Yesterday I wrote a blog post about how to stay in a job you hate. In the post I talk about an office job I worked and hated for ten years. It was sarcastic and discussed the things I did to make the passage of time less excruciatingly boring and how I avoided going down those dark thought holes that lead to life dread and depression. I ended up not posting it because I envisioned applying for a job in the future and not getting an interview because someone stumbled across the post. I actually thought the post was pretty funny and clever. And I have heard that the most successful posts are the ones where you feel a little scared to post them. I have not confirmed this statistically (nor could I probably) but I feel like there is some truth to this idea. The posts where I am a little afraid to publish are the ones that expose some secret part of myself and contain real emotion. Anyway, I ended up not posting it because I was scared that it might come back and bite me down the line. This is an example of me not putting myself out there. It might be a missed opportunity. Maybe some book publisher or movie producer might have stumbled upon it and offered me some kind of book or movie deal. This is where my mind goes anyway.
As I said, I did not end up putting myself out there on that one. But I know I have to put myself out there sometimes otherwise I will remain stuck and frustrated with life. But the act of putting myself out there is tough for me because I am shame oriented and expect people to judge me negatively. I can forgive myself for not publishing that post because I recently did put myself out there in an e-book I recently self published. I fear other people’s reactions to this book because I got pretty personal talking about my emotions and I mention other people although I did not identify anyone other than myself specifically by name. Still, anyone who knows me would probably be able to figure out who most of the people are.
On that one I did put myself out there. I cast the die and let the chips fall where they may. Mostly likely nothing will result from it one way or the other. That is probably worse than getting a bad reaction come to think of it. The fear of no reaction is actually a big reason not to put myself out there. Of course if I do not put myself out there I guarantee that I will receive no reaction. To bring things full circle, I think not putting myself out there was certainly a contributing factor as to why I stayed working a job I hated for ten years of my life. Of course the root of this behavior is fear and fear is not easily overcome but it can be.
English: American Way of life (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Recently I was on hold with the Water Department. I needed to change my billing address because I had moved. At the time I was renting the house I owned in Philadelphia. For some reason the water department would not change the bill to my renter’s name so I had to get the bill and add it to the rent every month. I remember the hold music was cool jazz and was designed to have no beginning or end. It just seamlessly repeated itself over and over. I recall listening to an episode of “This American Life” where someone was on hold with similar music. They posited that the music was designed so that the listener did not experience the passage of time and therefore did not realize how long they had been on hold.
Sometimes I find myself waiting at a red light and it seems like the light has been red too long. I start to wonder if the timing mechanism on the light is broken. After a period of time I have to make a decision whether I should run the red light or to continue waiting. Running the red light means breaking the rules. Waiting carries with it the possibility that I am being foolish in some way. And so I am left in an unsatisfying limbo.
I just published an e-book. Some friends of mine said they would read it. I have not heard back from them and am left to wonder, did they read it? If so, are they not getting back to me because they did not like it and either do not care or do not want to hurt my feelings. Similarly, I hate sending out an email to someone and they simply do not respond. It makes me feel like I am unimportant. It makes me feel like they think their time is intrinsically more important than my time. Thinking about this makes me angry. It touches my shame and brings up past hurts.
Of course most of this is just my shame ego messing with me. The Water Department is a bureaucracy staffed by government employees punching the clock. I am no more or less important to them than any other caller. The red light is a mindless, mechanical contraption (at least for now) and has no agenda or motivation to shame me. My friends have their own lives and of course their time is more valuable to them than my time is valuable to them. It would be ridiculous to think otherwise. Just as my time is more important to me than their time is important to me. But when there is a lack of information my shame ego fills the vacuum. As will all things connected with my shame ego, awareness of this dynamic is helpful. But awareness does not really erase my impatience. I suppose I must chalk this one up to samsara (life is suffering) and of course I have some nostalgic longing for life not to be like this. As the Buddha said, life is suffering and the cause of suffering is desire. Not that I am a Buddhist but I do think there is some truth to it. Perhaps I am continuously being reincarnated like that hold music the water department plays on the telephone.
In 2013 I read a book by James Altucher entitled Choose Yourself. I had been a regular reader of his articles and books and at the time I was going through a major life transition on all levels. I had lost my job and moved in with my parents in 2009. I was able to find part-time work but was not making enough to move out. I was desperately depressed, my marriage was on the rocks and my life seemed stuck. There were many things that helped me to ultimately turn my life around but one of them was James Altucher’s book. One of the things he talked about that really stuck with me was the idea that the 9 to 5 corporate cubicle jobs that disappeared in the recession of 2008 were not coming back and the ones that remained would probably disappear eventually as well. The only way to survive ultimately is to become an entrepreneur — to choose yourself.
Somewhere in his book he also mentioned that he was interested in what motivated internet trolls. Knowing a thing or two on the subject I sent him a long email explaining my experiences and what I thought were my motivations when I trolled. To my surprise he responded pretty quickly and asked if he could use what I wrote for an article. I agreed.
After his article was published (thinking along the entrepreneurial lines he espoused in his book) I asked if he was interested in collaborating on a book about trolling. Graciously he encouraged me to write what ultimately became the book I recently published entitled Shame and Internet Trolling. He told me to make it personal and embarrassing and said he would connect me with an editor when I finished.
For a year I woke up at 5:00am gathering old blog posts relevent to the subject and writing new ones all of which are available on this blog. I then consolidated and edited all this information into a first draft manuscript. When I started this project my marriage was failing and I worked from home out of my parents’ basement in Connecticut. By the time I finished my marriage was great and had moved to North Carolina. The process of writing the book was incredibly therapeutic for me.
I approached James and told him I was finished with the manuscript. He introduced me to a person named Zach Obront who works with people who publish ebooks. For about $2, 500 he offered to edit and help publish and market my work. I agreed thinking at the very least this would be a learning opportunity on the process. He then assigned an editor to read my manuscript. Based on the editor’s really helpful comments I spent another couple of months rewriting and editing. Having an editor read and comment on my writing was definitely a crucial part of the process. Finally I had a finished product.
Zach suggested I use 99 Designs to set up a competition to design the cover artwork. It cost around $250 and took a few weeks to fully play out. Using their service I set up a contest where artists submitted book covers which I rated and gave feedback to. Then there was a final round where the best contributors competed for the final design. In the end I selected a winner who received a cash prize. Once the cover art was completed Zach suggested I use Bookbaby to digitally convert my manuscript into an e-book and then distribute it to Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other outlets. This also cost about $300. I would definitely recommend both of these services.
Once the book was distributed Zach provided a list of blogs, podcasts and other media outlets I could approach to market my book as a guest writer. This, I found to be the least helpful part. Most of the outlets he mentioned specifically did not want their guest writers marketing their books and many of them were not really on point with the subject of my book. So if I had to do it over I would have skipped the marketing aspect and would have saved myself about $1000. Probably books on more marketable subjects would benefit more from the research Zach and his people provided.
So that’s my experience of writing and publishing my e-book. I am still in the marketing phase so I will probably have more to say on that subject as I figure out what I am doing.