Hello and welcome to the launch of a new feature on IHL called Writerly Wednesdays. TB and Miranda will share about some part of their creative adventure, whether it be inspirational, nitty-gritty how-to, or anything in between. Today, TB’s kicking it off with Mickey Mouse.
Be Like Mickey Mouse
Growing up, I received a lot of praise for success. A lot. In addition, I was always encouraged to be the best. On one hand, it was a good thing. Parents should encourage their children. However, it’s important to point out it wasn’t put to me to be the best I could be, but to be the best, as in better than everyone else.
This was a ton of pressure for a kid. When I fell short, even by the tiniest of margins, I was made to feel like a total failure. Getting an A on a test wasn’t good enough. Why didn’t I get an A+? If I scored two goals in a soccer game, why didn’t I score three?
As a child, this messed me up beyond belief. Most people who have reached adulthood have learned failure is a part of life. In many cases, failure is how we learn.
My parents didn’t see it this way. Failure wasn’t an option. EVER.
While they demanded I be the best, I started focusing on failure. It kinda became an obsession for me. Not just failing but bouncing back afterward. I sought out stories of well-known people who epically failed and then clawed their way back.
To this day, I still struggle with setbacks. When it happens, no matter the reason, it’s like I’m transported back in time, reliving the moment when I was six years old, dribbling a soccer ball all the way down the field, with no one but the goalie in my way, taking my shot, and the ball hitting the goalpost, never going into the net.
Not all misses are from my own actions, but when I face a setback, it causes a terrible moment of dread. Sometimes, it takes me time to get past it.
Recently, with my latest Lizzie release, Amazon deranked the book. It had nothing to do with me or with the book. It was just a glitch in their system that stripped away the ranks from books that had been released within a certain time frame. Unfortunately, rank is a vital metric for a new release. It’s a book’s rank that allows it to chart on Amazon (meaning to have a spot on lesbian fiction or lesbian romance charts, etc.) and become more visible to readers.
Amazon wasn’t doing this on purpose. It wasn’t like they targeted Lizzie and said, “No rank for you!” It was happening to many books across many different genres. Even so, the loss of rank pretty much killed the launch of A Woman Unhinged. (Below, you’ll find a list of other sapphic books that were also hit by the deranking fiasco. Please note, this is not a complete list, just the ones IHL has learned of. If you know of others, please let us know.)
The same day this happened (it continued for well over a week), I sat down to watch a documentary on Walt Disney. As a creative, I enjoy learning from other creatives. Disney had many setbacks during his career (many from his own doing), but the one that struck me as I was wallowing about the deranking of Lizzie hit close to home.
I love Disney characters, especially Mickey Mouse. What can I say? I grew up a stone’s throw from Disneyland. During the summer, the nightly fireworks display at Disneyland was my curfew. I could watch, and then I had to go inside.
Watching the documentary, I learned something crucial about Mickey Mouse that helped me deal with my Lizzie setback. Before Mickey Mouse, there was Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Walt Disney and his team created many cartoons starring Oswald, but Disney didn’t own the rights to Oswald. Universal did.
I won’t go too much into the particulars as to why Universal took Oswald away from Walt Disney (he was a difficult boss to please), but I will share the nugget that helped me during this particular time of despondency.
After losing Oswald in 1928, Walt Disney didn’t toss in the towel, even when the distributor kept on making Oswald cartoons. Failure also played a big role in Walt Disney’s life. His father had a string of them and had become more and more depressed. Walt didn’t want to be like his dad.
Instead, Walt Disney decided to create a cartoon character that was even better than Oswald. Disney, along with a handful of employees who stayed after the Oswald incident, brainstormed and brainstormed until they came up with Mickey Mouse.
Out of one failure came a character who has not only impacted millions of lives but mine in particular. Especially on the afternoon when my launch of A Woman Unhinged was derailed.
For many days, while communicating with Amazon and hitting a brick wall, I kept thinking, “Be like Mickey Mouse.” Given the trajectory of this story, I should have been saying, “Be like Walt Disney,” but he had some negative qualities that I’d rather not emulate. I want to learn from his story, but I would rather be like the plucky mouse who makes millions of people smile.
And, it was a good reminder that even people who achieved success had failed at some point and didn’t give up. My motto, not just in writing but in life, is Just keep going. Sometimes, though, I need to be reminded of this.
These were the other sapphic books that were deranked that IHL knows about:
The Number 94 Project by Cheyenne Blue
Guarded Desires by Anna Stone
A Closer Look by Michele L. Rivera
The Awkward Truth by Lee Winter
Partners by Jae
At First Glance by Melissa Tereze
Fool for Love by Rachael Sommers
A Woman Unhinged by TB Markinson
Just One Mistake by Jade Winters
Champagne Kisses by MJ Duncan
Christmas Shorts by Jade Winters
Cuffing Season by Monica McCallan
If you know of other sapphic books that were deranked, please let us know so we can add them to the list to help with exposure.