This should probably be dealt with in therapy, but I don’t have a therapist, so here goes

214 Comments

I’ve had a shitty last six months.

I mean, it’s not normal to want to burst into tears (and occasionally do so) whenever someone asks a simple “how are you,” right?

Well, that’s been my normal for quite some time…

I discovered after the first book release how very much I loved the highs that came along with publishing a book. Sure, there were lows last year – that time a single person came to a reading comes to mind – but there were enough highs to balance them out. Hitting the New York Times list! Going on a book tour! Earning out my advance! Selling the foreign rights! The highs were so, so high. And I became completely addicted to them.

They ended abruptly, however, and over the summer I called my agent and told her I was bored. Nobody wanted to interview me or have me speak at events or do readings anywhere, I whined. I missed the excitement; the roller coaster ride I’d been spoiled by. Write another book, she responded simply. So I did.

After the hard part – the writing- was over, I excitedly prepared for the release. No longer a first time author, I knew exactly what to expect this time. It would be bigger and better than the last one. Bring on the highs, universe! I was ready with a capital R.

Unfortunately, those highs I’d been craving never came. That second book? It turned out to be nothing but lows. Low after low after low that kicked my sorry ass.

It began immediately before the release date when I was informed that because of a dispute with my publisher, Simon and Schuster, Barnes and Noble would be pulling all of my books – along with those from many other of their authors – from store shelves. Like, every store shelf. No in-store promotion, no on-line promotion, no Barnes and Noble book tour. Just like that. I was asked not to talk about the whole mess, so I didn’t. Focus on Amazon sales, put on a happy face and move forward, I was advised. So that’s what I tried to do.

The first week’s performance was dismal. And it only got worse.

It could have been the Barnes and Noble thing. Or the bombings at the Boston Marathon that happened shortly after. Or the abundance of similar themed books to come out at the same exact time. Perhaps it was just too soon for another book or maybe I was just meant to be a one hit book wonder.

Whatever it was, while the first book’s sales were strong enough to safely assume there’d be a follow up, the second one was making it pretty clear there wouldn’t be a third. I felt rather like I’d been hit by a train. How’d that happen when I signed up for a fucking roller coaster?

And the lows just kept on coming. The amazing 20/20 segment my community members and I filmed was killed because it was simply too… positive. It wasn’t juicy enough; not salacious enough to make good TV. The press coverage I was promised never came through. Books never arrived to several events I appeared at, so even though I had a captive audience, I was unable to actually sell them books. I tried to maintain a sense of humor and perspective over it all, but without the highs to balance out the lows, book number two became nothing but a failure to me.

Time after time, I was advised not to talk about the negative stuff on the site. Nobody likes a loser; if you appear successful, you’ll be successful, I was told. So, I stayed mum and hoped the book would somehow turn itself around, and every week it didn’t, another little piece of my self-worth would chip away.

This blog — the one place I’ve always been honest and nothing but — became somewhere I suddenly had to fake it. I built a whole community based on telling the truth, and here I was unable to address any of the feelings and disappointments I was dealing with. I’d write stupid fluffy pieces, unable to go any deeper because deeper was the bad stuff I wasn’t supposed to talk about. It felt dishonest to write anything substantial without really delving into what I was dealing with. So I slowly disappeared, adding more and more contributors to the roster to write words that I could not.

I am proud that this site has become so community driven. There are countless things I can’t write about anymore – pregnancy seems like a lifetime ago, and my kids are at an age where I’m not willing to share each and every little thing that they go through. I love having other women fill that void and add perspectives that I am unable to. But, at the same time, I missed having a voice here, too, and I started to resent the site because of it. The site I built; the site I love.

This probably sounds utterly shallow and ridiculous. Maybe you’re rolling your eyes and filing this under “Problems Entitled Bitches Have.” I’ve been so lucky to even publish two books and things certainly could be a hell of a lot worse. But, right or wrong, the last six months have beaten me down. It’s been six months of putting on a happy face and not burning bridges and doing what I was told.

It’s been six months too long. And I’m done.

I’m finally ready to crawl out of the hole I’ve put myself in. I want to feel the pride I once felt here instead of drowning under the weight of disappointment. I want to write again, instead of feeling nothing but insecurity and deleting posts before publishing them, hiding behind the role of editor. I want to be inspired and excited and positive, and I don’t think I can do that unless I come clean with you all about how it’s been.

So, there you have it; the honest to goodness truth from me, for a change. Halle-fucking-lujah.

Onward and upward, my friends. It’s time.

Comments

The Scary Mommy Community is built on support. If your comment doesn't add to the conversation in a positive or constructive way, please rethink submitting it. Basically? Don't be a dick, please.

  1. 1

    says

    Jill, thank you so much for being so vulnerable and honest. It took ginormoguts to put yourself out there and you have nothing but my admiration for it. You also have my ongoing support, regardless of how many books you write/publish/sell. You’re an inspiration BECAUSE OF, not in spite of, your authenticity. Kudos to you. And lots of love.

    Show Replies
      • 3

        Helen says

        You know, not everything works. WE all loved the 2nd book. Publishers suck, and bookstores that fight with them and won’t sell their books? Well, they’re just losing money hand over fist. I rarely shop at B&N anymore, because I shouldn’t have to PAY for the “privilege” of a discount every time I buy something, there was another bookstore that used to do this…they are no longer in business.

        You, and this site, have saved my sanity, you know my story, so it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the guilt I feel when I get angry or lose my cool with my child weighs heavily. If I’d had to deal with the sanctimommies all over the internet I probably would have thrown my computer across the room, because while being a mom is the best thing that’s ever happened, it’s also the dirtiest and ugliest. It’s NOT always fun, but you’ve provided a forum to let the dirty laundry hang out, to admit we’re not perfect, and not be judged. You should be incredibly proud of yourself, the website, and Scary Mommy Nation.
        I get the excitement of the publicity, you have no idea how disappointed I was about the 20/20 thing and it totally sucked that it never aired anyway, but idk, I think that’s a good thing, because the good stuff of motherhood FAR outweighs the bad, even though we can admit the bad is there.
        So what if S&S and B&N have their heads up their collective asses, You ROCK, Jill, no matter what!

        Show Replies
  2. 4

    Joanne says

    Thank-you Jill! This is probably my first comment here since I stumbled upon this blog about a year ago. Believe it or not, I diligently read every single entry that had been posted. And recently, I wondered when this site became so different. It had been so funny and full of life… Where was Jill? Thank you for sharing. You’re blatant honesty is what made this blog so enjoyable. I hope this is the first of many more real life posts for you! And I’m sorry your book didn’t work out as you had hoped.

    Show Replies
  3. 7

    says

    Glad to see you back: as interesting as the other stories were, it just wasn’t the same her and I found myself coming back a little less often. You are the life of this blog, you always made me laugh and also kept things in perspective when I most needed it. My kids have grown too and I am sure we can all relate to other stuff that does not involve babies and diapers and toddlers, although you have many talented writers tackling those subjects for those who are in that phase of their lives. I would love to hear your voice more often and I think you were amazing and brave to write this post. You go girl!

    Show Replies
    • 8

      Jill Smokler, AKA Scary Mommy says

      Thank you. It’s definitely not as easy writing about them as they get older, but I don’t think it’s impossible, either. We’ll see!

      Show Replies
      • 9

        Rebecca says

        Glad you found your way back to us! Love your blog – have 2 in college, 1 graduated and working, 2 in high school, one in prek, and one toddler. Love the little kid stories but those bigger kids say stuff everyday that floors me too. Age doesn’t matter – even if all I had were little ones and I read your blog I can still relate because “we were all young once” LOL Whatever you decide to do – DON’T STOP. And don’t let “them” stop you. Politics are imaginary…Dorothy never really left the farm remember?

        Show Replies
  4. 10

    says

    Hi Jill

    First, stop feeling guilty for feeling sad and disappointed by your second book. You don’t need to compound sad with guilt.

    Second I can relate to the “Problems Entitled Bitches Have.” I look around at my beautiful life and think I don’t deserve to be sad or disappointed but you know what, sometimes I am and I have a right to my feelings. I just cannot allow sadness to replace gratitude.

    Third, isn’t it funny how we only concentrate on the negative. On one side your first book did so well, but it sounds like you are consumed by the “failed book.” Right now you are 50% up, don’t concentrate on the 50% down. And who says that a failed second book does not lead to a third book? Some of the best authors in the world are periodically disappointed by a book sale. They just go ahead and write a third book anyway.

    Take care Jill.

    Show Replies
    • 11

      Jill Smokler, AKA Scary Mommy says

      Funny how that works, huh? Maybe I’ll look back on all of this someday as teaching me resilience and maybe some good will even come from it all. For the first time, that seems like a possibility.

      Show Replies
  5. 12

    says

    Am BLOWN AWAY by this post. Want to know why? Probably not, but I am going to tell you anyway! ;) Because you, Jill Smokler, aka Scary Mommy, are the bar that so many of us out in the blogosphere set for ourselves. And to know that you, the one who reached the point that *should* have been the pinnacle of awesome, still struggles…well, I think all of us out here can sit back and remember that these “famous” bloggers are still people, too. People who feel highs AND lows. People who feel insecure and unsure and wonder what the next step is going to be. People who are real. And honest. Bravo to you for sharing exactly how you have been feeling. You rock!-Ashley

    Show Replies
    • 13

      Lisa @ The Golden Spoons says

      Can I just say ditto?? Because this is what I was thinking the whole time I read. All (at least many) of us “little bloggers” are striving to achieve the kind of success you have achieved here with Scary Mommy. This is a poignant reminder that everyone – even the people we think “have it all” – everyone has struggles; highs & lows. Thank you so much for your honesty and vulnerability!

      Show Replies
    • 14

      Jill Smokler, AKA Scary Mommy says

      It’s funny – whatever I’ve accomplished, there’s always been someone who has done more, and THAT’S where I’ve focused all of my energy. Such a crappy thing to do!!

      Show Replies
      • 15

        says

        I couldn’t have said it any better than Ashley and Lisa! I love this post and love you! When I met you at your book signing, I was blown away by how REAL and genuine you are…and this post is just as real and genuine. I can’t wait to see you again at the Femworking conference this month (and will make SURE to get a photo with you this time so I don’t have to photoshop myself in. ;) )

        Show Replies
    • 22

      Trish says

      Jill,
      You have been missed by me! I was wondering where you had gone and thought that with your busy life you didn’t have time! I’m so glad you have come back. We all need to know our disappointments in life are shared by others and we shouldn’t have to “suck it up” and pretend it doesn’t hurt

      Show Replies

Load More Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>