Going for the Solo

Mr. Troccolo lead the chorus at my middle school, Dag Hammarskjold. Every year he picked a couple of 8th graders to sing a solo in the big spring concert. The soloists were always thin and pretty and looked perfect in their stirrup pants and backwards pastel Forenza sweaters.

I was shorter and squatter than those girls, with a forehead full of acne and make up to cover it up that looked more like stickers all over my face. I spent most of my time thinking about how losing weight would fix everything and I could be like the pretty, skinny, 8th graders who always got the solos.

When I was singing though, I would get lost in the emotion of the song and forget about my weight and my zits. Singing was freedom.

I was 11 years old and 141 lbs when John Waite released his song “Missing You.” I was in 6th grade and I made a decision:

I WOULD BE THE 8TH GRADE SOLOIST and SING THIS SONG FOR THE SPRING CONCERT in 2 years.

Every time I think of you
I always catch my breath
And I’m still standing here
And you’re miles away
And I’m wondering why you left”

To get the gig I knew I needed to lose 30 lbs and master the music.

I begged my mom for singing lessons but she said no.

So, I taught myself to play the song on my piano and I practiced every day anyway.

I went to Mr. Troccolo for extra help with the song at lunch time.

I bought a band tracking tape to sing along with.

I also stopped eating whenever possible and starting purging when I did eat because one of the skinny girls in chorus told me that was how she stayed slim. It seemed like a good plan.

“And there’s a storm that’s raging
Through my frozen heart tonight
I hear your name in certain circles
And it always makes me smile”

The big audition day came and no one in the room was more prepared than I was. Most of them were still picking their songs in the morning! But I hadn’t lost those 30 lbs. In fact I’d gained 20.

I pushed my weight out of my mind and stepped up to the microphone.

“I ain’t missing you at all…
Since you’ve been gone away
I ain’t missing you
No matter
What my friends say

When I finished, a rush of tears poured down my face. I had done it! Mr. Troccolo said he wanted singers with heart. He wanted passion and connection and commitment. No one in the room demonstrated that more than me. I mean one girl sang Happy Birthday for her audition! Come on!

Days later when the Soloist list was revealed on the bulletin board outside the band room, my name was not on it. The name of the (skinny) girl who sang Happy Birthday was.

The message was clear: People will tell you they want passion, connection, and commitment; but what they really want is for you to be skinny.

 There’s a message in the wild
And I’m sending you this signal tonight
You don’t know how desperate I’ve become
And it looks like I’m losing this fight

 And so… I gave up. I knew I’d never beat the skinny girls no matter how hard I tried. I decided to take my rightful place in the background, behind the scenes, as a stage manager, and producer. I would be the wind beneath other people’s wings. And I would hide. Kinda like I’m hiding behind the pretty skinny girls in these pictures from 8th grade.

 

For a long time, it was easier to hide. It wasn’t a terrible coping strategy as far as coping strategies go. But over time, it became self-destructive. The truth was – I wanted to be the soloist. I didn’t want to be behind the scenes. I just thought I wasn’t worthy because of how I looked.

“And there’s a storm that’s raging
Through my frozen heart tonight
And I ain’t missing you at all
Since you’ve been gone away
I ain’t missing you
No matter what my friends say”

What I expected to happen was that someday I would lose weight, and then I would finally get the chance to be the soloist. And to many people reading this – that’s probably what it looks like happened – but it’s not! I tried that for decades and failed.

The crazy, counter-intuitive trick was that I had to FIRST become the soloist and then I was able to lose weight. Which made no sense because I believed I was ugly and I knew ugly girls don’t get the solos.

When I changed those thoughts and cast myself as the soloist, then the path to permanent weight loss revealed itself. I created space for that path to exist.

Maybe you have a habit of hiding too. Maybe you are thinking, “when I lose weight” or “when I sort out this stuff with my mom” or “when the kids are older” – then it will be my time to shine. What I discovered is that there is ALWAYS a good reason to hide… until there isn’t. Until hiding just eats you up from the inside because you know there is so much more to do.

Maybe you have been hoping to be discovered by a big publisher and that’s how you will know your ideas are good enough. I say: STOP WAITING! Anoint yourself the leader of your own movement now.

I see a lot of people on Facebook saying it never makes sense to pay a publisher – that publishers pay authors and never the other way around. If you are paying a publisher, that’s how you know you AREN’T good enough.

I say Bullshit. Every single author pays their publisher. Those with traditional deals tend to pay their publishers 80%, 90% or even 95% of all of their book sales revenue. And it doesn’t have to be that way.

The reason folks like Brendon Burchard, Guy Kawasaki and Seth Godin have turned to self-publishing is because the days of traditional publishers offering pay-day loans to authors is quickly coming to an end.

Last year I recorded a training called You Don’t Pay To Publish. It’s a training that cuts right to the truth in an area where I see a LOT of aspiring authors get stuck.

Just like I wanted Mr. Troccolo to pick me for that solo in 8th grade, almost everyone thinks that getting a big-name publishing deal is the best possible outcome of writing a book.

So I made a 20-minute training video that explores the advantages and disadvantages of traditional publishing and self-publishing and breaks out the numbers behind each strategy.

I’d like to ask you a favor. I am testing this training to see how it resonates with aspiring authors and helps them figure out which way is best.

Could you check out the training, and leave a quick review to tell me what you thought?

If you do, I’ll drop in a little incentive – a free copy of my cheat sheet, “Top 10 Tips From My Most Successful Authors”, containing some of the most important things they learned on their journey from book idea to published bestseller and six-figure business!

To see the training, go here: https://theauthorcastle.com/smart-authors

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