Friday, June 22, 2012

Of Big Swings and Courage

Last summer, we entertained six family members, including three 11-year-olds, here in Colorado. Those children craved Rocky Mountain high adventure, so we took a river rafting trip, dug for fossils, and traveled to Glenwood Springs, Colorado.

Glenwood Springs is a tourist-driven town squeezed by corrugated redstone mountains. It’s a peaceful place known for its mineral hot springs, mountain biking, river rafting, and absolutely fabulous restaurants.

We hadn’t driven ninety miles with three children for anything as pastoral as a mineral hot springs, so we headed up the mountain on a tram to the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park where they have a ride innocuously referred to as the Giant Canyon Swing.

My much older sister had already tried the ride and deemed it a hoot. And yet, since we traveled to the park by our recommendation, my husband and I felt a responsibility to go first. We didn’t want the children to be permanently damaged by the trauma of swinging over a 1300 foot cliff.

Yep, you read that correctly. The swing arcs over a 1300 foot cliff. Made out of rock, too.

Hunky Hubby and I stood in line behind two farm-fresh little girls from Nebraska. I asked one, “Are you nervous?”

She flipped a nonchalant wrist. “This is our third time.”

Third time? The girls weren’t as tall as my shoulder. How bad could this be? Obviously, a group of screaming ninnies had filled the queue just before we stepped into line. If little girls enjoyed the ride three times, there was nothing to worry about. I mirrored the girls’ confidence. On the outside only.  Inside, my heart pounded on my ribs, and an inner, saner voice nagged me to look for a pony ride. I love pony rides. They’re slow. Low to the ground.

There was no pony ride.

We put our toes to the painted line and watched as the little girls scampered into their seats and squealed at the sweeping movements of the swing. Easy breezy.

And then it was our turn. We chose our seats, the ones that gave us a full-frontal view of the canyon floor. A pimply-faced ride operator cinched us in. I think he was twelve. For good measure, I asked him to cinch a little tighter, please.

The swing is propelled by a hydraulic something-or-other that hisses and grinds. I could have done without the sound effects. Each arc of the swing goes higher and higher, until you swing above horizontal, also known as the wet-your-pants apex.

I wasn’t prepared for the terror. Yes, I had been a bit apprehensive, but remember the squealing girls and my much older sister. How bad could this be? As it turns out, very bad. Horrifically bad. Stupendously bad. I hated it.

I heard the hissing of the workings. I saw lots of blue sky and too much space between me and the ground. I did not hear my husband’s screams, although the cousins teased him about his amazing range all afternoon. No, I stayed smack in the middle of my own terror, thank you very much.

Off the ride (cue Hallelujah Chorus), my husband said, “That really got to me.”

Nothing gets to Dennis, not blood spurting out of our child’s head, not being awake for his own knee replacement surgery, not rattlesnakes.


“I’m shaking.” He held out his hand to prove it.

“Really? Are you all right?”

“I think so.”

“You think so?”

Dennis has heart disease. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. I watched him carefully, asked him if he still carried nitro tablets on his key ring, but he’d tossed those ages ago. He assured me he was fine, so in no time we were climbing a caged stairway to fly down the mountain on a zipline. Just before we stepped off the platform, he said, “I’m still shaking.”

Such is fear, real or perceived.  We all experience it differently. There’s a whole psychology of fear that I won’t (and can’t) go into here, but I’m thinking about that swing more and more these days.

I feel like I’m standing in that line again, my toes on the white line, waiting for my turn to be stupid. No, wait, I didn’t mean to say “stupid.” I meant, courageous. Yes, to be courageous, to be propelled by undefinable forces into the unknown, which, for me, is Indie publishing.

It helps a little bit to think of Independent Publishing as an adventure park ride. The odds of dying are quite small, not zero, but really quite small, and I’ve already felt like I’ve taken a stab wound to the heart and survived. To be frank, I have nothing to lose. Besides, there are lots of fresh-faced “children” who have gone before and will most certainly flip a nonchalant wrist at my fears.

This taking publishing matters (novel matters?) into my own hands is audacious. At least, it feels that way. But it’s time. It’s past time.

I’m definitely headed for a collision between my calling and my greatest joy. Why am I still standing here?

Have you done the indie publishing thing? Any advice? Warnings? Have you considered indie publishing and decided it’s not for you? Why or why not? Have you read any good indie books lately? Titles, please.


Sandra Stiles said...

Oh Patti, I didn't have to go on the ride to feel the terror. Watching the video was enough. But, you faced that fear head on. Fall Creek Falls, Tennessee, to get to it you must cross a swinging bridge over a smaller falls. I would get in the middle of the bridge and freeze unable to move forward or backward. I've now been across that bridge 8 times. I even found out you could actually drive to it after my first trip across. Why did I press on? I was not going to let anything get in the way of my goal. It is that way with self-publishing. You take it one step at a time. I self-published my first book at the recommendation of my agent. We wanted it out in time for the tenth anniversary of 9/11. It was terrifying. You can do it. I review a lot of indie fiction. Here are just two that I happen to think are wonderful.
Annesia's Quest by Karen Arnpriester
High Treason by Samuel Oakes

Susie Finkbeiner said...

That video got to me. Oh, mercy. My fear of falling...I can't even talk about it...

Anyway...Patti!!! I'm so excited for this adventure you're on! You know that I'll order your book as soon as it's ready. And I'll make sure all my people know about it, too!!!

Much love to you!

Karen @ a house full of sunshine said...

That video actually made my palms sweat.

I really thought you were going to tell us your hubby had a heart attack on your way back to the car. Glad you both survived!

Wow, Indie publishing - that is an adventure! I hope you're wildly blessed beyond belief throughout the whole journey. You know I'll be buying your book, too. And talking you up wherever I can. You're just so ridiculously talented. Your words deserve to be out there, and GOOD ON YOU for making it happen on your own terms.

GO PATTI!!! (Picture me with pom-poms!)

Patti Hill said...

Sandra: I happen to like swinging bridges. I know! Fear is so variable. I'm very proud of you for facing yours down and taming that bridge. Thanks for the titles and the encouragement. You're dear.

Susie: This particular adventure park used to have a gravity driven swing over the same cliff. Piece of cake. I loved it, went on the ride twice. This propelled stuff is for the birds. And zero gravity? It's not that much fun. Thanks for the offer to chat up my book. I'll definitely take you up on that.

Karen: I always wanted to be a pom-pom girl, and now, with this great community of writers we've gathered at Novel Matters, we can do that for each other. You're especially good at it, sweet thang.

Anonymous said...

haha...the funny thing those little girls...I was much more courageous (ignorant)as a young'un than I am now. That video made my skin crawl and my belly churn. You are courageous Miss Patti. And as long as you keep writing...I don't think it matters how you publish...just keep at it. You're marvelous. Much love :).

Cherry Odelberg said...

Oh Patti, best wishes on the indie publishing thing. You can do it. It should work well for you because you already have an audience and a platform.

In November of 2009, I opted to self-publish my children's book, The Pancake Cat -
I was not expecting to make a lot of money and I had the bare minimum of money to invest in the project, so I could not buy additional marketing or exposure.

But here are some thoughts on which I based my decision:
1) I wanted to finish a project and see it through to the end to prove to myself I was dependable.
2) At the time, I was hearing that publishers required a lot of marketing and time investment from the authors. If I was going to give that much time anyway; I might as well do it myself.
3) Publish on demand was on the rise and becoming available in so many ways - so I would not be left with a stack of unsold books.

My book has sold equal to the time I have invested in it :)

I am sure you will do well because you already know the ropes. Also because you have the added confidence of already having been affirmed by a publisher.

Bonnie Grove said...

I read the entire article first, then I watched the video.

Me (watching the video): Oh Patti, that's a bad idea.


You're crazy, Patti.


Oh HURL--I can't believe you DID that, Patti.


Indie publishing will be a breeze after that.


After that, you'd be able to publish anything with a sense of courage.


Really hate this video.


Truly might hurl.

Mary in Idaho said...

Happy to hear you are getting ready for another book launch, Patti Hill. I have read the "Garden Gate" series at least five times, so greatly anticipate this new book. I'm not a writer, but an avid reader with lots of opinions of what I personally like in a Christian fiction novel. I have tried several self published novels, I say tried, because I did not finish many of them. I did happily finish the good ones and recommend them to others. The one HUGE criticism I have of self published books is LACK OF EDITING. Even a great story line can be killed with no editing. This might sound harsh, but as a lover of Christian fiction it is so disappointing to have a good premise fall flat. That's my two cents. I will be watching for the announcement of your new book release. Blessings on your writing efforts. They are greatly enjoyed.

Patti Hill said...

Ashten: Youth definitely has its privileges, especially ignorance. I have a much longer home video of me on top of an 18' pole shaking and crying my eyes out. They wanted me to jump and catch a trapeze, said we were team building. I say every woman for herself when it comes to ridiculous heights. Thanks for the encouraging words, Ashten. That's something you're especially good at. How's baby girl?

Cherry, I'm hoping right over to your site to see your book. Yes, there is front-end money needed. Fortunately, while I don't have buckets of the stuff, I do have a supportive patron, said hunky husband. He's right behind me, within reason. Thanks for sharing your wisdom with all of us.

Bonnie! You should have been there to stop me. My heart rate increases when I watch the video too. Crazy. They now have a roller coaster that cantilevers over the cliff's edge. NO WAY!

Mary: Five times? Really? Thanks for that. And I hear you about the editing thing. That's where the front-end money will go. A good editor is a must. Thanks for being forthright.

Kathleen Popa said...

Never. Never ever.

Megan Sayer said...

Gosh, am I the only person here who watched that video and wondered when I could have a go? I'm a crazy daredevil at heart : )

Seriously though, Patti I applaud you. It's a brave decision, but you've got such a huge and loyal readership, it sounds like the perfect thing for right now.
My husband is in the music industry, and I was talking to him about indie publishing just the other day. Music did a similar thing about ten years ago, the big shift from the record industries being the gatekeepers to the huge rise of indie artists who have found their way in, and are thriving.
It's not to say that the shift - and the giving up of the old order - isn't painful, but it's kind of freeing at the same time. We can make it. We can do it!

When's the book coming out? I'm dying to read it!!!

Lori Benton said...

I don't do heights. You are very brave. I can't even bring myself to watch the video.

Praying God opens all the right doors (as if He wouldn't!) and makes the way through Indie publishing far less daunting for you!

Patti Hill said...

Megan: I'm not surprised you would jump at the chance to try the Giant Swing. You have verve!

There are lots of parallels between the music industry and book selling with the changes the digital age has brought. I'm taking steps that are feeling more comfortable all the time. I start cover art tomorrow. I would like to get the book out before Christmas, but the nice part about Indie publishing is that I don't have to release a work until I feel it's ready. An early spring release would be just fine with me, too.

Lori: Thanks for your prayers. We've all invested in ourselves as writers to build craft and give ourselves a chance to meet the right people. Now, I'm writing checks and shopping prices and looking at portfolios of work. It's very real that I'm putting cash down to create a product. I want to create something beautiful to honor Papa God.

Lynn said...

I'll have you know I'd already watched that video when you first posted about what you were going to do...and yes, my eyes were open!
Don't know what it means to go independent but know that whatever you do you're going to do great!

Anonymous said...

Go for it! You'll do very well, I predict. :)