I've never been a big fan of yard work. Evidently, my parents weren't either, because, as a kid, I did the bulk of the yard work. Fortunately, for my kids, we don't have a lawn or, even, much of a yard, and what there is is rocks (because that's what the previous owners had put in rather than have a tiny lawn to tend (and, I have to say, these rocks are terrible. Tiny and red, they get tracked everywhere, because they quite easily get stuck in shoes and stuff)). But, when I was a kid, we had a big yard with lots of trees. And lots of leaves. And I hated raking. More than raking, I hated bagging the leaves. It was the worst.
The yard also had a steep hill down to the sidewalk (on two sides, since we lived on a corner), but, even with the hill, I preferred mowing to raking. Besides, when I mowed, I would mow designs into the yard. Not permanent designs, because, once the yard was mowed, there was no design. But, still, my dad always got pissed when I was doing diagonals and stuff and would yell at me for messing up the grass. Seriously. (And I always wanted to say, "Then you mow it," but I never did.)
In my current "yard," though, even with the rocks, there are weeds. They grow up between the rocks, and it's difficult to get rid of them. For one thing, you can't just go out and mow them down. The last several weeks, I've sort of let the weeds take over, because they were growing up faster than I could pull them out.
And that's what it's like, sometimes, being an indie author. For one thing, you have to tend your own emotional lawn. Those big name authors often have plenty of people to help with theirs, not to mention the fans which will plant plenty of flowers (praise). But indies... well, they get to tend their lawns pretty much on their own.
And it can be tough. You get your book out there, but, really, no one knows who you are, and it doesn't generate the kind of sales you'd hoped for, and you don't get the kinds of reviews you'd hoped for, either in number or quality, or you get that one really bad review that just breaks your heart and makes you wonder what you're doing anyway, and, suddenly, your emotional lawn is full of weeds: resentment, envy, bitterness, even thoughts of revenge. Basically, you have a lawn that's invested in how others treat it. You're allowing people outside of yourself to control what grows in your own emotional lawn.
And, really, why should those other people care what's growing in your lawn?
Even the people that do care, close friends and family, and may try to help you out with the weed pulling ("That bad review doesn't mean anything." "Keep working at it, sales will get better." "Don't worry that <someone else> is doing better than you."), won't keep it up for long if you continue to allow strangers the power to grow weeds in your emotions.
Really, you are the only person that can control what you have growing in your emotional lawn. You have to cultivate grass, an attitude of doing your thing without regard to the outside. You have to tend the grass, work at it, mow it, water it. You do just have to keep working and doing your own thing. And, when you see a weed popping up, you have to go over and pull that sucker up, because they breed like crazy, so you can't let them start.
Why is this important? Because, as an indie author, your lawn is almost as important as your books. Maybe as important. Maybe, even, more important. When you're big and famous (and rich), you can pass almost anything off as just being the product of an eccentric artist-type, but, when you're a little indie guy, how you behave (what your lawn looks like) is a lot of what attracts new readers, so, if you have a ton of weeds (bad behavior and attitude), it won't matter how good your books are, people won't want to come around. (That's why when authors have public meltdowns over bad reviews (or whatever) can ruin their careers before they even get started.)
So, yeah, maintaining your emotional lawn as an indie author is a lot of work. But it's one of those things that has to be done. But, you know, you can always have fun with it and mow in some diagonals, checker boards, or, even, swirls.
This post has been brought to you in part by Indie Life.