Quit the Chicken Job, You Must

KFC BucketWhen I was 16 I got my first job with my first real paycheck, working at Kentucky Fried Chicken. I only lasted for five months. It wasn’t the low pay or the terrible hours that drove me to quit, or even the fact that I came home every night smelling like poultry.

It was the sensory overload that did me in.

More than once, when a line of hungry, impatient people snaked all the way out the door, I ended up in the back room, crying and flustered. It was just too much. Looking back, I realize I took the job way too seriously. I wanted everyone to be happy, wanted to do a good job. But it was just chicken. I wish I could go back and give 16-year-old me a hug and tell her that: “Girl, it’s just chicken.” I’d still encourage her to quit, though. To have enough confidence in herself and her skills to go find something better. Calmer. More in line with her interests and talents.

Fast forward twenty-something years, and I’m actually doing what I love! The book debut looms just three short months away. And I’m back in panic mode. Am I establishing an online presence? Am I doing enough to prepare, to network, to suddenly become outgoing and eloquent? Will any of it make any difference in the long run? It’s that queue of impatient customers all over again, all clamoring for their bucket of chicken.

I’m the first to admit that social media often sends me into a spiral of anxiety. I’m not witty or interesting or invested enough to keep up. Some days I try. Many days I don’t. Sometimes just having unanswered email feels like an unbearable source of noise and clutter. It can even dictate whether or not I have a productive writing day. I’ve read lots of articles about how much authors should be doing to promote themselves online.  They range from do everything to do only the things you feel comfortable with. Our very own Megan Morrison wrote a wonderful, sensible post along those lines here.

YodaBut what about the days when I DON’T FEEL COMFORTABLE WITH ANY OF IT?!

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say: that’s okay too.

You might be familiar with Yoda’s famous line from The Empire Strikes Back: “Do, or do not. There is no try.” An inspiring quote for most any situation, right? But at the risk of alienating my fellow Star Wars fans, I’d like to propose an alternate philosophy when it comes to book promotion and social media: “Do, or do not. Or try, if you want. But if it stresses you out, or interferes with your writing, then don’t worry about it.

I will say that I’m starting to get the hang of Twitter. I think I’ve been signed up for almost two years now. Needless to say, it’s very, very, verrrrrry slooooow going for me. But that’s the pace I’m comfortable with, and I have noticed my brain gradually absorbing bits and pieces—enough to keep me from giving up. So I will continue to try.

I totally think Yoda would get on board with that.


ChristineHayesauthorpicChristine Hayes writes spooky stories for middle grade readers. Her debut novel, MOTHMAN’S CURSE, is due out June 16, 2015 with Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan. She is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency. Follow her on Twitter: @christinenhayes.


Filed under Advice - Helpful or Otherwise, Anxiety, Book Promotion, Panic, Promotion, Social Media, Time Management, Writing, Writing and Life

20 responses to “Quit the Chicken Job, You Must

  1. Christine,
    I can relate 100%. Are you sure you’re not my daughter? 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  2. tamaraellissmith

    Girl, it’s STILL just chicken. 🙂 I love this post, Chris. Thank you for the reminder…

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Lindsey Lane

    Oh Christine, Be Gentle with yourself. I know exactly how you feel.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. When I first joined Twitter, it felt like a thousand people shouting DIRECTLY IN MY FACE all at once. I fled. But as I gained the courage to hang around a little, I learned to filter out the noise (especially the people who tweet nothing but “Hey, buy my book! It’s awesome!), and made wonderful connections with smart, funny, supportive people I never would have met otherwise. It takes time, and there are places I don’t go (tumblr, instagram, pintrest) but you’ll find your own level of comfort. There are days I don’t go there at all, and there are days I spend an hour or two. And that’s just fine with me. 🙂

    Ultimately, you are who you are, and you can’t become someone else just because you wrote a book.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Yep, I hear you. What is fun and invigorating to one writer is a soul-sucking demon to another. And it’s just chicken. Here’s to balance and being confident in knowing who you are and respecting yourself.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. mariagianferrari

    I hear you too, Christine! It’s hard not to feel overwhelmed by it all sometimes… but it’s a good thing. Facebook is also new to me, and about the only thing I can handle. Deep breaths for us all 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Janet Fox

    Exactly!! Do or do not. More important life is. Love this!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I easily get overloaded, too, and YES, many days I don’t write just because of the piles of emails, fan mail, FB and Twitter or guest blog posts. It’s all VERY time-consuming, but I try to enjoy the journey best I can and relish those quiet days of writing. This year I vowed to read more (last year I had two books, a MG and YA launch and it was insanity, and I really missed reading) and I already feel better/happier because I’ve read a dozen books since January 1st! 🙂

    It sounds like you’ve got the right attitude and perspective, Christine, and you have your priorities in order. Now go forth and ENJOY your debut year!! Congratulations!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Christine Hayes

      Wow, Kimberley. You are a rock star! I would love to read more. You’re right–it is a great source of joy. Thank you so much for your kind words.


  9. Chris, your posts always communicate something I’ve been feeling but haven’t been able to put in words. You don’t have to worry about being eloquent, that’s for sure. I identify with everything you wrote here–the sensory overload, the panic mode, the trying but not worrying about it at the same time. Some days I feel like I’m figuring out a balance, some days I don’t think I’ll ever get there. No matter what, I’m always reminding myself to enjoy the ride. All these moments–good and bad–will soon be memories. Thank you for this great perspective today!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Girl, it’s just chicken. Word. I cringe at all that advice I so glibly dispensed, since now that the debut is really coming at me, I am doing absolutely nothing. I really, really, really needed this post. It made me feel a lot better. Thanks, Christine.

    Liked by 1 person

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