Success still doesn’t always pay the bills and why that’s okay.

It is 6:34am and if I focus, I mean REALLY, REALLY focus I can get this blog entry running through my head and out before I need to shower, pack the car and wake up The Soph and get out the door to Norcross Splashfest where I am doing storytime today at 12pm and tomorrow at 1pm (plug!). Coffee will help. One moment. Sluuuuurp.

Okay then.

The Universe has been pretty amazing to me lately. I am getting opportunities to travel, both locally and out-of-state. People want to fly me (and GASP! pay me!) to come for storytimes and school visits. I am being invited to festivals and people are talking about flying me to conferences. I am getting emails that my books are selling with ‘great success.’ Really? Me? When did this all happen? How?

Well I do know ‘how’ – the ‘when’ just all snowballed. Over the past 10 years.

You know, when you work for anything, not just an artistic dream, but maybe a medical degree, science degree, mechanic certificate, there are inevitably DAYS. You know the kind – the late night, what in the heck am I doing this for, everyone else on the planet has the common sense to be out with friends, watching tv, eating a pizza, SLEEPING and you are EXHAUSTED wondering if ANY of this is worth it AT ALL. I mean, there you sit late at night painting, watching all the ailments of Henry the XIII and all about every single wife because the Tudors series is over and you are in withdrawels so deep you will take anything, and I mean ANYTHING to ease the shakes – did you know his skin was rotted so bad you could smell him from 3-4 rooms away? In a CASTLE. And last time I checked? Castles? BIG rooms. No, that’s just me? Ahem… Anyway, um…where was I? Yes, late night, the rest of the world certainly has it easier than you. Right?

I have known for a long time now that I wanted to write and illustrate children’s picture books. I have been an artist for as long as I can remember. I always felt lucky that at least I KNEW my dream. That right there? The knowing? Way ahead of the life game in my opinion. At least I had an INKLING the path I thought I was supposed to be on. I say this, because, I am not so smug to think I have the Universe all figured out. I see myself writing and drawing for children until I am so old I cannot grasp a pencil in my hand anymore. (then I want to be like Henri Matisse and have some poor assistant do my bidding while I hold a long stick from my bed. (Google it.))

But I do get the Universe has its own ideas. Perhaps I am right, perhaps not. But this I know: I am exactly where I am supposed to be right now. I feel it to the depths of my soul. And every single pet portrait, missed vacation, missed sleep, delirious, bleary-eyed walk to the bed at 4am after finishing some painting made it worth it. And yes, I sure wanted to give up MANY times. Because sometimes following your dream is so damn hard. And let’s not forget about reality. If I had a dollar for every time someone offered me an ‘opportunity’ for ‘exposure’ that helped them out but sure as heck didn’t pay me? Well, I would have actually had money for bills. HA!

And just so we are clear, I am not swimming in money. A lot of my visits that I am doing are expenses only pay. I am going to Panama City for a week and won’t come home with any money, but I won’t have spent any and I WILL have sold a lot of books and MOST importantly, talked with and hopefully inspired hundreds of children.

Yes, I want to make money at this. I have to. I have bills to pay like everyone else. But success for me is about doing what I love and following my dreams and my passions. I am very lucky to have a partner that is paying the bills while I pursue this. I know that and I don’t take it for granted for one single second. That gives me the advantage of being able to do all this faster. But make no mistake, I would still be doing this if I was still single, had a full time job and had to do all this at nights and weekends. Because for the past 10 years? That is exactly what I have done. When you are on your right path, even when you don’t know where it is leading you, you can’t not do it. In my experience anyways. Money or no.

So yes, I still don’t make so much money. I still get rejections all the time on my other books. (good ones, we are CLOSE, but nonetheless rejections. And WOO-BOY! do they still sting. Recovery is faster though.) And dude, I have NO CLUE how I am coming up with $5000 more dollars to produce my Whatif Monsters if I don’t get more pre-sales either. I am DETERMINED to earn it myself through pre-sales or school visit money or pet portrait earnings!! I will NOT give up!!

Um, on that note? Would you pretty please like to pre-order a Whatif Monster? They will give you good luck and magic and darnit if they aren’t the CUTEST things! Really. Go here now and get one – only $15! Awesome. Thanks!

It is 7:09 am and I think I got out what I wanted to. The message in a nutshell? Success is something you feel. It is not always reflected in your bank account in the beginning. Or maybe ever. (but let’s hope enough to pay our bills, right?) But when you know you are doing what you are meant to be doing, even if it is for just right now? There is no amount of money in the world that can buy that feeling. This I know.

If you are not already following your dreams? BEGIN. Today. Even if it is just having the COURAGE to admit what it is you LONG and DESIRE to do. (And totes order a Whatif Monster to remind you everyday to keep at it. What? Don’t forget to be a good business person too, I know you’ve got bills too. Believe you me, the gas company don’t take passion for payment. I tried that.)

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