Developing a Thick Skin

I didn’t start writing for fame or fortune. I started writing because I had a story in my head and heart that I needed to get out. Then, I continued writing to help work through things in my life. Now I write because it makes me feel alive and gives me a purpose that is all my own, not related to my kids or husband or parents.
I don’t even know how to handle the attention. I get all fluster and blush and stammer like an idiot. I don’t expect to be famous. When my daughter asked me the other day, I even said the only reason I’d want to be famous is so I could go on Dancing with the Stars. That’s pretty accurate. Other than that, I’d only like to be financially successful with my writing. I don’t need fame and fortune.
Never having loft goals of success, I never expected total strangers to read my books. But I did expect close friends and family to read my books. This is where I was totally off the mark. When my first book came out, a handful of friends and family bought it to support me. To be totally honest, it wasn’t well edited. In fact, I’ve considered going back and revising the whole book as I’ve learned more and strengthened my writing. I still love the story, but I don’t think it’s truly reflective of my abilities. I don’t know if friends and family read that book that thought horrible things and never wanted to read another book. I sort of feel like that must be what’s happened. Surely, it must be the reason that my friends and family don’t read my books.
I’m not talking everyone. My mom reads my books. I have a cousin or two who read me. My husband and father do not, which I’m okay with. After all, I write chick lit and women’s fiction. Neither one of them are readers. I don’t expect them to read me. They are supportive in many other ways, including taking care of the kids so I can write. I appreciate my guy friend from high school who bought my book with no intention of reading it (he told me so). I’m grateful for the support.
What I was surprised by, and continue to be hurt—offended, annoyed—by is the lack of support and acknowledgment from family and what I thought were close friends. I’ve been doing this for over three years now. You’d think I’d be used to it. From my brother and sister-in-law who have never once even acknowledged that I’ve published one book, let alone seven, to my aunt who constantly posts on Facebook about books to read and books for her book club, but won’t like my author page, to my so-called-friend who asks me if I’m going to cover a specific subject in a book. Which I did. Two years ago.
When my new co-workers read my book for a book club but a friend asks for a book club recommendation—”Not yours”—it hurts. When your cousin’s wife, with whom you consulted for a book, asks if I ever finished it, and it’s been out for over 18 months. When your aunts and friends don’t come to your book signings.
I wish it didn’t bother me. My great-aunt and second (third?) cousin have contacted me about my books. My best friend is like a one-woman PR department (and to thank her, she gets a character named after her in every book). Honestly, I receive support from virtual strangers that I never envisioned. I have become friends with people all over the country and even the world.
It’s not like they’re trolls, talking badly about me. But it sort of feels that way. I mean, aren’t the people you’re friends with supposed to be your cheerleaders? Isn’t your family supposed to support your business venture? I expected to get bad reviews and even have people say bad things about my books. For the most part, these things don’t bother me. My skin is thick enough. I need to make my skin a little thicker when it comes to the people who refuse to support me. While I’m working on that, I need to focus on the positive. The new friends I’ve made. The new readers who have found me. Like my books, it’s a work in progress.

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