Why the ‘Brief Hiatus’ is Now a Semi-Permanent Hiatus

Well, friends… I did it. I had a MAJOR life epiphany. I did not want to blog this any sooner, as I was afraid that the feeling was temporary; I am so prone to mood ups and downs that completely change my thinking. But no! This epiphany came several months ago, and I have not let go of it since.

So, what is it, you ask?

Well. Here it goes.

I realized that I am alright. I am more than alright. I’m content.

Anyone who read my posts from over the summer knows that I was anything but content at that time. I was carping almost daily about how all I wanted in the entire world was “Rowlingian” or “Kingian” success with my Eternity series, and trust me, what I published on the internet was NOTHING compared to what I was writing in my journal at that time. The whining was UNBELIEVABLE. But more on that in a minute.

Looking back at that time now, at all the whining, all the consternation, all the shameless, neurotic hoping, I realize that I was unhappy, first and foremost, which I kind of already knew, but I also realize that much of it was spoken by the desperate inner-child within me, the one who just did not want to let go of college and face the responsibilities of adulthood. I realized that I needed to believe that I was going to suddenly become mega-famous, be adored and revered as a literary titan, and be saved from my mundane, everyday life because I was in a rut, and I had no idea how to dig myself out. I wanted to live that life so I could be free of the stresses of student loans, finding a job, working a job… I would get to sit on my butt and make millions of dollars and have everyone ooh! and aah! over me. What could be better than that?

Well, lots of things, as it turns out. I wanted all of that, I wanted that life, but that just ain’t where I’m at anymore.

So, how did this epiphany happen? Well, through two things: A sudden health crisis that lasted for one month and is still kind of ongoing, and because of my work.

The first epiphany-trigger is legitimately embarrassing: I had a routine appendectomy. For me, a person with WILD health anxiety, to suddenly be besieged by a potentially life-threatening health situation was my absolute worst nightmare. In fact, as the anesthesiologist was preparing to put me under, I looked back at him as I laid down on the operating table and said, “This is my worst nightmare. You have no idea; this is my absolute worst nightmare.” Everything went beautifully, and I was discharged home within the day. Well, physically, I was mostly fine, but emotionally, I was a wreck. Panic attacks every day, frantic Googling of complications from appendectomies… I thought I had blood clots that would turn to pulmonary emboli and smother my lungs, or make my brain stroke out, or stop my heart in its tracks. I thought a tiny bump on my arm was going to turn into MRSA. I thought every ache and pain was an abscess or herniated scar tissue. I was an utter basket case, to say the least.

But that was not the crisis. At least not completely. The crisis came when, after returning to work, I had the WORST headache of my life. It lasted for days. Now, being a person afflicted with health anxiety, I immediately thought “BRAIN ANEURYSM” which is ACTUALLY my worst nightmare. It always has been, as long as I have had health anxiety, which has been many, many years. So, I went to Patient First, hoping that the pain in my eye was some kind of infection or better yet, just a really bad migraine. But no. Once there, I was informed by a histrionic doctor that my pupils were uneven, which suggested a TIA, and that I was at immediate risk for a stroke. I needed to go to the hospital RIGHT AWAY FOR A CT SCAN, LEST I WISHED TO HAVE A STROKE AND DIE. I mean, really, this guy was running through Patient First to call the hospital and tell them I was coming over, that it was an emergency, blah blah…

Don’t panic. I am going to say now that not only was this doctor wrong, but that he was an idiot. At the ER, they informed me that my pupils were fine, and everything else in my perfectly healthy 23-year-old body was chugging along nicely. But the anxiety got the better of me. For days, I believed that histrionic doctor was right, the other doctors were wrong, and I was going to have a stroke. I returned to the ER on two separate occasions, and on the second (and the last), they did a CT scan (which came back clean) and a spinal tap (which hurt like crazy and made me scream and cry like a little kid but also came back clean.)

So, as I am recovering from these procedures, as I am laying in the throes of a horrible panic attack, I started thinking to myself, “Well, what if I really HAD been having a stroke? What if this were my life? What if this were it?” And that is when I realized that I have been hoping and praying and desperately wishing my life away. I have not been present, at all.

Yes. It literally happened just like that, which I thought was weird, because I don’t normally believe in epiphanies like this.

I returned to work a week later, to my beautiful Pre-K children and my amazing co-teachers, who were so happy to see me, who had been sending me messages through my entire illness, reminding me that they were all there for me, they all missed me, and they couldn’t wait until I came back. Every day since going back to work, even when I have wanted to pull my hair out (days like that are inevitable when you work with children), I have been telling myself that this is where I am meant to be right now. I work with children, several of whom have special needs, and every day, they do something that either totally makes me feel things like a human (my way of saying “touches my heart”) or they accomplish something that to us may seem so little but to them is huge, or vice versa. I love walking into my room and being barraged by hugs and gleeful shouts of “Ms. Tori!” I love being immediately pestered about drawing Rapunzel and Elsa and Sheriffs of Mars, or braiding hair, or helping them build a garage for the cars out of the blocks. I love how they are so eager to do everything from art projects to Math worksheets to huge class discussions about our Letter of the Week or Popcorn Words. As I was laying in bed recovering, I made a mental list of all the things I love about my job, and the aforementioned points are only a few of those reasons. I realized that I have been taking that stuff for granted in a way that is almost offensive. Working with kids is difficult, to say the very least, but, if you’re doing it right, you get back SO MUCH. These are little, adorable, innocent souls who just want to spend time with you, who love you unconditionally, who will probably not remember you (at least not well) in the future, but who love you every second of the present.

Right now, I am continuing to experience rather severe abdominal pain, which has resulted in two ER visits AND an MRI, and yesterday, when the pain became so excruciating at work that I could barely stand, one of my little girls walked up to me, hugged me, and said, “Ms. Tori… What I want more than anything in the entire world is for you to get better.” And I held it in then, but later, I cried over that, because is that not the most lovely, adorable, perfect thing that has ever happened? I am lucky to experience moments like that, certainly, but I am lucky just to be a part of their lives, even if only briefly. And when I move on from this job, when I go to grad school, get my PhD, and move on to teaching big kids, I will find being a part of their lives, even if only briefly, just as fulfilling. The greatest teacher I ever had was a college professor. He changed my life in one two-minute interaction. If I can encourage a student the way he encouraged me, if I can intervene, however discreetly, when I know they need guidance, then I will continue to feel that I am doing meaningful work.

How does all of this relate to my former dreams of being mega-rich and mega-famous? Well, I realized that the world needs more teachers than it needs mega-celebrities. And also, as I am getting older, I am looking at myself more objectively. In college, I felt the need to be the loudest, most opinionated, most read, most intelligent, smartest girl in the room. I thought I was always right, that having an opinion on LITERALLY everything was required if I wanted to impress people. Having opinions is important, I know that still, but I don’t feel the need to take up all the air in the room, to bloviate about why my opinion rocks and someone else’s stinks. I don’t feel the same egocentric streak in me, the one that whispers that the solar system revolves on a Tori-centric model, that the Earth’s gravitational pull is a direct result of me and my brilliance. I don’t feel the need to embellish or to outright lie in order to make myself seem more intelligent or cooler. I don’t feel the need to one-up every story with a bigger, better story of my own. I don’t have time for people who are still stuck in that mindset, who can’t step back and observe themselves, who need attention and recognition and props and kudos and oohs! and aahs! I recognize those traits not as a sign of “coolness” but as a sign of great insecurity. I don’t find many things impressive, not that I really ever did. If people brag to me or to the world about their supposedly wonderful lives (which happened ALL the time in college and continues to happen today), I don’t buy it. I don’t have time for that kind of silliness, for braggers and liars and man-children or woman-children. I try to be kind to those people, to ask them about their lives, but I sift through their answers for what is true and what is more than likely false, and I have discovered that I am freakishly skilled at making the determination between truth and fiction. I don’t look back at any decision I ever made and think, “Well, maybe I should have done this differently, because then I could have done X, Y, and Z, or maybe I could have been here, or there, or everywhere.” I don’t live in the past. I have never been one to look at the social media pages of people I used to know, and I still don’t do that, not because it’s painful for me to look back, but just because I simply don’t want to. I don’t have the mental energy to give to old friends or old flames, or to old times, even. I don’t regret a single thing I have done over the past year. I don’t regret a single decision I have made, or a single moment of unhappiness or uncertainty or angst or anger. I am happy now, so I regret nothing.

When I read my journal during my recovery, which was a chronicle of my senior year in college, I saw some great things: my passion for learning, my love of being involved in school, my love for and loyalty to my friends, my sadness, my fear. But I also saw what makes older people cringe at my generation: I saw self-entitlement, a belief that God or Fate or the Universe should reward me for past struggles by making me famous, or that everyone should be looking at me all the time, and talking about me, and thinking about me. I saw a belief that everyone else was the problem and I was just an innocent victim of Evil, Horrible, Awful Circumstance. I saw a belief that I should be able to sit on my butt and wait for some miracle to save me from adulthood, and I cringed reading all those entries, the same way I cringed back then when I thought about working a 40+ hour work week, paying my own bills, taking control of my future, and getting my head out of the clouds. I am still terrified of adulthood, of leaving this dream behind completely, but I am also actively taking responsibility for my own life, for my own happiness, every single day.

This sounds crazy, I know. This sounds like something that could only happen in a wannabe-inspirational movie. But I know that A LOT of my post-graduate friends, from Stevenson and from other schools, have had similar epiphanies. Hell, my friends who DIDN’T go to college made these strides and came to this conclusion a LONG time ago. I know a lot of people who HAVE NOT had similar epiphanies, who still operate their daily lives under the delusion that the world revolves around them. And I don’t say any of this because I think I deserve props for my “maturity” or for my new way of thinking. Like I said, I am still struggling with this new mindset, I still fight that egocentric inner-child that wants to believe the world revolves around me. I don’t write this because I think other people should feel this way, or because I am defending my generation a little bit. Well, okay, I am defending my generation a little, because we are so often called little narcissists or perpetual children. But there are a large facet of us (I think there are WAY more of us than we let on) who grow up and change their thinking, or who have never thought that old, immature, egocentric way before. There are also MANY who do not outgrow this thinking, and I recognize that, too.

So, what does this mean for Eternity? What does this mean for T. Rudacille, the writer? Never fear. I will ABSOLUTELY be finishing the series, and I will ABSOLUTELY continue to write. But I will not spend time self-promoting, simply because I just don’t want to. There are many, many Indie Authors working 40+ hours a week, taking care of families, seeing to their responsibilities, and still self-promoting, and believe me, I commend them. But I can’t do it. So, this blog is going to sit on the way, way, way back burner for a long time. Or, if I do write, the content might be very different. Or it might be the same. I don’t know, we’ll just have to see. I am going to write my books, my blog, and whatever else, simply because I love to write, not because it is going to save me from the big, bad adult world.

This is goodbye, for a while. One day, I might re-join the cybersphere, but in the meantime, I am going to keep my ducks in a row now that I have gotten them in a row. I am going to hope that I continue on this path, and that tomorrow, I don’t wake up aching to be J.K. Rowling. I am going to try to remember what it was like to write just for the sake of writing. In short (too late, I know), I am going to just live out here. Cuz I am happier and more content than I have been in a long time. I am good. Really good.

So I must be doing something right.

-T. Rudacille (Tori)

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I Have Revised My Advice to Aspiring Indie Authors. Is it Better?

Wanna know the best thing about being self-published, besides, you know, everything? Release dates that are not hard-set. I always have a goal in mind, and I try to hold myself to that goal for my fans’ sakes, but it is awesome being able to push it back a couple weeks or even better, release early. This time around, I am going to do a pre-order drive on Amazon and Smashwords, but I will only be doing that once the release date becomes more definitive. But it is so nice not having that deadline staring me in the face when I have work, grad school applications, and surrogate children to worry about, because honestly, those things are just a little more important to me. As most self-published authors can tell you, writing and self-publishing is another job, but whether it is your second job, or third job, or fourth job is up to you.

And no hard-set deadlines aren’t the absolute best thing about being self-published. The absolute best thing is not having to change anything about the story in order to mold it to a publisher’s liking. I have said it a million times on this blog, and a million more times through other channels, but I will say it for the millionth-and-first: When I write, I don’t want to be censored. When I say I want to write a book about a twenty-two year old departing the apocalypse-ravaged Earth and falling in love with a forty-five year old man while they try to reestablish life on a new planet in the midst of a really violent, really terrible, really obviously symbolic, civil war, then that is what I want to write. I don’t want James to be thirty. I don’t want Brynna to be twenty-eight or twenty-nine. I don’t want to write “caress-of-the-inner-thigh-fade-to-black” sex scenes. I don’t want to edit out any content. I don’t want to reshape everything so that the book can fit easily into any specific category, be it a specific genre or targeted towards a specific age-group. Every scene is there for a reason, and as I am the only person who knows where the story is going, it should be at my discretion what needs to be included, and what doesn’t. Say I add a lot of scenes with Brynna and her friend Rachel. Why do I do that? Well, because Rachel is going to play a very significant role in the third book, especially, but she will be ever-present in the second book, as well. I love that my readers know that I know what I’m doing, and that is not something I cannot guarantee would come with a traditional publisher. Because, in this self-publishing game, all that matters is an indie author’s readers, and no one else. If readers dig it, then I’m doing my job. As I’ve said before, this is a business, and being that I am the publisher as well as the author, it is my job to get the reader the best possible product. Sure, this is an “art form.” Sure, these books are my beautiful, wonderful, perfect, little babies whom I brought into this world with a lot of sweat and tears and pushing and screaming. But at the end of the day, my readers are giving me either their money or their time, and therefore, it is my responsibility to provide them with the best story that I can provide. Some people dig it, some people don’t. It’s fine either way. If readers dig it, I did my job. If they didn’t… Well, at least they didn’t pay any money for it; they just paid with their time, and I am sorry, I can’t refund that. But I would if I could!

So what brings this random love letter to self-publishing on? What made me want to give advice? Well, it was two years on the 1st since I published the first (pretty terrible) manuscript of The Shattered Genesis. When I started out, I knew nothing about the promotional side of self-publishing, nor did I know how to write very well. The Shattered Genesis has since been revised and re-released with additional content, and The Bargaining Path was written with the newly-honed writing skills I gathered in college. But besides celebrating the two-year anniversary of my first entry into the self-publishing world, I am writing this because it has been a pretty rough week in terms of my writing. When I get into one of my down moods, I start second-guessing myself, and though I always come through those periods of second-guessing with new epiphanies about this whole writing deal to carry me through, when I’m in the midst of those periods, it really sucks! On Monday, a short story I wrote got rejected for Tor.com, and not only did it get rejected, I received the most generic rejection letter that the magazine sends. Now, am I as emotionally invested in my short story as I am in the Eternity series? Hell. No. But still, I thought it was a pretty cool story. I still think it’s a really cool story. My reaction to this was made worse by being in a down mood, because honestly, for weeks leading up to the rejection, I was considering asking for a withdrawal from consideration because I wanted to self-publish on Amazon. So after two days of doubting my writing ability, I realized that a) everyone is going to have a different opinion about my work, and just because I think it’s damn near perfect doesn’t mean everyone will, and b) this all just comes down to people’s subjective opinions, and if Tor.com wants to send me a generic rejection letter like I just wrote the biggest heaping pile of shit ever, then fine. Amazon Short Stories, here I come. What does this reiterate to me? Well, it reiterates what I have been saying is one of the most important things for an indie author to know: I know that I believe in the product I have created, and I know I can sell it, so why am I going to rely on a foreign entity to sell it for me when I can do it myself? A lot of self-publishing can be summed up by sounding like the Little Red Hen:  “I dreamed up the book. I wrote the book. I published the book. I sold the book. I promoted the book.” And now, I am going to apply that same logic to my short story.

So much of this business relies upon the opinions of others. When people ask me about being a writer, specifically when they, too, want to be a writer, I always ask if they have thick skin. Generally, the answer I get is, “I don’t know,” to which I reply, very cryptically, with a Chesire Cat-like grin, “You will find out.” But when people say yes, I generally say, “Well, keep it that way” and if people say no, I don’t say, “Well, consider a different career,” I say, “It will get stronger over time, believe me.” When I was growing up, and I would ask writers who I went to see at speaking engagements what their advice would be for young writers, nine out of ten would say (and sometimes rather arrogantly), “Choose a different career.” Well, telling me that I can’t do something or that I shouldn’t do something drives my recklessly stubborn and ruthlessly persistent need to prove that yes, I can do it. So here I am today. Those same writers would more than likely also tell you that self-publishing is for writers whose stories and/or writing ability is so shitty that they can’t get published elsewhere, but if you read a lot of self-published work, you will see that that simply is not true.

The biggest advice I tell writers who ask me about writing and self-publishing now? It’s still “you gotta have thick skin” but now, I have added this: You have to believe in your own work. Know when criticism is valid, and know when you should just get on with your bad self and keep doing what you’re doing, and also, your work cannot please everyone. No matter how hard you try to make it appealing to a myriad of ages and to readers of all different genres, there will still be people who don’t like it, and that’s okay!

As long as you honestly feel like you have put every possible iota of energy and attention into your manuscript and into creating and promoting the final book, and that you have created the best possible product for your reading audience, then you’re going to be alright. In fact, I would even say that you are going to be a success.


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I’m T. Rudacille, author of the Eternity series. The first book in the series, The Shattered Genesis and the second book, The Bargaining Path, are available for FREE in the Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords stores, and The Shattered Genesis is also available in paperback on Amazon!

http://www.amazon.com/The-Shattered-Genesis-Eternity-Rudacille-ebook/dp/B009KC6XBO

http://www.amazon.com/Bargaining-Path-Eternity-Book-ebook/dp/B00JOOQYT4/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1411496318&sr=1-1&keywords=the+bargaining+path