I’ve learned skill I never imagined I’d be learning. Plus, I work at learning new things all the time. I think it’s important to always be improving yourself.

Okay, the “advice gurus” these days are always touting how “entrepreneurs or people wish to be leaders” should specialize and niche down — hand off the things that they are not good at.

While this is fine most of the time, what about when you are raising a family with no outside help? There is no one else I could hand things off too that would just do it for free. What are they going to work for? Exposure? (Okay, that’s a bad artists’ joke — doctors, plumbers, accountants, lawyers, etc. all expect to be paid for the work they do, but when it comes to artists (whether it be writers, photographers, artists, actors, etc) they are often asked to do a job as a “favor” for free because it’ll get them great exposure with all the people at the wedding, event, social gathering, etc. Annoying!)

Yeah, trust me, my plumber doesn’t want to come fix the pipes on my old house for the exposure of having his truck out front, even if I were to pay for supplies myself. (“But other people in my neighborhood might need your help and imagine how much business you could get by having your truck there.” Okay, I actually have a plumber living across the street from me, so in my mind, Loki is really laughing at me right now asking if I want a plumber fight on my hands.) So, I learned to fix things and put in my own elbow grease. 

I admit that I carry a lot of that fear over into my artist life too. That’s why I do my own covers.

I am still not a very good plumber and there will come a day when I can’t make the repairs myself. For now though, I impress my children with my ninja skills. Flow pipes, flow. No leaks!

My cover design skills are coming along much better, as are my voice over skills — something else I never imagined doing but am glad that I have had to learn.

On the other hand, car repairs. If it’s beyond changing a tire, I better let someone else handle that. I do know my limits. And where I have probably saved my money on a plumber, I have gladly paid for car repairs.

I find there is balance in this; meaning that there are some things I should have to learn for my own personal growth and development and some things that I should pass onto someone else who already has the knowledge that I don’t seek to gain.

Basic house repairs: yeah, that’s something I should know and have the tools necessary to use when I need them.

Car repairs: again, basic maintenance is a good thing to know (change the tire – to get it to someone who can actually fix the tire – and check the fluids), but I would not use the tools often enough to justify the costs in the equipment or my time in learning the skills.

I have bought software and equipment to help me with my indie publishing. Heck, when doing my earlier covers which I painted myself, I pushed my painting skills to do them. I learned a lot. Now I’m getting better with Adobe Photoshop Elements. I’ve learned how to use Adobe Audition for my narration. I’ve learned more about audio equipment and editing than I ever thought I’d ever know. I wish I’d listened to the boys’ father a bit more — he was a musician and I might have had a leap forward on the audiobooks if I’d paid attention (but at the time, that was more akin to car repair — I never expected to have to learn it).

It’s not like the tools do everything for you either. You have to gain the skills to use the tools, whether it be for covers, audiobooks, or the pipes under your sink. Nothing is every perfect the first time out of the gate. There’s a shaky, doubtful feeling that comes when you learn your beginning efforts are not as great as you initially thought they were. There’s trial and error. There’s re-do’s.

It happens to everyone. Don’t let it stop you from acquiring a new tool to put in your belt.