, twice, three times and then I talk myself out of posting it altogether, which is sort of why I'm here writing this today.  What you read next is NOT an indication of my ability to form a coherent sentence:) hehe  This is just straight from the heart, unfiltered and unedited.  It's that or I won't post it at all, so here goes.
I want to tell you a little about myself, some things that you may have gleaned by following me on social media.  For starters, social media is hard for me. In some ways, I'm a very private person.  My first inclination when virtually anything happens to me or around me is not to share it widely.  I tell my husband.  I tell my sister. I tell my best friend.  Usually, it stops there unless I make myself put it online.  A few things come naturally, like when dad died or when I'm super passionate about something, but for the most part, I just don't share things with the world in that way.  
My family is private, too. My husband has no desire to be "Mr. Leighton" in the sense that he is "The Husband Of That Chick Who Writes."  Now HE is truly a private person. Truly.  He doesn't even HAVE a Facebook account.  My mother is the same way.  She HATES it when we post about her online.  That's probably where I get it.  Like her, I hate having my picture taken, too.  HATE. IT.  I'm the least photogenic person in the world.  I will look at a picture of myself and pick out every single thing I hate about my face or my features.  That's just the way I am. I'm comfortable with who I am, but that doesn't mean I don't still see the flaws.  I've just learned to love myself despite them.  But it's for that reason that I don't post many pictures.  I have to post it and run or it won't get posted at all.  LOL
When I was growing up, my sister was the beauty of the family.   Every family event we would attend, the relatives would just OOOO and AHHHH over her when she walked in.  "Look at those blue eyes!"  "Look at that head full of gorgeous hair!"  "Look at that smile!"  She was also kind and sweet, never raised her voice and never EVER had a temper tantrum. 
I was the exact opposite. 
I was the holy terror of the family. Loud, wild, always getting into trouble and accepting dares I had no business accepting.  I had a temper, too. My parents used to pray that God would take it away from me. Yeah, it was that bad.  Needless to say, I had a lot of insecurities growing up and many of them have stuck.  Many of them have made me overly sensitive or a bit over concerned with how I'm perceived or how I make others feel. For that reason, I go out of my way to try and make people feel welcome and appreciated and comfortable.  I never want to hurt feelings or offend or anger or make anyone feel like less.  Unfortunately, on social media it's very hard to ensure that my tone and intent are conveyed appropriately, so most of the time, I just delete what I would otherwise post.  
I still have a lot of my younger self in me, though.  I'm all about the fun and the socializing IN REAL LIFE, still a bit loud and wild and sort of hyper.  But in the cyber world, I just can't seem to find a footing that I'm comfortable with.  I don't trust easily (been burned a few too *hundred* many times), which means I don't have a zillion author friends. I never make friends simply because of what they can do for me. I don't take many pictures of ANYTHING, much less pictures of my house or car or jewelry or purses or shopping excursions or trips or...anything (I was raised never to brag, so I err on the side of keeping things to myself).  I don't like photos of myself.  I don't like drama. I don't like negativity and I'm always afraid my sense of humor will be taken the wrong way (it can sometimes be heavy on the sarcastic side).  I think and re-think and then over-think every thing I post, which makes even an "check in" post a thing of torture for me.  Anyway, you see where I'm going with this.  Me + Social Media = Not a great combo. LOL
So, you take a person like me and put her in a profession where she has to put herself "out there" for the judgment and criticism of the entire world, not just for her work, but for who she is, what she thinks and believes, what she says and how she behaves, and you have a recipe for a recluse. LOL  Which is essentially what I am.  And yet, in this day and age, social media has a direct correlation to sales.  To a certain extent, we have to sell our books online.  That, too, is very hard for me and I'm sure it comes across loud and clear.  So where does that leave me?
Here. Writing this lengthy, raw-and-real post to explain myself to you.
Y'all, I do this-- ALL THIS-- because I love writing. I love writing stories that Y'ALL love.  It's like crack to me.  It really is.  Almost to an unhealthy degree, I would guess.  I would love nothing more than for millions of readers to devour and adore ALL of my books. I would swear I'd died and gone to heaven.  Seriously.  But when a book doesn't do well and that doesn't happen, I turn inward and start questioning EVERYTHING.  I think about what I could've or should've done differently, what I need to work on, what skill I need to hone, how I can do it better next time.  I'm a writer.  My entire career goal is to write an epic book that makes itself a permanent fixture in your heart, to write "that book" that you never forget.  Never.  But that can also come at a price, a price that can be counterproductive to an author.  There comes a point when it all becomes about sales as a measure of a book's worth rather than writing what I love and pouring my heart into it.  
I hate that place.
I hate it.  
I hate feeling like I have to write a certain thing in order to sell books, or that I have to sell mySELF in order to sell my books.  And I'm being 100% honest when I tell you that I've been told that more than once--that we have to make y'all fall in love with US and then you'll buy our books, that we aren't just selling our work, we're selling ourSELVES.
But I just can't do it.  No matter how much I try to be like everyone else, I can't.  It blows up in my face.  And for good reason. I'm NOT like everyone else.  I'm me, for better or worse.  THIS is who I am.  I have faults and insecurities and flaws just like everyone else in the world. I'm not a jetsetter. I'm not a rockstar.  I don't want to live my life in the limelight, nor do I want to tell the world to eff off.  I'm just me, a regular person with regular feelings.  But I'm genuine.  I will say that about myself.  I'm genuine, and trying to be something online that I'm not makes me disingenuous, and THAT is not okay with me.
I say ALLLLLLL of the above to say this:  I want y'all to love my books. So much so that you read them and want to go straight and tell all your friends about them.  And if you don't, then I'll half kill myself trying harder and harder and harder to give you a book that you DO love that much.  THAT is who I am. I'm an overachiever.  I'm a people pleaser.  I'm a gusher and a squealer.  I'm still part nerd and part cheerleader.  But I'm not a quitter.  I don't give up.  I'm just going to have to do this my way, hermit and all, social suckitude and all.  (Yes, I just made up a word, but that's okay, too.)  Trends and fads will come and go, but I'll still be here writing for you.  Because I love it and this is who I am.  I'm a writer.  I'll be here trying to make you fall in love. Trying to make you feel something.  Trying to make your world a better place, if only for a few hours at a time.  I care what you think. I care what I write.  I just happen to suck at social media.  
Okay, so...  *shakes it off*  Before I end this train wreck-of-a-post, let me say this as well:  I love y'all.  You've changed my life.  I wouldn't even HAVE a blog or a Twitter account if it weren't for you.  I lovelovelove interacting with you.  This wouldn't even be an issue if we could meet in person, but this is the digital age, so it's a necessary evil.  Just please know that I'm much better either in person OR via a message/email/wall post.  If you don't believe me, hit me up and find out for yourself:)  
I'll end with this:  Please don't judge me for things you see on social media. Or LACK thereof.  Some of us are much more than what you see online:)