It has been an insane seven months. I’ve had more stress happening in my life than is reasonable, most it fueled by big drama that I don’t care to get into and that I’d say is only half resolved, but that—I will finally admit—did, in no uncertain terms, zap the shit out of my writing mojo.
Now, for those of you following along, you may have picked up I’m a bit hard on myself. I am part masochist, part perfectionist, part over analyst, part wannabe superhero, and part head-in-the-sand ostrich, so when you mash all this together, sometimes it takes a bad turn. I’m freakishly good at putting on a big smile to cover whatever the hell is going on, ignoring when things are bad, and pushing through insane amounts of pain. On top of that, I am so optimistic (I’m of the “fuck half-full, I have a glass!” ilk), I can convince myself things aren’t as bad as they seem, all while crying about it at the same time.
So here’s the deal…I was working on this book for the last, oh, ten or so months. I was excited about it and the vision I had for it—except I kept ignoring how stressed out I was. Well, okay, that’s not entirely true. I was admitting how stressed out I was, but ignoring how much it was affecting me. Insomnia? Whatever. Excessive oversleeping when given the chance? No biggie. Hours spent watching TV to try and soothe my head, chiding myself the entire time because I should be writing? Whatever. Dragging myself into my desk chair and trying to figure out why the hell I couldn’t focus on the words in front of me, not because I needed a muse, but because day after day I had a bizarrely “fuzzy head” that was, honestly, starting to make me feel physically ill? P-shaw. I mean, the list of symptoms went on and on—but despite all these warning signs, good friends telling me to give myself a break, and me telling me to give myself a break (ha ha), I just kept going. And perhaps as no surprise, the book suffered massively because of this.
There’s good news, though, I promise! First, I had a huge meltdown (no, I swear, this is good). Malin James and I often talk about how some people run like sports cars—we run really hot, crazy fast, and super flashy…and then one part flies off on the track and shit hits the fan and our machine needs major repair. This is complicated and expensive, but damn, does that baby run better once it’s fixed. That said, I am certain I was a BMW in a past life, because, holy shit, did this little car have a break down. In the middle of it, my amazing beta babes kindly (and firmly) took the book out of my hands and suggested a break.
I circled the track a few more times. Was I really going to break? Would I come back on the track speedier and flashier than ever if I did?
I won’t lie—this part was scary and fucking hard. I have an ingrained fear of doing what I did long ago, something I talked about in my interview with Molly Moore about my adventures between writing as a teen and not coming back to it seriously until about five years ago (and only because I was grounded after a major injury): wandering away from my passion for way too long of a time. I consider myself a Jill of all trades—not amazing at anything but pretty good at a lot of things—and sometimes these side things consume me. (Did I mention earlier I’m also part obsessive? Yeah, that too.) Working Renaissance Faire, becoming a seamstress, becoming an aerial acrobat—these things were passions of mine that I dove into with everything I had, forgetting all the while how deep my true passion, writing, ran in me. When I found that drive again a few years ago, it was so hot, so amazing, so why-the-fuck-have-I-been-away-from-you-for-so-long?, I guess whenever I do cut myself some slack, there’s this tick of worry that I’ll be seduced away in some schmaltzy love affair that might distract me, again, from the real deal.
But that’s not what happened. I’m older, and I understand now how much I love writing…so I went ahead and did it.
I gave myself permission to break.
For a few weeks after the breakdown, I tinkered—and then I just threw up my hands and walked away. Other than a few poems and some blog posts, I barely wrote. Then I took it a step further and took an entire week off to do absolutely no writing or editing or thinking about writing at all. I picked up my niece for a couple days and took her Great America (so fun!), I read some books, I cooked, I slept, I watched a lot of movies, and then I woke up one day and…
There it was, cuddling up beside me—this great big urge to sit in front of the computer and write again.
I took it real easy at first, deciding there was no need to work on a large project, but rather, to write a bunch of small things. I needed to practice starting and stopping again, rather than [over]futzing with something too big to chew on just yet. I needed to simply have a good time writing whatever I felt like, no matter if it was good or bad or for any purpose other than to make me smile again. This was the deal I made with myself for the first two weeks I’ve come back—and, holy fuck, I’m a bit shocked at how much has poured out of me! In the first week I wrote six flash pieces, five shorts, a couple blog posts, and opened up documents or scribbled down notes for upwards of a dozen starter ideas or first lines for new things. I even revisited a character I wrote about prior to switching to erotica, and decided she may one day make it into an erotic series, who knows…but I wrote a flash piece about her to enter a contest.
Then came the best part: my amazing beta babes, Malin and Tamsin, sent me feedback for that book I mangled. The evidence that it was in need of work was clear, but guess what? It turned out there was hope in the thing. And instead of worrying about it, I read their feedback and smiled. Yes, there’s work to be done—but it no longer feels so foreboding and terrifying. It actually feels like it’s going to be pretty fun!
So, here I am in my second week of “play time,” and I’m starting to toy with ideas on what I’d like to do next. Fix the book? Likely. Work on other big things? For sure. But either way, I think it’s finally safe to say it.
I may have lost my mojo for a bit there, but, hot damn—that baby is found!